Samsung has been the world's second-largest R&D spender after Volkswagen for a few years now, and 2015 was no exception, as you can see from the comparison table above. The electronics juggernaut poured the staggering $14.1 billion in research and development of new technologies last year, just shy of Volkswagen's $15.3 billion. The company is trying to diversify away from what was its bread-and-butter profit generator until recently, smartphones, and now they contribute for barely a third of its earnings, with the rest coming from chips, TVs, and the like. In 2014, Samsung spent $13.4 billion on R&D, so last year has seen a nice boost in lab activities around the company.
In comparison, Apple spent an estimated $6 billion in R&D, which might seem little compared to Samsung, and yet it's a record amount for it, and the company has now climbed in the top 20 of world's research spenders. Some analysts attribute this hike in Cupertino's R&D spending on futuristic projects like the rumored Apple Car, which is one of the avenues that Apple might be exploring in order to eventually diversify from the heavy dependence on the iPhone franchise as its main profit generator.