Global smartphone shipments grew to 173.7 million units in Q3 2012, representing 44% growth from 120.4 million in Q3 2011.
The statistics from Canalys revealed Samsung and Apple accounted for nearly 50% of the global market share. Samsung topped the vendor table with 32% (55.5 million units) for the third consecutive quarter, followed by Apple with 15.5% (26.9 million units).
In Q3 2011, Samsung took 22.7% of the market (27.3 million units) with an extensive year-on-year growth of 103.6%. Apple grew 57.6%, with a 14.2% share of the market (17.1 million units) in 2011.
A UK judge ordered Apple to run ads to the effect that Samsung did not copy the iPad. However, judges scolded Apple for its subsequent statement about Samsung and instructed Apple to amend its statement.
Sony followed in third place with a 5.1% share of the market (8.8 million units) at the end of Q3 2012, followed by HTC with 4.8% (8.4 million units).
Nokia is still struggling and missed out on the top five positions. Nokia saw a continued decline in revenue in Q3 2012, however, analysts claimed this drop was expected, as customers wait for the launch of Nokia's new Lumia smartphone range featuring Windows Phone 8, which launched at the end of October.
According to analyst Gartner, 821 million smart devices (including tablet devices) will be purchased in 2012, with smart devices accounting for 70% of total devices sold in 2012. The company forecasts sales to rise to 1.2 billion in 2013.
Gartner estimates 56% of smartphones purchased by businesses in North America and Europe will be Android devices in 2016, up from 34% in 2012.