Latest IDC figures show that the global mobile market grew by nearly 2 percent in the past year, raising the number of available smartphones to nearly the same level as feature phones.
IDC said in its latest quarterly mobile phone tracker, vendors shipped 482.5 million mobile phones during the fourth-quarter of 2012, whereas for the full year sales were essentially flat, declining 0.2 percent on shipments of more than 1.7 billion units.
Korean giant Samsung remained in the lead with a new record of smartphones shipped in a single quarter and year, taking 29 percent of the overall mobile market. The company had 76 percent year-over-year growth, compared to Apple, which had only 29 percent growth. Apple took just shy of 22 percent of the market with 47.8 million shipments.
Samsung retained its lead at the top with its strong Galaxy brand of Android-based smartphones, combined with its mid-range devices that appeal to the lower-end of the market, the report highlighted. At the same time, Apple was moved along during the quarter thanks to the company's continued push into China, where shipments more than doubled. However, the technology giant was held back by claims that the company couldn't make enough iPhone 4 devices to meet demand, despite chief executive Tim Cook's rebuttals on the firm's recent Q1 earnings.
Meanwhile, Huawei took the growth top spot as it bumped up to third place with 4.9 percent of the smartphone market share more than 89 percent year-over-year growth.
And Nokia—which sold 4.4 million Lumia smartphones during the fourth-quarter—didn't appear in the list, was relegated to the "others" list. That said, the Finnish phone maker dominated in the non-smartphone mobile phone sector, which still considers smartphones as mobile phones.
Though Samsung remained in the lead in even the feature phone and smartphone space, Nokia held on to its strong albeit falling share of the best part of 18 percent of the fourth-quarter smartphone market. However, year-over-year change is falling by close to one-quarter, signalling the company's loosening grip on the market cliff face.
IDC senior research analyst Kevin Restivo said in prepared remarks:
The high-growth smartphone market, though dominated by Samsung and Apple, still presents ample opportunities for challengers. Vendors with unique market advantages, such as lower-cost devices, can rapidly gain market share, especially in emerging markets. A good example is Huawei, which overtook LG as a Top 5 vendor in the overall mobile phone market and passed HTC to become a Top 5 smartphone vendor.
Correction at 3:05 p.m. ET: The two tables were updated after IDC corrected the figures earlier this afternoon. The text of the article remains unchanged because there was nothing else to correct.