FRAMINGHAM, Massachusetts: Global smartphone shipments have registered strong growth, with Korean electronics firm Samsung consolidating its market leadership in the third quarter of 2012.

According to new figures from IDC, shipments reached 444.5m worldwide during the three-month period, up 45% on the year before. Meanwhile, the broader global mobile handset market, including lower-spec feature phones, registered annual growth of 2.4%.

Samsung was found by IDC to have shipped 56.3m smartphones in the third quarter, up 100.4% from the same period in 2011. This means that the firm had an overall market share of 31.3%, the largest achieved by a single smartphone company since 2009.

"Samsung's growth was fueled in large part by its broad, deep, and refreshed Android portfolio, highlighted by the full quarter availability of its flagship model Galaxy S III," IDC said.

In second place on the smartphone rankings was Apple, which boosted its share from 13.8% in the third quarter of 2011 to 15% in 2012, with 26.9m units shipped. The launch of the new iPhone 5 in late September was cited as a minor contributor to this sales boost.

"Although the iPhone 5 was only on the market for one week in 3Q12, the aggressive rollout of the device resulted in more than 5 million iPhones sold in the first weekend of availability, which helped buoy Apple's shipment totals," the IDC report added.

By contrast, Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia fell out of the top five smartphone maker rankings in the latest quarter – the first time this has happened since the IDC began tracking the market in 2004.

In comments accompanying the new data, Ramon Llamas, a research manager for IDC, indicated that he expected current rates of smartphone growth to be maintained in the near future.

"Mobile phones and smartphones play a critical role in keeping people connected, regardless of location," Llamas said. "In addition, their utility beyond communication – productivity, entertainment, and multimedia – continues to add to their value."

Data sourced from IDC; additional content by Warc staff