Huawei is now the world's third biggest smartphone maker after a strong fourth quarter, according to Gartner.
The firm, which last year was labelled a "national security threat" by a US House Intelligence Committee, sold 27.2 million smartphones last year, up an impressive 73.8 per cent on 2011.
Despite this, the firm still trailed Apple and Samsung by some distance in Q4, with the South Korean and US giants taking their combined share of the market for the period to 52 per cent, an increase of 5.6 per cent on the previous quarter.
"There is no manufacturer that can firmly lay claim to the number three spot in global smartphone sales," said Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta. "The success of Apple and Samsung is based on the strength of their brands as much as their actual products. Their direct competitors, including those with comparable products, struggle to achieve the same brand appreciation among consumers, who, in a tough economic environment, go for cheaper products over brand."
Samsung ended the year as number one in global smartphone sales and overall mobile phone sales. In the fourth quarter of 2012, overall smartphone sales totalled 64.5 million units - up by 85.3 per cent from the corresponding quarter in 2011. In 2012, Samsung shifted a total of 384.6 million handsets of which 53.5 per cent were smartphones.
Gupta believes that Google's Android platform has now become synonymous with Samsung's brand.
"With Samsung commanding over 42.5 per cent of the Android market globally, and the next vendor at just six per cent share, the Android brand is being overshadowed by Samsung's brand with the Galaxy name nearly a synonym for Android phones in consumers' mind share," he said.
Meanwhile, Apple's sales in the fourth quarter of 2012 were up 22.6 per cent year on year, with 43.5 million units sold. This helped Apple to sell a total of 130 million smartphones worldwide in 2012. Gartner said that while iPhone sales remained strong within the quarter, this was largely down to demand for the less expensive iPhone 4 or 4s models - something that Apple's chief executive Tim Cook had noticed as a trend on Apple's last conference call.
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