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(Pocket-lint) - Samsung has pulled further away from Apple and Nokia in worldwide smartphone sales. Handsets such as the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II have helped it sell 63 million smartphones in the fourth quarter of 2012, resulting in a 29 per cent of the entire market.

Strategy Analytics revealed that global smartphones sales, all companies combined, topped 700 million in 2012, a stunning 42.7 per cent rise year-on-year. The total number of smartphones sold in 2011 came in at 490.5 million.

Again, the company to most profit in the rising sales for the year is Samsung. Where it sold a combined 97.4 million smartphones in 2011, just 4.4 million more than Apple, it shifted a whopping 213 million handsets in 2012. With Apple selling 135.8 million iPhones - a rise in year-on-year numbers in itself - that means that Samsung's yearly market share leapt up 30.4 per cent, 11 per cent more than Apple's. The gap was only 0.4 per cent in 2011.

Nokia, on the other hand, didn't do quite as well. Although the group made profit in Q4 for the first time since it started to make Windows Phone devices, its year-on-year smartphone sales for the last quarter of the year dropped from 19.6 million to 6.6 million. According to Strategy Analytics though, it still holds on to third spot.

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"Samsung and Apple together accounted for half of all smartphones shipped worldwide in 2012," said Linda Sui, analyst for Strategy Analytics. "Large marketing budgets, extensive distribution channels and attractive product portfolios have enabled Samsung and Apple to tighten their grip on the smartphone industry. The growth of Samsung and Apple has continued to impact Nokia.

"Nokia retained its position as the world’s third-largest smartphone vendor for full-year 2012, but its global market share has dropped sharply from 16 per cent to five per cent during the past year. Nokia’s Windows Phone portfolio has improved significantly in recent months, with new models like the Lumia 920, but we believe the vendor still lacks a true hero model in its range that can be considered an Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy S III killer."

The same three manufacturers top the global mobile phone sales list - which also includes non-smartphone handsets. However, in this instance, Nokia is second to Samsung, with Apple trailing behind (being as it makes only smartphones).

Writing by Rik Henderson.