The King Has Fallen: Samsung Dethrones Apple As Smartphone Leader

Before the Samsung Galaxy Nexus even goes on sale, Samsung has managed to take the lead against Apple to become the largest mobile phone maker by revenue in the third quarter of 2011. Nokia still holds the crown for mobile phone sales by volume, while Apple has dropped behind both to take the number three spot in terms of revenue.

While Samsung didn’t release its exact numbers, the Guardian spoke to Daiwa Securities technology analyst Jae Lee, who estimates that Samsung sold around 28 million phones in the third quarter. In the same period, Apple only sold 17 million phones, though it’s a tough comparison to make since Apple releases one phone a year while Samsung releases quite a few more than that.

With the help of the Samsung Galaxy S II no doubt, Samsung’s telecommunications business broke records this quarter with sales of 14.9 trillion won (US $13.5 billion), up 37 percent from last year. While declining to offer sales figures for handsets, a Samsung spokesperson said that smartphones sales had quadrupled from the previous quarter, with overall handset shipments increasing by more than 20 percent.

Pulling from Gartner research, the Guardian calculates that 20 percent increase to be shipments of about 86 million handsets between July and September. All the while, Samsung is still wrapped up in a massive legal spat with Apple and has still managed to grab the crown. Hat tip to you, Samsung.

Then again, Apple CEO Tim Cook has big plans for Apple’s upcoming quarter, predicting record iPhone and iPad sales. Only time will tell.