Samsung creams Apple in third quarter smartphone sales

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Samsung sold almost three times as many smartphones as rival Apple in the third quarter, according to Gartner, reflecting the South Korean tech giant's growing dominance in the increasingly competitive industry.

Vendors worldwide sold 80,357 Samsung smartphones to end users, during the July-September period, compared with just 30,330 Apple handsets, new data from the technology research firm released late Thursday showed.

Samsung's share of the global smartphone market stood at 32.1 percent in the third quarter, unchanged from the same period in 2012, while Apple's share fell to 12.1 percent, from 14.3 percent. In the second quarter of 2013, Samsung's share was 31.7 percent, while Apple's was 14.2 percent.

(Read more: Samsung keeps it simple to overtake Apple)

"While Samsung's share was flat in the third quarter, Samsung increased its lead over Apple in the global smartphone market. The launch of the Samsung Note 3 helped reaffirm Samsung as the clear leader in the large display smartphone market, which it pioneered," Gartner said, referring to Samsung's latest "phablet" - oversized smartphone handsets that are a cross between a phone and tablet.

Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner said that while the arrival of the new iPhones 5s and 5c had a positive impact on Apple's overall sales, the boost to sales could have been greater had Apple not started shipping late in the quarter.

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Apple's iPad stealth release

"While we saw some inventory built up for the iPhone 5c, there was good demand for iPhone 5s with stock out in many markets," said Gupta.

Overall, global smartphone sales reached 250.2 million units, up 45.8 percent from the third quarter of 2012, led by growth in Asia-Pacific.

Lenovo shines

While Lenovo lagged the duopoly of Samsung and Apple, the Chinese PC maker's sales soared 85 percent on-year to 12.9 million units, thanks to robust growth in the mainland market.

Lenovo, which recently accelerated its foray into mobile devices, became the world's third-largest smartphone maker by shipments in the third quarter, replacing South Korea's LG Electronics.

(Read more: China's Xiaomi 'new disruptive force' in smartphone sector)

Its market share stood at 5.1 percent in the third quarter - up from 4.1 percent in the same period a year earlier - compared with LG's 4.8 percent, according to Gartner.

—By CNBC's Ansuya Harjani; Follow her on Twitter:@Ansuya_H