At a time when arch rivals Samsung and Apple are busy settling their differences in courtrooms and fighting hard against each other to remain at the top of the smartphone industry, a new quarterly research report has shown that the clash between the two titans is not hurting their sales.

Both Samsung and Apple continue to rule the smartphone market as the world’s best-selling cell phone brands, collectively accounting for a staggering 46.5 percent of global smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2012, according to research firm Gartner.

“Both vendors together controlled 46.5 percent of smartphone market leaving a handful of vendors fighting over a distant third spot,” said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

The report says that Samsung’s mobile phones sales continued to accelerate, totaling almost 98 million units in the third quarter of 2012, up 18.6 percent year-on-year. The company saw a strong demand for Galaxy smartphones across different price points that further widened the gap with Apple in the smartphone market.

The South Korean tech giant sold 55 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2012 and commanded 32.5 percent of the global smartphone market during the quarter. Apple, on the other hand, sold a total of 23.6 million units in the third quarter of 2012, up 36.2 percent year-on-year.

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Although Apple lagged way behind Samsung and Nokia in terms of overall mobile phone sales, when it comes to the smartphone sales figures, the Cupertino giant scored big along with Samsung to account for nearly half of the global smartphone sales during the third quarter.

“We saw inventory built up into the channel as Apple prepared for the coming holiday season, global expansions and the launch into China in the fourth quarter of 2012,” said Gupta.

With the iPhone 5 launching in more territories in the fourth quarter of 2012, including China, and the upcoming holiday season, Gartner analysts expect that Apple will have its traditionally strongest quarter.

As for the other players in the market, Nokia slipped from No. 3 in the second quarter of 2012 to No. 7 in smartphone sales in the third quarter of 2012. RIM moved to the No. 3 spot with HTC at No. 4.

Nokia had a particularly bad quarter with smartphone sales with 7.2 million smartphones sold in the third quarter. The arrival of the new Lumia devices on Windows 8 should help to halt the decline in share in the fourth quarter of 2012, although it won’t be until 2013 to see a significant improvement in Nokia’s position, said Gartner.

On the other hand, thanks to increased sales of the Asha full touch range, Nokia saw overall mobile phone sales of 82.3 million, which was better than Gartner’s early estimate. However, the company’s mobile phone sales declined 21.9 percent in the third quarter of 2012.

[Global mobile device sales in Q3 2012. Source: Gartner, November 2012]

In the smartphone market, Android continued to increase its lead with 72.4 percent market share, up 19.9 percentage points in the third quarter of 2012. Apple held on to second with 13.9 percent of the market.

However, with the launch of the iPhone 5, Gartner analysts expect iOS share will grow strongly in the fourth quarter of 2012 because users held on to their replacements in many markets ahead of the iPhone 5 wider roll out.

Although RIM lost market share, it climbed to the No. 3 position as Symbian nears the end of its lifecycle. There was also channel destocking in preparation of new device launches for RIM, which resulted in sales worth 8.9 million to end users in the third quarter of 2012.

Windows Phone’s share weakened quarter-on-quarter as the Windows Phone 8 launch dampened the demand of Windows Phone 7 devices.

[Global mobile OS market share in Q3 2012. Source: Gartner, November 2012]

The report also stated that worldwide sales of mobile phones to end users reached almost 428 million units in the third quarter of 2012, a 3.1 percent decline from the third quarter of 2011. On the other hand, smartphone sales accounted for 39.6 percent of total mobile phone sales, as the sales increased 46.9 percent from the third quarter of 2011 to touch 169.2 million units in the third quarter of 2012.