SAN FRANCISCO—Worldwide sales of cellular phone handsets amounted to about 428 million units in the third quarter, down 3.1 percent compared with the third quarter of 2011, according to market research firm Gartner Inc.
Smartphone sales accounted for 39.6 percent of total mobile phone sales, as smartphone sales increased 46.9 percent from the third quarter of 2011, Gartner said.
While the third quarter marked the second consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline for the handset market, Gartner (Stamford, Conn.) said their were positive signs.
"After two consecutive quarter of decline in mobile phone sales, demand has improved in both mature and emerging markets as sales increased sequentially," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner, in a statement.
Gupta said sales of mobile phones in China grew year-over-year during the third quarter, driven by sales of smartphones. Demand for feature phones in China remained weak during the third quarter, Gupta said.
"In mature markets, we finally saw replacement sales pick up with the launch of new devices in the quarter," Gupta said.
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Smartphone sales continued to set the pace for the overall handset market, with shipments increasing to 169.2 million units, according to Gartner. The smartphone market continues to be dominated by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. and Apple Inc., the firm noted. "Both vendors together controlled 46.5 percent of smartphone market leaving a handful of vendors fighting over a distant third spot," Gupta said.
Gartner's findings are similar to those of rival market research firm ABI Research Inc., which last month reported that Samsung shipped more than twice as many smartphones as Apple did in the third quarter
. But ABI's analysis indicated that that the two vendors combined shipped more than half of all handsets in the third quarter.