Gartner 2012 handset sales down 17 percent, half of smartphones sold are Apple or Samsung

We saw last quarter that while mobile phone buyers were on the decline in general, smartphone sales were way, way up. That's how 2012 finished off as well according to Gartner, with cellphone purchases down 1.7 percent overall from 2011, but sales of higher-IQ models up 38.3 percent year-on-year. Samsung and Apple fared particularly well in the latter category for Q4 2012, making up over 52 percent of smartphones sold compared to 46 percent in Q3. Meanwhile, being embroiled in the odd security row didn't stop upstart Huawei from hitting the smartphone podium for the first time with 27.2 million handsets sold in Q4 2012, a 73.8 percent jump over last year -- but a distant third behind Samsung's 64.5 million units and 43.5 million for Apple. Meanwhile, Nokia dropped 53.6 percent from last year with 39.3 million units sold, though it's likely too soon to tell whether WP8 will boost it anew.

Speaking of Redmond's Windows Phone ecosystem, it grew a modest 1.2 percent in Q4 to grab 3 percent of the market just behind BlackBerry, which tumbled 44.4 percent but stayed in third spot on 3.5 percent of devices. With new products now in the market, the two OSes will likely see a protracted battle for third spot over the next year, according to the survey outfit. Android widened its margin to control a whopping 69.7 percent share of the smartphone OS market compared to 20.9 percent for iOS, a bump of 87.8 percent over the quarter. Otherwise, your Badas, Symbians and others are battling for scraps, and will soon have certain new Linux-based predators to watch out for, to boot.

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Gartner: half of smartphones sold are Apple or Samsung, Huawei third for the first time