Just last week, the Wall Street Journal was reporting that according to a “person familiar with the situation,” Samsung shipped somewhere near 20 million smartphones in Q3, taking them past Apple by a healthy margin. Well Samsung’s latest numbers for 2011 are finally in, and it’s even better than originally projected.

In the third quarter alone, Samsung shipped 27.8 million smartphones globally. Apple shipped slightly more than half that number, 17.1 million. That gives Samsung a total of 23.8% of the market, and Apple 14.6%. Nokia shipped 16.8 million devices, giving them 14.4% of the market. Clearly, Samsung is doing something right.

Even though Samsung’s numbers are comprised of dozens of devices, compared to Apple’s select few, total market share and growth for the South Korea based company is impressive. Especially considering that the overall market has seen a decline in growth from Q3 of 2010. Last year, Samsung only sold 7.5 devices in Q3, giving them a meager 9.3% of the market in 2010. Thanks to highly successful Galaxy S II, Samsung has shattered those numbers. The question on everyone’s mind now, is how long will Samsung be able to hold on?

The Galaxy S II has just landed in the US, and the Galaxy Nexus is sure to make its fair share of sales on Verizon, but the long anticipated Apple iPhone 4S is now available on three carriers in the US alone. With the holiday season approaching, shipments for all handset manufacturers should go up. Even if Samsung is dethroned by Apple at the end of the year, no one can say Android’s number one smartphone manufacturer isn’t a force to reckoned with.

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