Q3 smartphone sales jump 42%

While the mobile phone industry saw only a tepid growth of 5.6% in the most recent quarter, the number of people buying smartphones is rapidly on the rise.

According to mobile tracking firm Gartner, more than 115,000 smartphones were sold in the third quarter of 2011, compared to just 81,000 during Q3 2010.

The company mainly defined smartphones as any mobile phone running Android, Symbian, iOS, Blackberry OS, Bada, Windows Mobile, or Windows Phone.

“Strong smartphone growth in China and Russia helped increase overall volumes in the quarter, but demand for smartphones stalled in advanced markets such as Western Europe and the U.S. as many users waited for new flagship devices featuring new versions of the key operating systems,” explained Gartner principal research analyst Robert Cozza.

Of those sold, Android took the lion’s share, with 52.5% of all smartphones sold. Last year, Android was only sitting at 25.3% with Symbian towering over at 36.3%.

Symbian, of course, is Nokia’s proprietary smartphone platform, which effectively died earlier this year when Nokia announced it would begin making Windows Phone-powered devices. Symbian still retains just 16.9% of the market.

But when it comes to all mobile phones, Nokia is still king. The company accounts for 23.9% of all cell phones sold around the world (Samsung is next at 17.8%, and everyone else is left eating between 2% and 5%). That is due in large part to the company’s near monopolistic presence in developing parts of the world, where other manufacturers see no value. So although Nokia has higher unit sales, the money it is earning from each unit is substantially less than what other manufacturers are earning.