spot followed by HTC at No 4.
"Both HTC and RIM have seen their sales declining in the past few quarters, and the challenges might prevent them from holding on to their current rankings in coming quarters," Gupta added.
While seasonality in the fourth quarter will help end-of-year sales, Gartner warned that there will be a lower-than-usual boost from the holiday season as "consumers are either cautious with their spending or finding new gadgets like tablets, as more attractive presents".
Nokia's sales declined 21.9 per cent, but overall sales at 82.3 million were better than Gartner's early estimate, largely driven by increased sales of the Asha full-touch range.
Nokia had a particularly bad quarter with smartphone sales, and it tumbled to the No 7 worldwide position 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, although it won't be until 2013 to see a significant improvement in Nokia's position, says the report.
Apple's sales totalled 23.6 million units, up 36.2 per cent year-on-year.
"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," Gupta said, adding with iPhone 5 launching in more territories in the current quarter, including China, and the upcoming holiday season Gartner analysts expect Apple will have its traditionally strongest quarter.
In the smartphone market, Android continued to increase its market share, up 19.9 percentage points. Although RIM lost market share, it climbed to the No 3 position as Symbian is nearing the end of its lifecycle.