Apple’s smartphone shipments increased by 128% year-on-year in Q4, meaning that it has now jumped to third overall in worldwide mobile phone shipments.

The report from the International Data Corporation shows that Nokia and Samsung maintained their positions as one and two in the table, with 113.5m and 97.6m units shipped respectively. For now, Apple is still some way behind with 37m units shipped.

Nokia and Samsung’s strength comes from their dominance of lower-end mobile sales in emerging markets, while Apple relies solely on smartphones.

Samsung managed to edge closer to knocking Nokia off the top spot by increasing sales of both low-end phones and smartphones.

The IDC said the launch of the iPhone 4S, which is now available in over 90 countries, was the primary reason the company leapt over LG and ZTE in Q4.

Looking at the year as a whole, the worldwide mobile phone market maintained its upward trajectory by growing 11.1% in 2011, down from 18.7% in 2010.

The IDC put this down to a slowing demand for low-end phones as smartphones take a larger share of the market.

Apple experienced massive annual growth with an increase of 96.2%, while Samsung’s shipments grew by 17.6%.

Nokia (-7.9%) and LG (-24.5%) were the only brands that experienced a decline in shipments.