Samsung keeps smartphone sales crown, Nokia drops from top 5

Samsung not only retained its top spot in worldwide smartphone sales, it set a record for the most smartphones sold in a single quarter by any vendor. IDC reported the data on Friday with Samsung moving an estimated 56.3 million smartphones in the third quarter of this year. Total number of smartphones for the three month period for the industry as a whole totaled 179.7 million units; a spectacular number when compared against the 87.8 million PC sales in the same quarter, per IDC.

Not coincidentally, The Verge notes that Samsung reported a record $7.4 billion in operating profits for the quarter, with the company’s mobile business unit accounting for half of all revenues. Although Samsung may have lost a preliminary judgment to Apple for $1.05 billion, it’s almost starting to look like a good investment both in terms of market share and profits.

Apple(s aapl) retained the second smartphone sales spot with 26.9 million handsets sold while Research In Motion(s rimm), ZTE and HTC round out the top five. ZTE actually showed the most second-highest growth — behind Samsung with 82.9 percent growth over the year ago quarter. RIM and HTC had lower sales than a year ago, but even that wasn’t enough to help Nokia(s nok) which fell out of the top 5 for first time that I can recall.

IDC didn’t break out platform sales, but with Windows Phone(s msft) still not catching on, it’s reasonable to assume that most of the sales from Samsung, HTC and ZTE represent Android, while Apple’s and RIM’s clearly represent those of iOS and BlackBerry respectively.