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ZTE has today announced that it is ranked as the 4th biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world as of Q3 2012, superseding HTC. Shipping 7.5 million handsets in a quarter is not to be sniffed at, but we suspect they're still a long way off the top spot.

It'll interesting to see how things change over the next couple of quarters. In Q3 this year ZTE were only 0.1% in front of RIM who are still holding on, but with BlackBerry 10 on the horizon they too could move up the rankings next year.

In addition, we have just seen Windows Phone 8 officially launch. If sales are good for the updated OS, this will not do ZTE any favors in the short term as they don't have a WP8 device ready as yet.

It's always a tough race with smartphone figures, but catching up Apple and Samsung will be a super tough challenge. Only time will tell.

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You can catch the full press release below the fold.

ZTE Named World’s 4th Biggest Smartphone Manufacturer:
30th October 2012, Shenzhen, China – ZTE Corporation (“ZTE”) (0763.Hong Kong /000063.Shenzhen), a leading global provider of telecommunications equipment, network solutions and mobile devices, today announced that it climbed one position to become the 4th biggest smartphone manufacturer in the world during the third quarter of 2012, according to IDC, a leading provider of global ICT market research and advisory services.

The IDC report, Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, details that ZTE shipped 7.5 million smartphones in the third quarter of 2012, closely following RIM with only 0.1 percentage points between them. Number 5 in Q2, ZTE overcame HTC in the last quarter to rank in the global top four smartphone providers for the first time.
The IDC data showed that ZTE’s increased market share is due to continued international diversification efforts in Q3. Traditionally dependent on sales in China, ZTE has now achieved significant uptake in developed countries with 35 percent of its overall smartphone shipments being sold in leading international markets, especially North America.

“The performance of our flagship Grand series smartphones has been a major driver of ZTE’s continued growth in the sector. These include both 3G and LTE devices such as the quad-core Grand Era, the dual core Grand X, and the Intel powered Grand X In. We also launched the world’s slimmest Quad-core Smartphone, Grand Era U985, in Q3,” said Mr. He Shiyou, ZTE EVP and Head of the Terminal Division.

“To maximize the exposure of these smartphones, we have focused on building our distribution channels across the world. Our flagship device, the ZTE Grand X, for example, has now been launched with top distributors in the UK, Switzerland, Turkey, Russia and Italy,” added Mr Shiyou.

ZTE smartphone shipments for the full year of 2011 were more than 15 million, an increase of 400% over 2010, making ZTE the fastest growing smartphone maker after Apple.