Samsung Electronics Co. surpassed Apple Inc. in smartphone sales in the July-September quarter, according to the Korean company's mobile chief and industry reports Friday.
Shin Jong-kyun, president of Samsung's mobile division, estimated the company had shipped more than 20 million smartphones in the third quarter.
"I think it is more," he told reporters when asked if Samsung had sold more than 20 million smartphones in the three-month period.
Shin made the comments on Wednesday on the sidelines of the Galaxy Nexus launch event in Hong Kong, according to a voice recording of the briefing released later.
Apple said it sold 17.07 million iPhones during the three months to Sept. 24.
The U.S. company was the world's biggest smartphone maker in the previous quarter, followed by Samsung, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.
Samsung's spokesman declined to discuss the company's smartphone sales. The Korean firm is scheduled to release its third-quarter earnings results next week.
Market analysts and media reports estimate that Samsung shipped between 23 million and 28 million smartphones in the last three months, helped by the rollout of the Galaxy S2 smartphone in the spring.
The Galaxy S2 smartphone was introduced in Korea in April and went on sale globally in the following months. In the U.S. market, Samsung launched the Galaxy sequel in September through three mobile operators -- AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint.
Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Nexus earlier this week in collaboration with Google Inc., days after Apple's iPhone 4S went on sale globally.
Samsung may have also benefited from Apple's weak iPhone sales in the last quarter. Rumors about Apple's new iPhone kept consumers from purchasing new ones, Dow Jones Newswires quoted Apple's chief financial officer as saying.