Samsung is the largest handset manufacturer by shipments in all the land, pushing Nokia to second, followed by Apple in third place, according to Strategy Analytics. The numbers come after Samsung today reported net profit for the first quarter of $4.46 billion, nearly doubling year-over-year. 

Consolidated revenues hit $42 billion, while operating profit was pegged at $4.7 billion.

Samsung just barely edged out Apple in smartphone shipments last quarter but blew by the iPhone maker in its most recent quarter. According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung sold 44.5 million handsets in its first quarter. Apple this week reported selling 35.1 million iPhones during its second fiscal quarter of 2012.

While Samsung saw a dip in revenues from its core semiconductor business on weaker-than-expected PC demand, the company's mass market and high-end Galaxy S II and Galaxy Note smartphones all saw strong sales. Smartphone sales were up 30 percent sequentially, while average selling price (ASP) also rose.

Looking to this coming year, the company expects demand for entry-level smartphones and tablet PCs to increase significantly, while the growth momentum for feature phones is expected to remain flat. Samsung said that emerging markets and the spread of LTE will be major drivers for smartphone growth going forward.

Samsung's breakout performance for the quarter meant yet more bad news for Nokia. After being downgraded by both ratings firms Moody's and Fitch, Standard and Poor's today announced that it downgraded Nokia to a 'BB+' from 'BBB-' and its short-term corporate credit rating to 'B' from 'A-3', with a “negative”' outlook.

According to Strategy Analytics, Samsung now holds 25.2 percent of the total handset market, followed by Nokia (22.5 percent) and Apple (9.5 percent).