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Apple has moved up two spots in the world phone manufacturer rankings, with LG and ZTE dropping down a rank and Nokia and Samsung taking the top two slots, according to new IDC research.

IDC’s latest report on the state of the worldwide phone market says it grew by 6.1 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2011. But that growth is actually quite a bit weaker than the 9.3 percent year-over-year gain for Q3, indicating that feature phones are falling out of favor fast.

“The mobile phone market exhibited unusually low growth last quarter, which shows it is not immune to weaker macroeconomic conditions worldwide,” said Kevin Restivo, senior research analyst with IDC, in a statement. “The introduction of high-growth products such as the iPhone 4S, which shipped in the fourth quarter, bolstered smartphone growth. Yet overall market growth fell to its lowest point since Q3 2009 when the global economic recession was in full bloom.”

The most interesting movement to happen this quarter was Apple blowing past LG and ZTE in shipments thanks to huge demand for the iPhone 4S, which is available in more than 90 countries. Apple now has the third place slot with a record-breaking 37 million iPhones moved in the fourth quarter. Apple is also now the largest smartphone maker in the world.

First place in total phone shipments is still Nokia, which has retained that position for some time by selling massive amounts of “dumb” feature phones. Nokia recently introduced several new Windows Phone smartphones like the Lumia 900, showing off a new direction for the company, which hopes to become a major smartphone player again. Nokia shipped 113.5 million phones total.

Second place went to Samsung, which offers a blend of powerful Android phones and cheap feature phones. Samsung was notable for breaking the 90 million phone mark for the first time in a single quarter and breaking the 300 million mark for the first time in a single year for 2011. The company shipped 97.6 million phones in the fourth quarter.

Rounding out the top five are LG and ZTE in fourth and fifth place, both dropping a slot because of Apple’s surge. LG’s phone shipments dropped a staggering amount, going from shipping 30.6 million phones in Q4 2010 to shipping 17.7 million in Q4 2011, a 42 percent decline. Chinese manufacturer ZTE boosted shipments 8.9 percent year-over-year in the fourth quarter with the shipping of 17.1 million phones.

Here’s the full chart of IDC’s top mobile vendor list:


Chart image: IDC

Apple Store photo: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat

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