The top-selling smartphone in the world in the third quarter of 2012 was Samsung’s Galaxy S3, according to figures published today by Strategy Analytics.

It claims the device shifted 18m units in Q3, ahead of the 16.2m iPhone 4S handsets shipped by Apple. Note, this is shipments, not necessarily sales to end users.

The third most popular smartphone was another iPhone model, though: the iPhone 5. Despite only going on sale 10 days before the end of the quarter, it shifted 6m units according to Strategy Analytics’ estimates.

“The Galaxy S3 captured an impressive 11 percent share of all smartphones shipped globally and it has become the world’s best-selling smartphone model for the first time ever,” says senior analyst Neil Shah.

However, his colleague Neil Mawston has predicted that the iPhone 5 will outship the Galaxy S3 in the final quarter of 2012, enabling Apple to retake its crown at the top of the list.