Most analyst estimates in the smartphone market are based on shipments, leaving industry folk to guess how many of those devices are in the hands of actual people, versus sitting on shelves or in warehouses.

Now Gartner has published its estimates of smartphone sales to end users for the third quarter of 2012, though. It claims 169.2m smartphones were sold in Q3, up 46.9% year-on-year, and accounting for 39.6% of all mobile phones sold in the world.

That includes 122.5m Android smartphones, 23.6m iPhones and 8.9m BlackBerry handsets. Meanwhile, the performance of Microsoft’s Windows Phone is put into perspective by the fact that its 4.1m sales were behind Samsung’s Bada OS (5m) and even Nokia’s mothballed Symbian (4.4m).

As ever, the caveat is that these are one company’s estimates, albeit well-regarded ones.