Global handset shipments reached 324 million units worldwide in the fourth quarter of the year, rising 10 percent from 294 million units a year earlier, according to new figures from Strategy Analytics. The research firm said the numbers represented the handset market’s first quarter of positive growth since Q3 2008, signaling an end to the industry’s year-long recession. South Korean vendors Samsung and LG again shipped record volumes, while Motorola and Sony Ericsson edged their way back toward profitability. Full-year (2009) handset volumes reached 1.13 billion units in 2009, slipping 4 percent from 1.18 billion in 2008.

Nokia was deemed to have delivered the biggest surprise, registering better-than-expected sales as demand soared for its high-end smartphones. Nokia shipped a huge 126.9 million handsets worldwide in Q4 2009, jumping 12 percent from 113.1 million units a year ago. Strategy Analytics said it was the Finnish vendor’s best set of handset results since the first half of 2008. “Nokia has outperformed in smartphones, but longer-term challenges still remain, including below-average share of the high-growth touchscreen market and a tiny presence in the influential US market,” the research firm said in a statement.

Source: Strategy Analytics