Samsung continues to lead Apple in worldwide sales of mobile phones. That’s one of the findings in the new Gartner report, which covers the second quarter and was released Tuesday.

While total sales of mobile phones to end users declined 2.3 percent, compared to the same time last year, smartphone sales rose 42.7 percent in the second quarter, to reach more than a third of the total. According to Gartner's report, Samsung phones had a 21.6 percent share of mobile device sales, up more than 5 points from the same time last year, while Nokia had 19.9 percent, Apple 6.9 percent, and others under 5 percent.

Waiting for New Models

Gartner analyst Anshul Gupta noted in a statement that the slowdown was due to the “challenging economic environment and users postponing upgrades to take advantage of high-profile device launches and promotions available later in the year.”

Gupta also pointed to a decline in the popularity of feature phones. Smartphones will continue to see increases in sales, because of the upcoming launch of Apple’s iPhone 5 and other major device launches later this year.

Samsung increased its strong position, with sales up 29.5 percent compared to the second quarter of last year, and it continues its lead over both Apple and Nokia. Galaxy smartphones were its hot item, particularly the S3, which was the best-selling Android product in the quarter.

Meanwhile, demand for the iPhone dropped 12.76 percent from the first quarter, although it’s up 47.4 percent over last year. Gartner said Apple sales will continue to be weaker than normal until the launch of the new iPhone, expected in September.

Samsung, Apple vie for the Crown

Gupta noted that Samsung and Apple “continued to dominate the smartphone market,” with about half of the market share between the two of them and no other vendors having close to 10 percent.

The report also showed continuing bad news for Nokia, still trying to rally its sales as it moves from its Symbian platform to Microsoft’s Windows Phone. Sales for the Finnish company dropped 14.8 percent in the second quarter over last year, with much of the decline attributed by Gartner to heavy competition by new device makers for feature phone sales.

In mobile device sales by operating system, Android remains king of the hill, with 64 percent market share, compared to 43 percent during second quarter of 2011. Apple’s iOS is second with 18.8 percent, virtually unchanged from last year’s 18.2 percent, followed by Symbian at 5.9 percent, Research in Motion at 5.2 percent, and Bada and Microsoft at 2.7 percent.