Samsung's total worldwide smartphone sales have likely totaled more than 70 million units in the first quarter of 2013, or roughly a third of the overall market, according to a new report from Counterpoint Research.

The South Korean manufacturer is one of just three major global companies to see sales expansions in the first quarter, Counterpoint says, along with Apple and LG.

Locally, however, Chinese hardware makers are also posting big gains, according to Research Director Peter Richardson, who credits the Chinese New Year holiday for strong regional sales.

"It's not just the Big 3 Chinese brands, Huawei, ZTE and Lenovo who sold impressive volumes. Starting from late last year other tier 2 vendors using [Mediatek components] have been active in the sub-$200 smartphone space. Chinese vendors now account for 21% of the smartphone market," he says.

In contrast, Apple may have experienced inventory problems in the fourth quarter of 2012 that hurt sales at the beginning of this year. Counterpoint predicts that Apple's first-quarter smartphone totals will be "only" 35 million or so.

Android devices make up 70% of the global smartphone market, the research firm adds, compared to 21% for Apple and 5% for Windows Phone. The first two figures are identical to those presented in an IDC report on Q4 2012, which was released in mid-March.

That document asserted that Samsung was responsible for 42% of all global Android smartphone shipments during 2012, or 208 million units. That works out to a little better than 52 million per quarter, which would make Counterpoint's new figure an indicator of continued gains for the surging OEM.