Samsung, the South Korean-based electronics company, is now the world’s largest provider of smartphones. In the just completed third quarter Samsung overtook Apple for the title, according to BGR.

During the July-September period, Samsung shipped 27.9 million smartphones worldwide versus Apple’s 17.1 million. In the previous quarter, Apple surpassed Nokia to take over the No. 1 spot, a distinction that lasted just one quarter.

According to Alex Spektor, Strategy Analytics Senior Analyst:

“Samsung shipped 28 million smartphones and overtook Apple to become the world’s largest smartphone vendor by volume with 24 percent market share. Samsung’s rise has been driven by a blend of elegant hardware designs, popular Android services, memorable sub-brands and extensive global distribution. Samsung has demonstrated that it is possible, at least in the short term, to differentiate and grow by using the Android ecosystem.”

Of course, Samsung’s No. 1 status could only be temporary. The iPhone 4S, the fifth-generation handset from Apple, only became available on October 14. Therefore, it will be interesting to see what the fourth quarter numbers look like. But for now, Samsung is indeed number one.

Update: The Loop contends that while Apple officially announced it sold 17.1 million units in the last quarter, Samsung only estimated their totals. Because of this, The Loop argues an actual comparison of units sold is necessary before giving Samsung the title. We’ve put this out there to discuss.