Korean smartphone giant Samsung today announced its third-quarter earnings, providing a look at how well the company is competing in the electronics, semiconductor and telecommunications sectors, confirming that although profit was down in the quarter, smartphone sales helped it to beat industry estimates to secure record high earnings.

With demand for consumer electronics beginning to slow, Samsung posted net profits of 3.44 trillion won ($3.09 billion) between July and September, down 23% from a year ago.

This beat analyst forecasts, that averaged at a value of 3.24 trillion won, as sales rose 3% over the year to reach 41.27 trillion won and operating profit fell 13% to 4.25 trillion won – matching the company’s earnings guidance issued earlier in October.

The results now suggest that Samsung has surpassed Apple to become the world’s leading smartphone maker, with sales in its telecommunication division seeing  300% rise from a year ago and a 40% increase from the second quarter. Analysts believe that Samsung could have shipped nearly 27 million smartphones in its last quarter, topping Apple’s 17.07 million.

Samsung continued to develop its range of Android and Windows Phone devices, ensuring it marketed its range to consumers in the low, middle and high smartphone markets, capitalising on a lull in Apple’s iPhone sales as consumers waited to upgrade to the iPhone 4S. Sales of the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II smartphones recently surpassed 30 million units.

Samsung expects its profit to increase into the fourth quarter, as it concentrates on its mobile phone and semiconductor divisions, the latter actually seeing fabrication of Apple processors for its new smartphone, something that sees the company work with its rival despite them waging patent war in courts worldwide.