Data from industry analyst IDC appears to confirm that the Chinese manufacturer pushed Sony into fourth place during the period in question, with only Apple and Samsung selling more handsets.
The company, renowned for its budget Android devices, also pushed HTC and LG out of the top five during the quarter, with fellow Chinese phone-maker ZTE rounding off the top five.
IDC's figures for the whole of 2012 rank Samsung as the world's top smartphone manufacturer with 216 million handsets sold throughout the year, giving it a 40% market share.
Apple came in second with 137 million iPhones securing 25% of the market, while Nokia, HTC and RIM accounted for the other 18%.
Huawei is extending its reach into new areas of the smartphone market, with two blockbuster devices unveiled at CES this month - the 6.1-inch screen-packing Ascend Mate and the Ascend D2.