The rise of the smartphone hit a new milestone last year, with research showing that one billion handsets were sold for the first time. 

Figures from technology analysis firm IDC show that a total of 1.004 billion smartphones worldwide were sold in 2013, up 38% from the 725 million units in 2012. 

The Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker found that smartphones accounted for a little over half of all mobile phone sales last year, an increase on the more than 40% of all mobile phone sales they accounted for in 2012. 

In the last three months of 2013 alone, vendors shipped a total of 284 million smartphones around the world, up by a fifth compared to the same period last year.

Including smartphones, a total of 1.821 billion mobile phones were sold around the world last year, up by 5% on the previous year. 

Samsung was the clear leader in the smartphone market last year, although despite strong demand for its Galaxy S III, S4, and Note models, the company saw its market share in the last three months of the year, compared to the previous quarter. 

Following the addition of two new models and their wider availability around the world, Apple sold record numbers of its iPhones during the last quarter. 

However, that did not stop the company recording the lowest year-on-year increase in sale volume of all the leading vendors, according to IDC.

Meanwhile, Juniper Research disputes IDC's 1 billion smartphone sales figure, estimating instead that 980 million smartphones were shipped in 2013, representing a 39% growth compared to the previous year. 

Juniper claims smartphone shipments exceeded 280 million in the final three months of 2013. 

It says Samsung smartphone sales rose 40% last year, selling over 300 million handsets during the period, accounting for just over 30% of all smartphone shipments. 

However, according to Juniper, Samsung's market share and sales fell during the last quarter.

Juniper also notes that Nokia's handset sales fell by nearly 30% in the last quarter of 2013, with sales of the flagship Lumia range falling to 8.2 million. 

Overall, however, sales of the Lumia handsets were up in total over the course of the year.