Apple will become the top-ranked smartphone vendor in terms of shipment volume for the first time in 2011, overtaking Nokia.

That's the verdict of a Digitimes Research report released today, which estimates Apple will ship some 86.4 million iPhones in 2011.

Total global smartphone shipments will reach 462 million, a 60 percent increase on the 288 million units shipped in 2010.

Nokia will slip to second place with its 2011 shipments declining to 74.4 million units from over 100 million in 2010. Samsung takes third place with the highest shipment growth among the top five brands in 2011, climbing 44 percent to 67 million units.

But it is Huawei which is the real rising star, Digitimes said, with an increase of more than 400 percent in total shipments from 2010.

"Combined shipments from the world's top five smartphone companies in 2011 are forecast to exceed 333 million units, which will account for 72 percent of total units expected to be shipped. The proportion came to as high as 85 percent in 2010, when the top five vendors shipped a total of 244 million units," the report said.