Apple has surpassed Finland's Nokia to become the world's largest handset vendor in revenue terms, a technology research company said Thursday.

Strategy Analytics said Apple overtook Nokia for the first time in the first quarter with iPhone revenue estimated at $11.9 billion on sales of 18.6 million units.

Nokia revenue was estimated at $9.4 billion for the period. The Finnish company remains number one overall in terms of units sold, selling 108.5 million handsets in the first quarter but for cheaper prices than the iPhone.

"With strong volumes and high wholesale prices, (Apple) has successfully captured revenue leadership of the total handset market in less than four years," said Alex Spektor of Strategy Analytics.

"In revenue terms, Apple is now the world's largest handset vendor, smartphone vendor and tablet vendor," added Neil Mawston, director at Boston-based Strategy Analytics.

Strategy Analytics also said that it expects that the number of smartphones running Google's Android software to surpass the iPhone by the end of the year.

Reporting its fiscal second-quarter results on Wednesday, Apple said it nearly doubled its quarterly net profit on record iPhone sales.

The Cupertino, California-based gadget-maker said it sold 18.65 million iPhones during the quarter, up 113 percent over a year ago and helped by the addition of a second US carrier, Verizon.

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