This will mark the first time in 14 years that Finnish-based Nokia will not sit atop the global mobile phone business on an annual basis, according to IHS iSuppli.
Samsung is expected to account for 29 percent of worldwide cellphone shipments, up from 24 percent in 2011, according to the IHS, which said Nokia's share dropped to 24 percent from 30 percent.
This will mark the first time the South Korean electronics giant will occupy the top on a yearly basis, IHS said.
Samsung has also extended its lead over Apple as the top maker of smartphones worldwide, the survey said. Samsung will have 28 percent of the market, up from 20 percent in 2011, while Apple's share will rise in 2012 to to 20 percent from 19 percent.
"The competitive reality of the cellphone market in 2012 was 'live by the smartphone; die by the smartphone,'" said Wayne Lam, senior analyst at IHS.
"Smartphones represent the fastest-growing segment of the cellphone market and will account for nearly half of all wireless handset shipments for all of 2012. Samsung's successes and Nokia's struggles in the cellphone market this year were determined entirely by the two companies' divergent fortunes in the smartphone sector."
IHS said global smartphone shipments are set to rise by 35.5 percent this year, while overall cellphone shipments will increase by just one percent. This will propel 2012 smartphone penetration to 47 percent, up from 35 percent in 2011.
IHS noted that Samsung produces dozens of smartphone models every year that address all segments of the market, from the high-end to the low-end. Nokia is transitioning its smartphone line to the Windows operating system, resulting in declining shipments for the company.
Sales of Nokia's older Symbian-based phones have plunged, while its new Microsoft Windows-based handsets have been modest so far.
IHS said Samsung, which was in a tight battle in 2011 with Apple, has moved ahead decisively ahead of the California giant with a wide range of Android smartphone offerings, while Apple limited its smartphones to the premium iPhone line.
The report said BlackBerry maker Research in Motion will see its market share fall to five percent in 2012, from 11 percent in 2011.
IHS said it expects smartphones gains to accelerate in 2013, and to account for 56 percent of the mobile phone market.