Gartner‘s latest bundle of smartphone stats has just hit the wires, bringing with it some encouraging news for the folks in Cupertino. According to the firm’s Q4 report, Apple finished 2011 as the world’s top smartphone vendor by market share (19 percent), thanks to a Q4 that saw the company grab 23.8 percent of the market. During the quarter, Apple sold some 35.5 million handsets to end users, marking a mildly insane 121.4 percent increase from Q4 2010. This surge also helped Apple overtake LG to become the world’s third largest seller of all mobile phones, with a 7.4 percent market share last quarter, trailing only Nokia (23.4 percent) and Samsung (19.4 percent). Nokia, in fact, saw some of its lead wither away during Q4, with sales dropping 8.7 percent over the year, to 111.7 million units. On the OS front, meanwhile, Android continues to dominate Q4 with 50.9 percent of the smartphone market, but that’s slightly down from the previous quarter, when it grabbed a little less than 53 percent. Gartner attributes some of this to increased sales of the iPhone 4S, though it expects iOS’ share to decline over the next “couple of quarters,” as fewer users upgrade to the company’s latest handset. For more insight and analysis, check out the full press release, after the break.