In its Monthly Market Pulse report, Counterpoint technology market research shows Apple increasing from a distant sixth place in September to third place behind first place Samsung and near second place Lenovo in the month of October.
The jump pushed Apple ahead of domestic Chinese vendors Huawei, ZTE and Coolpad, all of which sank in the month. Both Samsung and Lenovo increased their sales, but not as rapidly as Apple.
Apple has yet to launch on the largest mobile carrier, a development that has investors and analysts watching for hints of news. China Mobile says it is still in discussions with Apple, but has set a December 18 date for launching its 4G LTE service.
Only a few devices have been qualified to operate on China Mobile's new TD-LTE 4G network, which isn't compatible with most of the rest of the world's FD-LTE technology. Apple's iPhone 5s and 5c were both designed expressly to work on the new network.
Apple is poised to benefit tremendously as a launch partner with China Mobile, but has already created a major business among China's smaller carriers China Unicom and China Telecom.