A new report has estimated that worldwide shipments of smartphones will exceed those of basic and feature phones this year – for the first time. These estimates are part of NPD DisplaySearch's Smartphone Quarterly report

The report further expects global smartphone shipments this year to reach 937 million units compared to 889 million units for basic and feature phones. Interestingly, according to the report, in the period between 2011 and 2016, smartphone shipments will grow at a compounded growth rate of 26 percent – to 1.45 billion units, accounting for 2/3 of the mobile phone segment. 

Android, iOS made up for 91.1% of smartphone shipments in 4Q12: IDC

More smartphones than feature phones in 2013? (Image credit: Getty Images)

Shawn Lee, Research Director, NPD DisplaySearch, says, “The global smartphone market is expected to continue growing rapidly over the next two years. With larger, higher-resolution displays, faster processors, and higher-capacity cellular systems being built, the smartphone is not only becoming a must-have device, but is satisfying many needs that formerly required other computing and consumer electronics devices.”

The report attributes the growth of the smartphone segment mostly to the emerging markets, largely because of the better download speeds, as networks are being upgraded to 3G and 4G. In these markets, smartphones priced below $200 are getting popular, and China leads in the entry-level smartphone category with 55 percent of shipments. The country, in fact, is also the largest market for smartphones as a whole. And the report expects the Asia-Pacific region alone to account for over 50 percent of smartphone shipments this year. 

LTE-enabled smartphones, according to the report, are expected to grab 23 percent market share in 2013. 

Interestingly, the change is fast catching up with the prevalent screen sizes too. As per the report's estimates, in 2013, more than half (57 percent) of smartphone displays will range between 4-5-inch, while screens larger than 5-inch will grow to 16 percent of the market. 

In fact, panel makers are boosting the production of smartphone displays in larger-generation LCD factories to meet the demand for these larger panels.

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