Smartphone shipments to surpass basic, feature phone deliveries this year, says NPD DisplaySearch

Worldwide, more smartphones will be shipped than basic and feature phones this year — a first for the handheld device that’s part computer, part entertainment center, part camera and part phone, according to a new quarterly report from NPD DisplaySearch.

According to the research firm’s latest “Smartphone Quarterly,” smartphone shipments are expected to reach 937 million units in 2013, compared to 889 million units for basic phones and feature phones. Between 2011 and 2016, smartphone shipments will grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 26 percent, to 1.45 billion units, which will account for two-thirds of the mobile phone market, the report finds.

”The global smartphone market is expected to continue growing rapidly over the next two years,” says Shawn Lee research director at NPD DisplaySearch. “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 finds emerging markets are driving most of the smartphone growth. Better download speeds that are becoming available as networks are upgraded to 3G and 4G are an important factor.

In these markets, entry-level smartphones priced at less than $200 are gaining momentum. China leads in the entry-level smartphone category, accounting for 55 percent of shipments, the report says. China is also the largest market for smartphones as a whole, and the Asia-Pacific region will account for more than 50 percent of smartphone shipments in 2013.

At the high end of the market, LTE-enabled smartphones will reach 23 percent market share in 2013, according to NPD DisplaySearch. As this segment of the global smartphone market grows, demand for several key features will increase as well. Shipments of AMOLED and LTPS LCD panels for full high-definition (FHD)-resolution smartphones are forecast to increase significantly, from 1.7 million units in 2012 to 113 million units in 2013, NPD DisplaySearch says.