Annual smartphone shipments surpassed 1 billion units for the first time in 2013, with volumes growing 38.4% from 2012, IDC estimates.
Smartphones accounted for 55.1% of total mobile phone shipments last year, the research firm said. In the fourth quarter alone, 284.4 million units shipped, representing a 24.2% growth from a year earlier.
Ramon Llamas, research manager with IDC's mobile phone team, pointed out that total smartphone shipments reached just under 500 million units in 2011. “Doubling that volume in just two years demonstrates strong end-user demand and vendor strategies to highlight smartphones,” he said.
One of the major factors driving the continued growth in smartphone sales is the ongoing rise of the low-cost smartphone segment, IDC said. Major markets including China and India are reaching the point where sub-$150 smartphones represent the majority of shipments.
Samsung maintained its lead in the smartphone market, ending the year with a market share of 31.3%. But Apple posted record shipment volumes during the fourth quarter as the iPhone 5S and 5C spread to new markets.
Huawei retained its number three position in smartphones with a 4.9% share of 2013 sales. But the vendor faces multiple potential competitors within striking distance, including LG with a 4.8% share and Lenovo with 4.5%.