LOS ANGELES – When it comes to smartphones, these days bigger seems to be better.
Worldwide shipments of smartphones with screens measuring 5 inches or more soared 369 percent in the first quarter compared with a year earlier, a growth rate substantially faster than that of the overall market. Worldwide big-screen devices represented 34 percent of smartphone shipments, according to market research firm Canalys.
All told, worldwide shipments of smartphones totaled 279.4 million in the first quarter, up 29 percent from a year earlier. Android devices accounted for 81 percent of the total, followed by iOS (16 percent) and Windows Phone (3 percent).
Among smartphone brands, Samsung was the leader with 31 percent of the market, ahead of Apple at 16 percent.
China was the world’s largest smartphone market, accounting for 35 percent of shipments. The United States had 12 percent.
“The trend is unmistakably toward larger-screen handsets at the high end of the market,” said Canalys analyst Jessica Kwee. She noted that Samsung held a 44 percent share of devices with displays of 5 inches or more.
“Consumers now expect high-end devices to have large displays, and Apple’s absence in this market will clearly not last long,” she said. “Apple plainly needs a larger-screen smartphone to remain competitive, and it will look to address this in the coming months.”