Shipments of smartphones in China exceeded 10 million for the first time last year, according to new market data.
The feature-rich phones are considerably stronger income generators for mobile operators than standard mobile phones.
While smartphone users are still a minority among China's mobile phone subscribers, the handsets are primed for mass market adoption, according to In-Stat analyst Raymond Yan.
"The most important factors respondents consider when purchasing a smartphone are function, brand and price," he said.
Despite the apparent importance of the mobile phone's operating system in determining functions, In-Stat found that Chinese buyers rarely factor this into their purchasing decisions.
In fact, most owners said that they did not know which operating system their smartphone used.
Consumers are particularly interested in entertainment features. More than half of all smartphone owners paid $25 or more a month for services provided by mobile network operators or third-party wireless value added service providers.
Factors driving smartphone shipments in 2006 are the continuous improvement of smartphone functions, the introduction of mid-range models, better designs and the growing number of third-party applications, In-Stat reported.
However, early adopters do have complaints about the models currently on the market.
"Security, internet access and synchronisation with PCs are the top three problems for existing smartphone users," said Yan.
Despite these issues, China's smartphone users appear to be hooked on their handsets. In-Stat found that only two per cent of current smartphone owners might not opt for a new smartphone when their current handset needs replacing.
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