Shipments of smartphones with 5in screens and above have rocketed over the past year, with Samsung leading the surge in a market that arch rival Apple has yet to enter.
Data from analyst house Canalys found that 279.4 million smartphones were shipped in Q1 2014, up 29 percent on the same period last year but down five percent on the previous quarter, which included Christmas 2013.
Most notably, though, shipments of devices with 5in screens and above rose by 369 percent in the first quarter of 2014, compared with the same period last year.
In total, plus-sized sales accounted for 34 percent of the market. Devices under 5in still hold sway but this is changing rapidly, as vendors ranging from Samsung to Sony and Huawei bring large-screen devices to market.
Samsung now has a 31 percent share of the smartphone market, thanks in part to healthy sales of its 5in-plus Note 3 and Galaxy S5 devices. Overall, Android now accounts for 81 percent of smartphone shipments, according to Canalys, mirroring other analyst house figures.
Tim Coulling, senior analyst at Canalys, told V3 it was clear from the data that 5in and above smartphone screens are now considered the norm.
“It used to be that 5in and above was seen as too big but now we are seeing across the globe that all markets are accepting this. It is better for using a keyboard, for content consumption and browsing the web," he said.
"It is of growing importance and helps vendors offer a clear point of differentiation from Apple, which does not play in this space."
Indeed, the data from Canalys showed that smartphones with 5in or larger screens accounted for 47 percent of shipments in the $500-plus device category.
“I think Apple has to move into this space by bringing a larger iPhone to market. If you put their devices next to new, larger models from Samsung, Sony and HTC they do look like they’re from a bygone age,” Coulling added.
Apple is expected to bring a 5.5in iPhone 6 to market in September, alongside a 4in device.
Apple introduced a 4in screen with the launch of the iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C, which replaced its 3.5in iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S smartphones.
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