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Big-screen smartphone shipments soar, account for one-third of market

Big-screen smartphone shipments soar, account for one-third of market
Large smartphones are becoming more popular. Above, Samsung's S5 smartphone, which boasts a 5.1-inch screen. (Jung Yeon-Je / AFP/Getty Images)

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% 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% of smartphone shipments, according to market research firm Canalys.

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All told, worldwide shipments of smartphones totaled 279.4 million in the first quarter, up 29% from a year earlier. Android devices accounted for 81% of the total, followed by iOS (16%) and Windows Phone (3%).

Among smartphone brands, Samsung was the leader with 31% of the market, ahead of Apple at 16%.

China was the world's largest smartphone market, accounting for 35% of shipments. The U.S. had 12%.

"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% 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."

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