Apple Inc will need to launch a larger iPhone to compete with large-screen models from handset makers running Google Inc’s Android platform, market researcher Canalys said.
Smartphone shipments totaled 216.3 million during the first three months of the year, showing a year-on-year growth of 47.9 percent, Canalys said in a report on Thursday.
Android handsets accounted for 75.6 percent of total smartphone shipments, while South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co increased its shipments by 64.3 percent year-on-year to maintain its dominance in the market with a 32 percent share, the report said.
By contrast, Apple saw modest annual growth of 6.7 percent in smartphone shipments during the first quarter — the lowest level since the launch of the first iPhone in 2007.
“Despite its slowing growth, Apple still shipped over 37 million iPhones,” Canalys prinicipal analyst Pete Cunningham said. “But HTC Corp (宏達電) and Samsung have raised the bar with their latest handsets, and Apple needs to respond with its next iPhone.”
The analyst was referring to Taoyuan-based HTC’s 4.7-inch HTC One and Samsung’s 4.99-inch Galaxy S4, both of which are equipped with a full-high-definition 1080pixel display.
The current iPhone 5 features a smaller 4-inch screen.
Cunningham said the iPhone’s user interface “is now six years old and badly in need of a refresh,” while Apple also faces “the dilemma” of deciding the size of the display on its next iPhone.
“It cannot afford to ignore the trend for larger displays in premium smartphones. We expect an increase on the iPhone 5’s 4-inch display, but are not anticipating a ‘Phablet’-style iPhone,” he said.
A phablet is defined by Transparency Market Research, a global market intelligence company, as a handset that has a screen of between 5 and 7 inches and features a 1-gigahertz or faster processor.
About 21 million Android-based phablet devices were sold globally last year and the numbers are expected to exceed 150 million units by 2018, according to Transparency Market Research.
The growing usage of mobile phones for different purposes, such as viewing images and videos, accessing the Internet and gaming with other people, has resulted in a need for devices with larger display sizes and superior quality, the firm said.
In the second half of last year, smartphone owners were most likely to be interested in devices with a screen size between 4.2 inches and 4.7 inches, up from 4.3 inches in 2011, market researcher Strategy Analytics said in a report published on Friday.
The report also found that nearly all respondents in its survey wanted their next phones to have a larger screen size than their existing handsets.
“As screen sizes increase, the way in which consumers interact with the device also needs to be considered,” said Kevin Nolan, vice president for the user experience practice at Strategy Analytics.
“Larger devices are harder to interact with one-handed, and so it is important for user interfaces — especially on-screen key placements — to be designed to allow for easy interaction,” he added.