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Canalys has been collecting various bits of smartphone market data for the first quarter of 2014, so let’s take a look at how our favourite industry has fared so far this year.

As you might have expected, Android continued its dominance over the global smartphone market, with 81 percent of all new devices running Android, 16 percent running iOS, and just 3 percent of all handset shipped last quarter were using Microsoft’s mobile operating system.

Worldwide smartphone shipments for the quarter reached 279.4 million units, up 29 percent year on year. Samsung maintained its top spot with 31 percent of the market, followed by rival Apple with 16 percent. Whilst that’s all very much as expected, the data also suggests that Chinese manufacturers are also on the rise. Five out of the ten biggest vendors are based in China, with Huawei in third, Lenovo in fourth, Xiaomi in sixth, Yulong come in eighth and ZTE following in ninth.  Incidentally, China is now the world’s largest smartphone market, the nation accounts for 35 percent of all smartphone shipments, whilst the US accounts for around 12 percent.

Speaking of countries, there’s been a growing shift in market share from the BRIC nations in general, that’s Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These countries saw collective shipments of 123.4 million units in the first quarter, which works out to 44 percent of the global total.

“This is still a market segment led by Samsung, but the trend is unmistakably toward larger-screen handsets at the high end of the market.” Canalys Analyst, Jessica Kwee

Alongside the strong growth from emerging markets, large premium handset shipments are increasing at an even faster rate. The number of smartphones shipped that have 5 inch or larger displays grew by 369 percent over the year. In terms of Q1 global shipments, large devices account for about a third of all smartphones, rising to 39 percent of shipments in China and 43 percent in the Asia Pacific regions.

Smartphones by screen size Q1 2014

Most of the big Android smartphone manufacturers now have multiple devices which fit into the 5 inch and above category, which analysts are suggesting is helping to meet consumer expectations that high-end devices should feature large displays. Above the $500 price tag, 47 percent of all smartphones have 5 inch or greater displays, although it’s difficult to tell if this demand is due solely to consumer preferences for big displays, or simply due to a lack of new smaller flagship devices. Interestingly, 87 percent of flagship devices priced over $500 but smaller than 5 inches were iPhones.

2014 looks set to be an interesting year for hardware developers, with the Chinese and emerging markets renewing interest in large flagship handsets, spurred on by development from their home manufacturers. What this means for the rest of us remains to be seen, but we might just see a few cheaper 5 inch flagship models heading our way in the future.

Robert Triggs
Lead Technical Writer at Android Authority, covering the latest trends in consumer electronics and hardware. In his spare moments, you'll probably find him tinkering with audio electronics and programming.