BEIJING: Apple's prospects appear particularly bright in the Chinese smartphone market, where it leads rival brands in terms of purchase intent.

AlphaWise, a unit of investment bank Morgan Stanley, surveyed 2,029 mobile subscribers, and revealed 87% hoped to buy a 3G-enabled handset upon replacing their existing device.

Within this group, 30% expected to opt for an iPhone, making Apple's pioneering gadget the premier offering on such a metric.

But price remains a barrier, as ratings here climbed to 53% once respondents were asked to exclude cost from the consideration set.

Nokia, which heads the 3G sector by current ownership, secured 25% when participants picked between the various alternatives they were most likely to acquire.

Less favourably for the Finnish corporation, if issues related to the potential expense are eliminating, it logged 20%.

Other players in the category witnessed parallel trends, as demonstrated by Samsung, which saw these figures reach 5% and 4% respectively.

Similarly, HTC posted 7% if contributors weighed up all the relevant factors, but only 5% where finances did not feature in consumer calculations.

Research in Motion, manufacturer of the BlackBerry, improved from 5% to 3% under the same scenario.

Motorola delivered around 4% when discussing likelihood to purchase, while Taiwanese firm Dopod registered approximately 3%, just ahead of Sony Ericsson.

Lenovo, Coolpad, Huawei, ZTE and LG followed in the charts, as scores dropped closer to 1% for the last two operators.

In assessing the criteria that were "very important" in shaping their choices, two-thirds of the panel cited battery life, decent warranties and good after-sales service.

Roughly 60% referenced reception quality and value for money, 55% desired a brand with an impressive reputation, and a majority mentioned fast internet access.

At least 40% displayed an interest in the ease of connecting handsets to additional devices, a large internal memory, user-friendly interface and multimedia functions, and 35% prioritised a "trendy, modern appearance".

Nokia topped the rankings covering perceptions about its reputation, selected by over 45% of the sample, measured against Apple's 30%.

Equivalent totals stood at 40% and 21% in turn concerning the value these two companies provided to customers.

Nokia also trumped Apple regarding anticipated reception, after-sales service, battery longevity and the relative simplicity of linking devices to different appliances.

By contrast, some 45% of those polled believed the iPhone would supply higher-speed web capabilities, almost doubling Nokia's numbers.

Exactly 50% of Chinese subscribers thought Apple promised the best multimedia experience and most intuitive usage system, easily surpassing the chasing pack.

Elsewhere, more than 60% of shoppers viewed the iPhone as a status symbol, and over 55% said it was visually appealing, safely beating the competition.

Earlier this year, Timothy Cook, Apple's chief operating officer, reported quarterly sales - including Greater China, Hong Kong and Taiwan - had surged to $2.6bn.

"We several years ago identified China as our top priority, and we put enormous energy into China, and the results of that have been absolutely staggering."

Cook added: "It's clear that we're introducing a lot of people to Apple who previously had not been introduced to the company, and I think that helps across the product line."

Data sourced from All Things D, Fortune, Seeking Alpha; additional content by Warc staff