STAMFORD: Asia Pacific was the only region to record annual growth in mobile handset sales during the first quarter of 2013, according to Gartner.

The research firm reported that sales in this region rose by 6.4% year on year to 226m mobile phones in Q1, a 53.1% share of the global market. Within this, China recorded a 7.5% expansion and accounted for 25.7% of global sales, a two-point increase on the previous year. 

"Chinese and local manufacturers have been exemplary at addressing the demands of buyers by offering affordable devices with optimum features such as 2.5G (EDGE) instead of 3G in a smartphone," said Anshul Gupta, principal research analyst at Gartner.

He also noted that local and Chinese manufacturers had more than doubled their share of the smartphone market within a year to 29%. Smartphones accounted for 49.3% of mobile phone sales worldwide, while feature phones saw a 21.8% contraction. 

"Feature phones users across the world are either finding their existing phones good enough or are waiting for smartphones prices to drop further," said Gupta. "Either way the prospect of longer replacement cycles is certainly not good news for both vendors and carriers looking to move users forward."

Within the smartphone segment, Samsung continued to increase its share, from 27.6% in the first quarter of 2012 to 30.8% in the same period in 2013. Over that time, Apple's share dropped from 22.5% to 18.2%.

Meanwhile, Android's gains among the competing smartphone operating systems continued, with the Google-owned system's global share rising from 56.9% to 74.4% over the 12-month period.

Elsewhere, total mobile sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa were down by 3.6% from the year before, while Latin America saw a 3.8% dip. The greatest declines came in Japan and North America, which were down by 7.3% and 9.5% respectively.

Data sourced from Gartner; additional content by Warc staff