NEW YORK: Multiple mobile phone ownership is on the increase in large emerging markets including Brazil, Russia and China, analysis by Nielsen has found.

The measurement company surveyed mobile subscribers across the US and BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India and China to establish that multiple phone ownership is highest in Russia but lowest in India.

Over half of Russians, at 51%, own more than one mobile phone, although most are likely to be limited to two handsets. Just 10% own three or more.

Comparable figures for Brazil are 48% owning more than one handset, with 33% owning two phones and 15% three or more. Brazil also has the highest rate of ownership for three or more phones.

In China, 36% own more than one phone, while just 6% have three or more and 30% two.

Overall figures for India and the USA are broadly similar, with single phone ownership standing at 89% and 83% respectively, two phone ownership at 9% and 12%, with three phone ownership at 2% and 5%.

Nielsen puts forward a number of reasons for this phenomenon, including the fact that some people will keep their old devices as backup when they upgrade.

But there are some more country-specific reasons, including a well-established market in BRIC countries for second-hand and refurbished phones.

In Brazil, for example, such handsets account for about one in 10 phones.

Another factor is the divide between smartphone and feature phone ownership. In China and Russia, smartphone owners are more likely to use their handsets for business, while non-smartphone owners have phones for personal use.

These two trends are expected to merge in the future as much of the mobile population in BRIC countries is forecast to own a second-hand or refurbished device.

Data sourced from Nielsen Wire; additional content by Warc staff