SINGAPORE: One in three mobile phones sold in Southeast Asia in the last year was a smartphone, as total handset sales in the region grew 8% to 108m units.

Research company GfK found that the overall market for mobile phones in the region, including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, increased 14% in value terms, with smartphones rising sharply, at 61%, with sales worth $11bn.

Indonesia was the largest market with 37% of overall sales, but smartphone take-up rates varied across the region, ranging from 30% in Indonesia to 146% in the Philippines and 140% in Thailand.

Gerard Tan, Account Director for Digital World at GfK Asia, described the growth in demand for smartphones as "exponential" as Southeast Asian consumers switched from basic feature phones to the latest technology.

He said growth was being driven by smartphones that retailed between $100 and $200, but that there was also growing market share for local brands in the $50 to $100 price range.

Key factors for Southeast Asian consumers were demand for bigger screens of 4.5 inches and above, which currently account for 20% of total sales, plus growing popularity of the Android operating platform. Seven in ten smartphones now operate on Android.

"Given that there is a substantial two-thirds of the region's population who have yet to make the switch, there is still a sizeable potential market for manufacturers to capture and convert to smartphone users," said Tan.

He added: "Consumers in the developing regions will continue to be the driving force of the smartphone sector's strong double or even triple digit growth performance in the coming years."

Data sourced from GfK; additional content by Warc staff