SINGAPORE: The popularity of smartphones is rapidly increasing across Asia, with these devices accounting for one in every five handsets purchased in the last quarter.

These handsets now contribute almost half of value sales, says market research firm GfK, which estimates that over 4.7 million units, worth $1.48bn (€1.10bn; £930m), were purchased in Q3 alone.

"Smartphones are the key drivers of the telecommunications industry at this moment," said Gerard Tan, the company's regional account director for telecommunications.

Tan added that last year's Q3 sales of 1.27m smartphones has more than tripled for the same period this year.

The exponential rise in smartphone technology has recently triggered an operating system (OS) war says GfK, with key Asian manufacturers keen to present their handsets on more user-friendly platforms.

Symbian for example, the leading OS since the second half of last year, now faces increased competition from the Android OS, in growth mode for much of 2010.

"Our Q3 report shows that Android has recently overtaken Symbian as the most popular smartphone OS in the context of Asia as a whole, in both value and unit sales," said Tan.

"However, it is interesting to note the difference in OS trends when we look at findings in North and Southeast Asia separately."

Other significant OS players include RIM and iPhone.

"With the myriad of mobile operating systems available in the Asia market right now, manufacturers have to look beyond hardware to succeed in this market," Tan concluded.

The figures covered Cambodia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

Data sourced from GfK Asia; additional content by Warc staff