Analysis of smartphone shipments shows display size matters

Research from Canalys reveals a third of smartphones shipped in Q1 had 5-inch plus displays. Will Apple follow suit?
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

Smartphones are ubiquitous in the U.S., but according to new figures from the independent analyst firm Canalys, variations abound when it comes to the details.

As for total global shipments of smartphones, Americans barely put a dent in the percentage. China clocked in as the leader in smartphone shipments, accounting for 35 percent. The U.S. market took in less than half of that, managing just 12 percent of total global shipments.

Even more telling than the geographic breakdown of shipments is how the devices varied across vendors and operating system providers. Out of all 279.4 million smartphones shipped in Q1 2014, 81 percent were Android devices, with iOS and Windows Phone accounting for 16 percent and 3 percent, respectively.

That's a pretty hefty gap between rival OS providers Android and Apple. 

But according to additional figures from Canalys, there's one area where Apple can make inroads toward capturing a bigger share of the device market, and it's all about screen size.

Smartphones with 5-inch and larger screens grew 369 percent — a considerably greater rate of growth than the overall market. Worldwide, they represented just over a third of shipments. 

Samsung leads this particular market segment, as it held a 44 percent share of devices with 5-inch and above screens.

Diving deeper into the numbers shines light on Apple's strengths, shortcomings and must-haves. With 5-inch and above screens featured on 47 percent of smartphones, a majority of the remaining 53 percent of phones with smaller screens handily belongs to Apple. The Cupertino, California-based powerhouse accounts for 87 percent of high-end smartphones with screens less than 5 inches.


According to Canalys analyst Jessica Kwee:

Consumers now expect high-end devices to have large displays, and Apple's absence in this market will clearly not last long. Apple plainly needs a larger-screen smart phone to remain competitive, and it will look to address this in the coming months.

If rumors are any indication, Apple could be heeding the call with the upcoming WWDC debut of the iPhone 6. Speculation has been accelerating in recent weeks as to the specs of the next-gen iPhone, but the general consensus puts the new screen size in a range of 4.7 inches and 5.5 inches, bringing it up to par with competitors that have all adopted larger displays.

Even without bulking up its display, Apple's flagship product is still a cash cow for the company, with 43.7 million iPhones sold during its recently reported second quarter. That made it the iPhone's third best quarter to date.

Read more:

Editorial standards