Smartphones lose luster at CES Asia in Shanghai

VR headsets, automobiles, and drones are outshining mobiles at this week's CES Asia in Shanghai on the backdrop of a reduced demand for mobile handsets in the region.

Despite CES Asia doubling its size for the 2016 event in Shanghai and attracting more than 300 companies from 23 different countries, smartphone brands have failed to steal the limelight.

Huawei, Samsung, and lesser-known local Chinese handset makers including LeTV and Qihoo 360 are among the few smartphone brands showcasing smartphone products during the event this year, according to a Sina news report from Thursday.

Even so, LeTV and Qihoo 360 are mainly utilising their smartphone products as a medium to display their application ecosystems and networking technology, according to the report.

Companies in virtual reality, 3D printing, and wearables have swarmed into this year's event, and major automobile companies and drone makers are also showcasing their latest products, reflecting the focus of January's event in Las Vegas.

Sony, Microsoft, HTC, Samsung, and Google are among the companies showcasing VR products, the report added.

A panel discussion during CES Asia 2016 suggested that global shipment of wearables rallied by 164 percent in 2015 over a year earlier, while sales of VR headsets are expected to achieve a compounded growth of 59 percent between 2015 and 2020.

After years of fast expansion, the mobile handset sector in the region is encountering a notable slowdown.

China's smartphone shipments hit 104.9 million units in the first three months of 2016 -- a decline of 5 percent over the 109.8 million units in Q1 2015, according to research from Strategy Analytics released in April. Huawei maintained its first place by snatching 15.8 percent market share in the country, followed by OPPO and Xiaomi, taking 12.6 percent and 12.2 percent, respectively, according to the research.

Correction 12:17pm AEST May 13, 2016: Location of January's event to Las Vegas.