For the first time ever, just over 1 billion smartphones shipped to vendors worldwide in 2013, double the number of just two years earlier, IDC said late Monday.
The record 1.004 billion smartphone shipments were driven primarily by lower smartphone costs -- to below $150 per phone for the majority of devices sold in China and India --and larger screen sizes, some with displays of 5 inches or more, IDC said.
Just 494.4 million smartphones shipped in 2011, and 725.3 million shipped in all of 2012, IDC said.
"Cheap [smartphones] are not the attractive segment that normally grabs headlines, but IDC data shows this is the portion of the market that is driving volume," IDC analyst Ryan Reith said in a statement.
The low smartphone prices for the majority of devices sold in China and India is the full price, not a subsidized one. That $150 price compares to the full unsubsidized price of more than $650 for many smartphone sold by U.S. carriers, including the iPhone 5S, IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said in an interview.
Samsung finished 2013 as the clear leader worldwide, with 313.9 million shipments of smartphones like the Galaxy S III, Galaxy S4 and several Note models.
With that many smartphones shipped, Samsung had double the market share of No. 2 Apple. Samsung's market share was 31.3% in 2013, compared to Apple's 15.3%. Apple shipped 153.4 million smartphones for all of 2013, posting the smallest increase in shipments -- up 12.9% -- compared to 2012. Apple saw the smallest increase of all the major vendors.
Still, Apple has seen phenomenal success with profits and posted record shipments in the fourth quarter of 2013, having offered the iPhone 5S and 5C and entering multiple new countries and the enormous market of China Mobile.
Huawei, LG and Lenovo finished third through fifth, in that order, for smartphone shipments in 2013. Each had below 5% market share and less than 2.2 million smartphones separating their positions. Huawei shipped 48.8 million devices (4.9% share); LG shipped 47.7 million (4.8%); and Lenovo, 45.5 million (4.5 %).
For the fourth quarter, the ranking was nearly the same, although Lenovo edged out LG for fourth position. Samsung finished the final quarter of the year with 82 million smartphones shipped (28.8% share); Apple shipped 51 million (17.9%); Huawei shipped 16.4 million (5.8%); Lenovo was fourth with 13.9 million (4.9%); and LG shipped 13.2 million (4.6%). All smartphone shipments combined in the fourth quarter were 284.4 million, IDC said.
LG, with its Nexus 5 and Optimus G series, edged out ZTE for the No. 5 position. Lenovo, meanwhile, has essentially no smartphones on sale in North America or Western Europe and is a company to watch. "Should the company become successful at branching into more developed markets in 2014, it could challenge Huawei for the No. 3 spot," IDC noted.
Nokia, once a powerhouse in smartphones, didn't finish in the top five for the fourth quarter or the full year, but was second to Samsung in all phones shipped, including smartphones and feature phones. Nokia's handset division is being purchased by Microsoft in a $7.4 billion deal expected to be completed this quarter.
For all phones -- smartphones and features phones -- shipped in 2013, IDC recorded the top five vendors in this order: Samsung with 446.7 million phones (24.5%); Nokia with 251 million phones (13.8%); Apple with 153.4 million phones (8.4%); LG with 70 million phones (3.8%); Huawei with 55.5 million phones (3.0%).
In all, 1.8 billion smartphones and feature phones shipped in 2013.
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is email@example.com.