Smartphones will account for two-thirds of all mobile connections in 2020, according to a new report by GSMA Intelligence, with four out of every five connections coming from the developing world.
The study by the trade body found that smartphone connections will grow three-fold in the next six years to six billion, driven in part by a demand for low-end smartphones resulting in higher market penetration in developing countries.
Additionally, the GSMA estimated that one billion new smartphone connections will be made over the next 18 months alone. However, it said developed markets are nearing the 70-80 percent "ceiling" for smartphone penetration where growth begins to slow down.
In Europe, smartphone penetration will hit 75 percent by 2020, said GSMA. Between 2010 and 2013, smartphone connections grew by 39 percent, compared to a growth of 80 percent in Asia during the same period.
Asia Pacific is said to currently account for around half of global smartphone connections, largely due to a huge connection rate in China.
The country is the largest smartphone market at present with 629.2 million connections, followed by the United States (196.8 million) and Brazil (141.8 million).
Russia is the first European country in the top 10, at sixth with 83.9 million connections. Germany is at number eight with 48.5 million connections, followed by the UK (45.4 million connections) and France 43.5 million.
As a proportion of the total population, Finland and Norway have some of the highest smartphone adoption rates globally, along with South Korea, Qatar and UAE.
The developing world overtook the developed world in terms of smartphone connections in 2011, and currently accounts for two out of every three smartphones in the planet, claimed the GSMA.
An increase in the availability of mobile broadband in developing countries is also said to be driving smartphone adoption.
Hyunmi Yang, Chief Strategy Officer at the GSMA, said: “The smartphone has sparked a wave of global innovation that has brought new services to millions and efficiencies to businesses of every type.”
“In the hands of consumers, these devices are improving living standards and changing lives, especially in developing markets, while contributing to growing economies by stimulating entrepreneurship.”