Vietnam ranked second among the fastest growing markets for smartphones in the Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region, owing to the popularity of 3G (third – generation network) and budget smartphones.

GfK, one of the world's largest research company, revealed in a report last week, adding that the top three growth markets for smartphones according to sales volume in the first quarter were Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, which recorded 68, 59 and 45 percent increased sales, respectively.

Indonesia is also the largest market, with consumers purchasing over 7.3 million units or two-fifth of the region's smartphones.

Meanwhile, the percentage of smartphone sold in Vietnam in the first quarter had surpassed featured phones, reaching 55 percent, the Germany-based market researcher reported.

GfK attributed the fast development of smartphone market in Vietnam to the increasing popularity of 3G, which according to the Ministry of Information and Communications the data service had covered over 80 per cent of the Vietnam 's territory.

"The intensified penetration in Vietnam and Thailand was probably driven by the 3G launch last year, which served as a catalyst tipping consumers in these two countries towards the smartphone segment," pointed out Gerard Tan, account director for Digital World at GfK Asia.

"At the same time, a mix of Chinese and local brands have penetrated into the smartphone market of emerging countries with very attractively priced models to appeal to the low-end segment, managing to convert those consumers who cannot afford the premium phones."

According to GfK, this apparent trend is reflected by the fact that smartphones priced lower than 100 USD turned in the strongest growth to become the largest contributing segment in terms of dollar, accounting for over 30 percent in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, phablets, or large smartphones, with a screen size measuring over 5.6 inch have become increasingly popular.

Over 1.1 million units worth a total of 567 million USD have been sold, with Malaysia and Indonesia being the largest markets for this sector.

According to Nguyen Le Minh, director of FPT Retail's smartphone trading department, the demand for smartphones in Vietnam has experienced a surge since the beginning of this year.

Minh noted that more and more consumers choose smartphones with larger screen size (phablet), accounting for 4.6 percent of the total smartphones sold in April.

"The number of phablets sold in April was up three times compared to the same period last year," he added.

Meanwhile, according to a representative from The Gioi Di Dong Joint Stock Company, a prominent mobile phone retailer in Viet Nam , the sales of smartphones at its network experienced a 60 percent increase in the first five months of the year.

Deputy General Director of The Gioi Di Dong Tran Kinh Doanh stated that the smartphone segment in Vietnam is still very hot and will develop further in the coming time.-VNA