Smartphone adoption across Asia continued to increase through 2016, with the penetration rate in the region rising six percentage points year-on-year to 51 per cent at end-December.

The Philippines posted the fastest growth, as smartphone adoption jumped from 42 per cent at the close of Q4 2015 to 57 per cent in Q4 2016 (see chart below, click to enlarge). Sri Lanka generated the second-highest growth rate, with adoption increasing 12 percentage points year-on-year to 41 per cent, while Indonesia ranked third with adoption rising 11 points to 50 per cent.
Asia smartphone adoption
New Zealand reported a ten-point gain, as its adoption rate hit 63 per cent.

India, one of the fastest growing smartphone markets in the world and now the second largest after China, had an adoption rate of 31 per cent, following a seven-percentage point gain.

The main surprises were Japan with a smartphone adoption rate of just 46 per cent (a year-on-year increase of three-percentage points), and Myanmar where the rate stood at 70 per cent following a four-point gain in 2016.

Singapore and Australia, both with high smartphone adoption, unsurprisingly had the slowest growth in the region.

Stand-out individual operators include 3 Hong Kong, which had a 91 per cent adoption rate some ten points above the territory’s average. LG Uplus’ rate of 89 per cent was nine points higher than South Korea’s adoption rate, while Maxis in Malaysia was five points higher than the country’s average 69 per cent.

In Thailand, True’s smartphone adoption rate was 51 per cent compared with the national average of 65 per cent, and in the Philippines, Globe’s rate was 55 per cent compared with Smart’s 59 per cent.

The adoption rate of Japan’s top three mobile operators is brought down by Wireless City Planning (an Advanced eXtended Global Platform, or AXGP provider) and UQ Communications (a WiMAX operator), which have few smartphone users, according to GSMA Intelligence. NTT Docomo’s rate is nine points below rivals’ KDDI and SoftBank’s 61 per cent.