Half of the top 10 smartphone makers in Q1 2014 were Chinese, with their home country accounting for 35 per cent of shipments, “substantially ahead of the US” at just 12 per cent, according to research from Canalys.

In terms of vendors, Huawei was global number three, followed by Lenovo (fourth), Xiaomi (sixth), Yulong (eight) and ZTE (ninth). Samsung and Apple held the top two spots.

Some 97.5 million smartphone shipped in China alone during the quarter, although this was down 3 per cent sequentially from the bumper Christmas holiday sales period. Nicole Peng, research director for China with the company, said: “4G will be the biggest growth driver for 2014 in the Chinese market, pushed heavily by China Mobile, which holds a dominant share of the 3G market but still has 70 per cent of its subscribers using 2G.”

Jingwen Wang, research analyst for the company, said: “Though Samsung remained the leading vendor in China with an 18 per cent share, the Chinese smartphone market continues to be driven by the dynamism and aspirations of local vendors. Helped by its Redmi range, Xiaomi became a top three vendor in China for the first time during the quarter, when just a year ago it was a niche player.”

While Xiaomi saw 97 per cent of its shipments from mainland China, just 8 per cent of TCL-Alcatel’s devices were in its home market. ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo saw 43 per cent, 40 per cent and 15 per cent of their devices sold outside of China, respectively, as they look to compete on the global stage.

Reflecting the growing importance of China and Asian markets, Canalys noted a 369 per cent increase in shipments of smartphones with 5-inch and larger screens – substantially greater than that of the market as a whole. Worldwide, these devices represented 34 per cent of shipments, hitting 39 per cent in greater China and 43 per cent in Asia Pacific.

Jessica Kwee, analyst with Canalys, said: “Consumers now expect high-end devices to have large displays, and Apple’s absence in this market will clearly not last long. It is notable that 5″ and above displays featured on almost half (47 per cent) of smartphones with an unlocked retail price of US$500 or more. Of the remaining 53 per cent of high-end smart phones, 87 per cent were iPhones. Apple plainly needs a larger-screen smartphone to remain competitive, and it will look to address this in the coming months.”

Worldwide, 279 million smartphones shipped during the quarter, representing growth of 29 per cent year-on-year, but a decline of 5 per cent sequentially. 81 per cent were Android devices, with iOS and Windows Phone accounting for 16 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

Canalys also noted that it was the first time that all four BRIC countries appeared in the top ten. India was the third largest market, accounting for 5 per cent of global shipments, with Brazil and Russia in eight and tenth, each generating 2 per cent of the volume.