SEOUL, Feb. 1 (Korea Bizwire) - The number of feature phone users in South Korea declined sharply on-year in 2015 to hover below the 10 million mark, data showed Monday, reflecting the rising popularity of smartphones.
According to data compiled by the Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning, the number of feature phone users came to 9.99 million as of end-December 2015, compared to the 12.1 million posted a year earlier.
In contrast, the number of smarpthone users jumped 3 million over the cited period to reach 43.6 million in the country with a population of 50 million.
A feature phone is an older cellphone model before smartphones, the main functions of which are limited to calls, text messaging and very basic Internet services. The devices are still used by older subscribers as well as those seeking budget options.
Industry watchers say more users will swing to smartphones down the road as the average price of the high-end handsets has fallen over previous years amid the rise of Chinese tech giants rolling out price-competitive models.
South Korea’s No. 3 mobile carrier LG Uplus Corp. started selling Huawei’s Y6 smartphone in December, with sales reaching 20,000 units last month. The device can be purchased for almost nothing with the mobile carriers’ discount.
A local dollar-shop chain also started offline sales of the Xiaomi Redmi 3 late last month. Its initial sales volume of 300 units sold out in less than an hour.
On the back of the rising presence of Xiaomi and Huawei’s smartphones in South Korea, home-grown brands such as Samsung and LG have also been speeding up efforts to release more budget smartphones.’