IDC estimates that China will make up for 26.5 percent of global smartphone shipments in 2012 compared to 18.3 percent in 2011. This will make the country the largest consumer of smartphones, ahead of the 17.8 percent share for the U.S. which is smaller than the 21.3 percent share last year.

“Near-term prices in the low-end segment will come down to $100 and below as competition for market share intensifies among smartphone vendors,” said IDC analyst Wong Teck-Zhung. “Carrier-subsidised and customized handsets from domestic vendors will further support the migration to smartphones and boost shipments. Looking ahead to the later years in the forecast, the move to 4G networks will be another growth catalyst.”

More affordable smartphones means that growth in countries like China, which have less disposable income than in markets like the U.S. and the U.K., will continue to grow rapidly. By 2016, IDC believes that China will remain the world’s leading smartphone market, though emerging countries like Russia, Brazil and India will be cutting into that lead.