The global demand for cheaper smartphones could be in line for some massive growth over the next few years. ABI Research is predicting low-cost smartphone shipments of 238 million in 2013 and more than triple that in 2018.
The report sees the devices filling out OEM portfolios for emerging and developed markets alike, which could push shipments to 758 million by 2018.
Analyst Michael Morgan said in the report that the feature gap between low-cost and top-tier smartphones is decreasing and that consumers on a budget are seeing low-cost smartphones as “good enough.”
ABI Research figures that low-cost smartphones could account for as much as 44 percent of worldwide shipments by 2018.
Nokia and Android handset makers like Alcatel, Huawei and ZTE have been faring well in emerging markets. Nokia, in particular, is focused on the sub-$100 phone market, which CEO Stephen Elop thought could be worth $40 billion by 2015.
But names synonymous with high-end and high-cost like Apple have struggled to gain traction in big markets like China. Apple is rumored to be at work on a lower-cost iPhone—reportedly dubbed the “iPhone 5C”—but with a speculated price settling around $300, it could still be left out of the emerging market party.