Although growth slowed in the smartphone market across Europe, the Middle East and Asia during the second quarter, total shipments of 12.6 million devices still made it the second biggest quarter ever in volume terms.

Figures released by research house Canalys estimates that smartphones represented 13 per cent of all mobile phone shipments during the second quarter.

Nokia remained the market leader by some margin with 71 per cent market share, but its closest rivals posted higher than average year on year growth. Second-placed RIM, manufacturer of the BlackBerry, closed the market share gap by several points with a total of 7 per cent, and HTC, Motorola and Samsung more than doubled their shipments with 7 per cent, 3 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

Evidently, the closest scrap is going on between HTC and RIM, which are both fast approaching the 1 million smartphones per quarter mark, but Canalys believes that they might be overtaken by Apple during the third quarter, in the wake of the iPhone 3G being launched in many countries.

Given the economic climate and the high end features sported by handsets, the researcher expects that operators will likely become more unwilling to heavily subsidise devices without adequate proof of return, and contract lengths and the time between upgrades are expected to increase.

By way of features, Canalys estimates that 58 per cent of the smartphones that shipped in EMEA in the second quarter had integrated wifi, 13 per cent had stylus or finger-driven touch screens and 38 per cent had integrated GPS.

“Today, many owners are not making full use of their smart phone’s features,” said senior analyst with Canalys, Pete Cunningham. “Concern over usage costs is still a big barrier, though wider availability of flat rate data plans will help, and usability still needs to improve for certain applications on many devices.

“People are also wary of draining their battery and not being able to make calls. Battery life isn’t helped by having GPS and wifi turned on, nor by having a large, bright screen for navigation or web browsing. But there is clear demand for those features and applications, and advances in battery technology would enable quite substantial changes in usage patterns, with all the service revenue benefits that would bring.”