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China to beat US as top cellphone market in 2014

China will overtake the U.S. as the world's largest mobile phone market this year for the first-time ever, according to research out on Wednesday.

Market research firm Strategy Analytics forecast that mobile phone sales in China would reach a record $87 billion in 2014, beating sales of $60 billion in the U.S.

Wang Zhao | AFP | Getty Images

"The United States is maturing and has now lost its crown to China as the world's largest mobile phone market by revenue," said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, in a release.

Chinese mobile phone revenues are seen surging 53 percent this year, compared to only 4 percent growth in the U.S.

A key driver for the Chinese market is demand for more sophisticated 3G and 4G phones, which offer users faster information transfer rates. The market looks promising, given that 70 percent of China Mobile subscribers still use 2G, according to research provider Canalys.

"Major brands, such as Samsung, Huawei and Lenovo, are aggressively expanding their distribution channels and product ranges across the region to meet extremely strong demand from Chinese consumers for more advanced mobile phones," Woody Oh, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in the release.

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However, Mawston noted that the U.S. remained by far the most profitable country by profit, even if no longer by revenue.

"High average selling prices for mobile phones and huge operator subsidies from Sprint and others continue to make the U.S. a very profitable market for major device brands such as Apple, Samsung and Alcatel," he said.

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