Being smartphone savvy will be a whole lot easier, with about half a billion low-cost versions to enter the global market by the end of the year, according to Deloitte's Technology, Media and Telecommunications 2012 Predictions.

The report predicts the penetration of cheaper smartphones into the New Zealand market, at prices around $200 to $300.

"It's almost the perfect solution as a starter phone for teenagers wanting to enjoy the look and feel that smartphones offer, without the high price tag of more sophisticated handsets,'' John Bell, telecommunications leader at Deloitte New Zealand, said in a statement.

The flurry of smartphones will prompt an increased demand for applications, although the report says only one-fifth of all downloaded applications have been downloaded more than 1000 times. That number is set to double by the end of 2012, the report found.


Use of "digital wallets,'' mobile devices embedded with a credit card, is expected to top 300 million by the end of 2013, especially for healthcare, gaming and gambling.

Bell said New Zealanders may be uncomfortable using a phone to pay for items, concerned about security of the devices. However, this perception will change quickly as people understand their advantages, such as the case with Wellington and Auckland citizens who can access contactless payment when using public transport.

"Demand for data just keeps growing - consumers are still making investments in new technology, particularly those which enrich their lives,'' Bell said.