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Mobile phone prices in S. Korea most expensive

SEOUL, July 29 (Yonhap) -- Mobile handsets sold in South Korea were more expensive than anywhere else last year as high-priced smartphones accounted for a larger portion of mobile devices sold in the country, data showed on Monday.

The average selling price of a mobile phone stood at US$415 in the country last year, compared with the world average of $166, and marked the highest among countries surveyed, according to the data compiled by research firm Strategy Analytics.

The average selling price of a mobile phone in Japan was $390 last year, followed by Canada at $350, the U.S. with $323, Norway with $281, the data showed.

Strategy Analytics forecast that the average selling price in South Korea will hover above the $400 level through 2017.

Earlier data by Gartner Inc. also showed that the average selling price of a high-end smartphone reached $643.3 in South Korea last year, the second highest among 48 countries and regions surveyed.

The average selling price of a premium smartphone in Hong Kong was the highest at $814.6 last year. Taiwan, the U.S. and Poland trailed with $625, $523.5 and $510.8, the data showed.

South Korea's cell phone replacement rate is also the highest among major OECD countries as local mobile carriers' fat subsidies and aggressive marketing lure customers to change their gadgets frequently, another report showed.

About 15 million South Koreans, or 28 percent of mobile phone users in the country, replace their handsets every year, according to the report compiled by DigiEco, a research unit of KT Corp. The average mobile replacement rate in seven other nations, including the U.S., Australia, Canada and Japan, stood at 18.1 percent, the report said.

South Korea's smartphone population topped the 35-million mark in March and is expected to exceed 40 million by the end of this year. Currently, smartphones account for around 74 percent of all mobile handsets in the country.

Meanwhile, the number of subscribers to the so-called long-term evolution (LTE) mobile network in the country amounted to some 23 million last month, government data showed.

According to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, a total of 22.9 million people subscribed to the LTE service as of end-June, accounting for 40.8 percent of all mobile phone users.

The end-June figure was up from 2.19 million the month before, the data showed. The LTE service was introduced in the country in July 2011.

sam@yna.co.kr

(END)

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