Shanghai (CNN) – One recent afternoon, two 17-year-old migrant workers from the nearby province of Anhui came to an electronics market in this Chinese metropolis with one goal in mind: To purchase a smartphone.
They browsed a couple of different models, before settling on a Samsung Galaxy Ace for 1,200 yuan (about $180). They traded in their old cell phones, good for nothing much more than making calls, sending text messages and maybe playing a few games.
One of the migrants said he looked forward to watching movies on his new device. The other said he did not really know how to use such a gadget.
Wang Shenyong, manager of the cell phone stall, said nearly all of his customers who have migrated to Shanghai from elsewhere for work are opting to purchase smartphones rather than low-budget fake phones that have long been a staple technology of China’s marginalized populations.
“The migrant workers are different than before,” Wang said. “They are more advanced now. They want a better life. They use these [smartphones] because they can know news very fast and share information with others.”
China is on the verge of a smartphone revolution. Falling prices of handsets made by foreign brands paired with domestic manufacturers churning out cheaper and cheaper devices, combined with faster and more affordable data plans, means China will overtake the United States as the largest market for smartphones this year, according to market intelligence firm IDC.