Southeast Asia is an up-and-coming region for smartphones, with sales continuing to intensify and breaking the halfway mark in the overall handset market to surpass feature phones, according to a latest report from market research firm GfK.

In total, 18 million smartphones were sold across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam in the first quarter of 2014, up 43 percent from the same period a year ago. The value of all the smartphones sold in January through March was pegged at $4.2 billion, up 25 percent from the same period a year ago, according to the report.

Notably, in March 2014, smartphone sales made up 55 percent of the total handset market across Southeast Asia, as more people in the region upgrade from basic feature phones to smartphones. This momentum is only set to increase with the availability of low-cost Android devices making their way to the market, particularly from China.

According to GfK data, smartphones below $100 showed the strongest growth in sales to contribute the most in dollar terms for the first quarter of this year, accounting for over 30 percent.

Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand were the fastest-growing markets for smartphones according to sales volume in the first quarter this year — with growth rates of 68, 59 and 45 percent respectively. Indonesia also makes up the largest smartphone market, accounting for 7.3 million units in sales — that’s two-fifth of the region’s total.

In the meantime, GfK notes that phablets are getting increasingly popular too. Over 1.1 million units worth $567 million were sold in the first three months of this year, with Malaysia and Indonesia being the biggest markets.

Headline image via Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP/Getty Images