The number of smartphones sold by 2016 could hit one billion, says Juniper Research.

According to the research firm, sales of handsets will surge by 230 percent, from the 302 million sold in 2010. However, because smartphone come with a high-end price tag, Daniel Ashdown, author of Juniper's smartphone report, believes economy models with an unsubsided retail value of under $150 (£xx) are likely to become the most popular sellers.

"Many consumers will want to upgrade from a feature phone to a smartphone, but still pay a feature phone price," he said.

Meanwhile, in emerging markets however a low price point will be essential.

The research firm also predicts the increase in handsets running Google's open source Android platform and the falling price of key smartphone components will help towards ensuring consumers can get their hands on smartphones at feature phone prices.

The smartphone market will also "remain robust" thanks to new technologies such as Near Field Communications, enables mobile phone owners o make payments by simply waving their handset across a special contactless reader in a store, Biometrics and 3D. Furthermore, the addition of other functions such as gamepads being integrated into handsets will boost sales.

Juniper Research also said smartphones are reaching the market which can morph into other devices – notably tablets and netbooks.

According to Fred Huet, MD of Greenwich Consulting, smartphones are phasing out feature phone.

"The fact that one billion smartphones will be shipped by 2016 isn't too surprising when you consider that Apple has sold 20 million iPhones in the previous quarter alone. What is unexpected is the fact that economy smartphones will account for nearly a third of shipments. This reflects a shift from smartphones being considered high-end and out of reach for most of the market, and means that smartphones will become much more accessible for the rest of the world."

"The fact that smartphone features are developing at such a rapid pace means that the smartphones of the future will be packed with new technologies, opening up digital money and mobile banking facilities for the masses. By 2016, we will be constantly connected to social networks and the internet and will use our smartphones to pay for goods. Our devices will be our wallets, loyalty cards, photo albums, and gateway to social worlds – and this includes cheaper models. However, the effect that the number of smartphone users will have on network capacity remains to be seen."