China continues to set the pace as the world's fastest-growing mobile phone market. In the first half of the year, the mainland sold 53 million handsets - the most by any country in Asia. The mainland rang up US$9 billion worth of retail mobile phone sales during the period, according to a survey of 11 regional markets by research firm GfK Asia. The phones tracked by Singapore-based GfK Asia included GSM, CDMA and Personal Handyphone of colour with camera, colour display without camera and monochrome display models. It found the total volume of Asian market phone sales rose by about 36 per cent year on year from January to June, reaching about 107 million units. That meant mobile phone sales in the region are well on the way towards meeting GfK Asia's previously published year-end forecast of 23 per cent year-on-year volume growth of about 241 million units. Still, GfK Asia noted that Asia fell about 4 per cent short year on year in terms of retail market value, as first-half sales amounted to US$16.5 billion. It said the top five handset brands in the first half were Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and LG Electronics. Colour mobile camera-phones continued to dominate the Asian market in the first six months, selling about 55 million units. Their total value also increased 33 per cent year on year to more than US$14 billion. Stanley Kee, GfK Asia's commercial director for mobile phones and imaging, said sales of monochrome display mobile phones continued to decline across the region and that indicated these models 'are nearing the end of their product life cycle'. India was the only country in Asia to report dramatic increases in both the colour display without camera, with 170 per cent year-on-year increase in volume sales, and monochrome display, up 164 per cent, in the first six months. Pre-paid subscriber programmes and other promotions by domestic mobile phone service providers 'have revolutionised India's price-sensitive market and further decreased the financial obstacles of owning a handset', Mr Kee said. He added that new handset manufacturing plants being set up across India were driving the availability of low-priced handsets. In June, the average price of monochrome display handsets in Asia was US$57. Mobile phones with colour display but without a camera averaged US$97, while colour camera phones cost US$236 on average.