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The sensors in smartphones, which provide an array of features and functionalities to improve the overall user experience, are estimated to cross the 10 billion unit shipment mark in 2020, new research said on Thuesday.

According to Counterpoint's "Components Tracker" research, all sensors combined, more than six billion sensors were shipped within smartphones in 2017.

"Sensors such as Accelerometer, Compass, Gyroscope and Ambient Light Sensors (ALS) have become ubiquitous across smartphones even down to a sub-$50 category," Pavel Naiya, Senior Analyst at Counterpoint Research, said in a statement.

"These sensors have been the key components to make a phone smarter carving out meaningful use-cases from navigation, gaming, augmented reality to preserving battery life and much more," he added.

Some premium smartphones have already integrated more than 15 different sensors and this number is set to increase due to technological advances in Microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and other sensor technologies driving newer use cases.

"Biometrics base sensors in smartphones have seen greater adoption in the last few years. For example, more than a billion smartphones to be shipped in 2018 will sport a fingerprint sensor and close to 400 millon will feature some form of face unlock biometric sensor solution," Naiya noted.

Jene Park, Senior Analyst, said: "Iris scanner, 3D sensing, Gyroscope, NFC will be popular sensors this year, powering features from facial biometrics to AR/VR, immersive gaming, digital payments and others. Almost one in two smartphones will integrate an NFC solution or a Gyroscope by 2020."

Apple, Samsung and Xiaomi were the top three brands driving Gyroscope shipments with a combined 60 per cent share in 2017.

In NFC-based smartphone shipments, Samsung, Apple and Huawei alone captured 83 per cent of the market.