SAN FRANCISCO — Growth in shipments of wearable devices slowed in the first quarter of the year amid a shift in buying away from basic wearables to smarter devices, according to market research firm IDC.

First quarter wearables shipments reached 25.1 million units, an increase of 1.2 percent compared with the year-ago quarter, IDC (Framingham, Mass.) said. The growth rate was significantly lower than the 18 percent year-over-year growth rate that wearables notched in the first quarter of 2017, according to the firm.

IDC said shipments of basic wearables declined by 9.2 percent year-over-year. At the same time, shipments of higher priced wearables from Apple, Fitbit and numerous fashion brands increased by 28.4 percent, IDC said, continuing a shift in consumer preferences toward smarter devices.

Wearables by Shipment volume, market share and year-over-year growth

"With the move towards smarter devices, we're also starting to see hints of where the wearables market is headed," said Jitesh Ubrani, a senior mobile device research analyst at IDC, in a press statement.

Ubrani said the incorporation of more sensors, years of underlying data and improved algorithms are enabling companies like Apple and Fitbit to help identify diseases and other health irregularities. Nearly one third of all wearables shipped in the first quarter included cellular connectivity, allowing new use cases to emerge, he added.

Watches and wristbands accounted for 95 percent of wearables shipments in the first quarter, IDC said. Shipments of sensor-laden clothing — including step counting shoes, shirts, shorts and other items — increased by 58.6 percent year-over-year, according to IDC.

Top 5 wearables companies in first quarter of 2018

— Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.