Sales of camera phones beat projections in 2002 and are expected to more than double this year, driven largely by Japan's love affair with snapshots, a new study said.

Approximately 18 million cell-phones with built-in cameras were sold last year, ahead of expectations of 16 million, according to a Strategy Analytics report.

Some 13 million of the phones were sold to Japanese consumers. Japanese manufacturers including

Sharp

and

Toshiba

have led the market in their home region and have been selling camera phones for the past two years.

Nearly 40% of all camera phones were sold through a

Vodafone

(VOD) - Get Report

-owned wireless carrier. Vodafone co-owns the U.S.'s largest wireless operator,

Verizon Wireless

.

This year, the research firm expects manufacturers worldwide to sell 37 million phones with cameras.

In the fourth quarter, 9 million camera phones were sold, as the world's largest handset manufacturers rolled out new handsets.

Nokia

(NOK) - Get Report

on Wednesday said it plans to begin shipping its latest phone, the 3650, in the U.S. While it has been available in several Asian markets since January, it is expected to go on sale in the U.S. at the beginning of March, a spokesman said.