Galaxy S4 due in February
Samsung plans to unveil new device at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics plans to unveil the latest in its Galaxy line, the S4, at a European technology exhibition in February, according to company officials and local parts suppliers for the technology giant.
The timetable was released just three days after rival Apple introduced the iPhone 5, which has received a mixed response from industry experts and consumers as it is seemingly lacking in innovative features.
``Samsung is ready to unveil the next Galaxy smartphone _ the Galaxy S4 _ at early next year’s mobile world congress (MWC) in the Spanish city of Barcelona,’’ said an official from the firm asking not to be identified, Sunday. The new device is expected to hit shelves globally in March at the latest.
MWC is the biggest exhibition in the world for telecom companies and Samsung, will exhibit the new Galaxy at its booth.
The new Galaxy, expected to be the firm’s most powerful handset yet in terms of hardware specifications and software advancement, will help the Suwon-based outfit further cement its leadership in the global smartphone market.
The official said that the smartphone, due out nine months after the May debut of the Galaxy S3, will be more than enough to curb Apple’s latest iPhone, compatible with long-term evolution (LTE) networks.
In Europe, Samsung is gaining a bigger share of the smartphone market. The Korean company was involved in patent disputes with Apple in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. A recent ruling in the U.K. said Samsung didn’t infringe on Apple’s design patents.
Executives from Samsung’s local parts suppliers said the company’s new flagship smartphone will ``definitely use’’ LTE networks. It will also sport its in-house Exynos-branded application processors and quad-core chips. The S3 is using both Samsung’s Exynos and Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors depending on the country.
``Samsung is asking Apple to pay more to use its mobile application processors produced at its plant in Austin, Texas. The release of the S4 means more market share for Samsung as it is the only firm that can guarantee on-time delivery, output commitment and better pricing for mobile application processors,’’ said one executive.
The screen size of the S4 is expected to reach 5-inch from the the current 4.8 screen size of the S3, while it will use Google’s Android software and sport an OLED display, said the officials.
But Samsung has yet to decide whether it will use flexible display technology for the upcoming Galaxy due to production problems encountered by Samsung Display.
Samsung Display officials declined to comment on the new Samsung smartphone project.
``Samsung wants to keep its one-year product schedule and the Galaxy S4 will be the first to match that strategy. The S4 will see some external changes but retain its popular rectangular shape with rounded corner concept,’’ said an official from one of Samsung’s local partners.
Samsung is currently in talks with major American carriers to apply modified phone designs.
Market analysts and experts view the S4 as a ``clear message’’ to Apple. ``Samsung’s edges in manufacturing will further shine after the patent disputes go further on. In markets, Samsung is confident to widen its lead over Apple, though the legal fight is a totally separate issue,’’ said an industry executive who is familiar with the matter.
Samsung expects sales of the S3 to pass 30 million by the end of the year. It has already sold 20 million in just over three months.
The S4 will help Samsung take on Apple in the United States, according to officials. Market research firm IDC shows Samsung has a 30 percent share, globally, while Apple has 16 percent. But NPD’s recent data shows Apple controls 31 percent of the U.S. smartphone market, followed by Samsung on 24 percent.
The S4 plans come amid escalating patent disputes between the two technology giants in 50 different cases on four continents. Apple won a victory last month after a United States jury found the Korean firm copied key features of the iPhone and awarded Apple $1.05 billion in damages.
Last week, the International Trade Commission (ITC) of the United States backed the verdict, ruling Apple didn’t violate patents owned by Samsung Electronics in making the iPod touch, iPhone and iPad.
U.S. Federal Judge Lucy Koh is scheduled to hold a hearing on Dec. 6 to consider Apple’s request for a permanent U.S. sales ban of eight Samsung smartphone models and the firm’s tablet following the jury’s verdict. Seven of the eight smartphones that Apple is seeking to ban are part of the Galaxy line.