Samsung, the most profitable player in the global handset industry other than Apple, has released the latest version of its high-end Galaxy smartphone, hoping to close the gap between its devices and the ever-popular iPhone.
The Galaxy S III, unveiled Thursday, is the latest in a line of Samsung phones running on Google's Android operating system. Like some of its competitors, Samsung likely saves millions by using Android instead of building its own mobile software from scratch.
Samsung's new phone isn't a drastic departure from previous models, although it does improve on older Galaxy smartphones in a number of areas. With a 4.8-inch HD screen, the new Galaxy is slightly larger than its predecessor, with rounded edges and a lightweight, sleek feel. It features an 8-megapixel rear camera and 1.9-megapixel front camera, and can shoot HD video. The phone comes with the latest version of Android, to which Samsung has made a number of modifications. It is also capable of running on 4G networks.
Many of Samsung's software modifications to the Android operating system involve gesture-based actions. For example, when the phone is locked, a user can touch the screen with one finger and rotate the phone 90 degrees to immediately bring up the camera application. When in the text-messaging screen, a user simply has to hold the phone to their ear, and it will dial the number of the person with whom the user was texting.
Samsung has yet to reveal certain key details of the new Galaxy, including exactly how powerful the phone's dual-core processor is. The company has not set a specific Canadian release date or price for the phone, but expects it to be in stores before the end of June. Given that Samsung is one of the major corporate sponsors of the Olympic games in London, the company plans to launch a marketing blitz promoting its new smartphone throughout much of the summer.
Despite competing with dozens of companies making Android-powered handsets, Samsung is by far the most successful Android handset maker, and one of only two companies in the entire handset-manufacturing industry actually generating significant profit from its hardware.
This week, Canaccord Genuity technology analyst Mike Walkley released a report claiming Apple and Samsung now account for 99 per cent of all handset industry profits – Apple with 73 per cent, Samsung with 26. Almost every other handset manufacturer lost money on their devices.
"With the Galaxy III launching later this week, we anticipate the iPhone will lose modest share the next several months and then reclaim large share gains with the iPhone 5 launch," Mr. Wakley wrote.
"Samsung must make the most of a 4-5 month window of opportunity with the Galaxy SIII before Apple changes the game once more with its next generation iPhone," said Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight.
"Supported by an eye-watering marketing spend aligned to Samsung's Olympics sponsorship, this is going to be the biggest non-Apple smartphone launch ever seen."
With a file from Reuters