will unveil its next flagship smartphone
on September 9
, according to several major media outlets. The device, which
could come in two varieties, is expected to feature a larger
That makes it a major competitive threat to
's high-end Galaxy handsets. Although Samsung's customers may
have been motivated by a variety of different factors, Samsung's
larger screens have long stood out as a major point of
differentiation (the threat posed by a larger iPhone has
certainly not been lost
on Samsung's marketing department).
Ahead of Apple's iPhone announcement, Samsung is preparing to
respond to the iPhone 6's debut with two new phones of its
Samsung's next phablet
Samsung will start with what could be called the Galaxy Note 4.
The phablet, which will follow last year's Galaxy Note III, is
likely to be unveiled at an event on September 3 -- literally
days before the iPhone 6's announcement.
Although Samsung has not officially confirmed the Galaxy Note
4's existence, the company said during its recent earnings call
that another large-screen handset would be forthcoming. On
Tuesday, Samsung sent out press invites to a September 3 event.
Those invites urge would-be attendees to "note" the date, and
feature artwork resembling Samsung's Note-exclusive stylus
Assuming the Note 4 isn't a dramatic departure from Samsung's
prior models, it will be defined by stylus software and by its
oversized display. In addition to internal improvements, it could
feature some of the enhancements Samsung brought to its Galaxy
S5, including a fingerprint scanner and water resistance.
The Galaxy Note III sports a 5.7-inch display, an increase
from the Note II's 5.5-inch screen. Even if Samsung ships a Note
4 no bigger than its predecessor, it could still be more than an
inch larger than Apple's iPhone 6, which is rumored to have a
4.7-inch display. Apple is also widely believed to be working on
a second, 5.5-inch iPhone, though reports of its existence and
availability have been conflicting.
Samsung's Notes have attracted a progressively larger audience
in recent years, with the Note III selling 10 million units just
two months after its debut (twice as fast as the Note II). Those
who want Samsung's next Note will probably find a 4.7-inch iPhone
too small for their liking -- a 5.5-inch model (assuming it's
released), however, could prove to be intense competition.
A flagship with premium materials
Details surrounding Samsung's second phone are far more scant,
with no press event and no firm release date. Nevertheless,
another Galaxy seems likely, with Samsung's management promising
to release a new, attractive phone that would offer different
materials -- perhaps an aluminum body, a replacement for
Samsung's oft derided bendable plastic frames.
Despite widespread criticism from major tech reviewers,
Samsung has stood by its design, and has continued to offer
plastic Galaxy handsets year after year. But in May, Samsung's
head of mobile design, Dong-hoon Chang, resigned, just weeks
after the debut of the plastic-backed Galaxy S5.
Apple has been using a combination of glass and metal for its
iPhones since the debut of the iPhone 4 in 2010. (The iPhone 5c
was a notable exception, but escaped criticism with its unibody
design and hard plastic shell.) Finally following Apple's lead
could help Samsung deflect its most common complaints, but might
not be enough to spur sales -- rival HTC, despite offering an
attractive, metal-backed flagship phone, has seen steadily
Can Apple poach Samsung's best customers?
Apple's iPhone 6 could shatter records when it goes on sale later
this year. According to
The Wall Street Journal
, Apple has ordered enough components to assemble 70 million-80
million new iPhones by the end of the year.
Many of those customers will likely be existing iPhone users,
but some could be current owners of Samsung's high-end Galaxies.
With its revenue, profits, and market share in decline, Samsung
will need to deliver a pair of impressive handsets to beat back
the iPhone 6.
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