Now that Apple Inc. has launched its iPhone 5 after months of leaks, it's fierce rival Samsung's turn to be hit by leaks about its own upcoming handset, the Galaxy S4.
A report on The Korea Times cited sources who said Korea-based Samsung Electronics plans to unveil its Galaxy S4 at the Mobile World Congress in Spain in February 2013.
"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," it quoted a Samsung official who asked not to be identified.
The official was also quoted in the report as predicting the Galaxy S4 to curb the iPhone 5, which is now compatible with long-term evolution (LTE) networks.
Samsung's timetable came three days after Apple, with which Samsung is locked in a major patent battle, introduced the iPhone 5.
Apple's latest smartphone received mixed responses from industry experts and consumers, and has not quite earned brownie points in terms of innovative features.
The Korea Times report also noted the MObile World Congress at Barcelona is the biggest exhibition in the world for telecom companies.
Samsung's latest Galaxy is expected to be the firm’s most powerful in terms of hardware and software.
The Korea-based company is gaining a bigger share of the smartphone market in Europe.
It had been involved in patent disputes with Apple in Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. A recent ruling in the U.K. said Samsung did not infringe on Apple’s design patents.
Meanwhile, the Korean Times report quoted executives from Samsung’s local parts suppliers as saying the upcoming flagship smartphone will "definitely use" LTE networks.
Also, the Galaxy S4 is expected to have Samsung's own Exynos-branded application processors and quad-core chips.
In contrast, 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 S4's screen size may reach five inches, bigger than the S3's 4.8-inch screen, and will use Google's Android operating system.
But while it will likely have an OLED display, it is still unclear if the S4 will use flexible display technology for the upcoming Galaxy due to production problems encountered by Samsung Display.
"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," the Korea Times quoted an official from one of Samsung’s local partners as saying.
Clear message to Apple
The report quoted market analysts and experts as saying the S4 appears to be 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," it quoted an industry executive familiar with the matter.
It also said Samsung expects the S3's sales to pass 30 million by the end of 2012. At least 20 million of the S3 had been sold in the last three months.
Officials also said the S4 will help Samsung take on Apple in the United States.
The report cited figures from market research firm IDC as showing Samsung has a 30-percent share globally, while Apple has 16 percent.
Another firm, NPD, showed data indicating Apple controls 31 percent of the US smartphone market, followed by Samsung with 24 percent. — TJD, GMA News