Samsung Electronics will unveil two versions of its next flagship Galaxy smartphone in a few weeks, including a model with a display covering three sides, according to a Bloomberg report.
Citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported that both phones will have all-metal bodies, 5.1-inch screens and use Samsung's most advanced chipsets. The model without the side display will have only a regular, front-facing display. Samsung used a side-display that "spilled" apps to the side of the main screen on its high-end 5.6-inch Galaxy Note Edge phablet, which it released last fall.
Samsung is holding an event March 1 at the start of the Mobile World Congress conference in Barcelona, Spain, where it is expected to announce the new phone or phones, which will likely be called the Galaxy S6.
Samsung declined to comment, according to Bloomberg.
Samsung will certainly be hoping that the Galaxy S6 performs better in the market than its predecessor did. According to a November report in the Wall Street Journal, Samsung produced about 20 percent more Galaxy S5 units in 2014 than it did in 2013 for the Galaxy S4, based on a survey of its carrier partners around the world. As a result, when demand fell below expectations, inventory piled up, forcing Samsung to spend more on marketing to sell the units. The report said that Samsung sold 40 percent fewer Galaxy S5 smartphones than expected.
Many professional reviewers and critics knocked the GS5 for not including any new, fancy features, and for its plastic design. Samsung may be trying to ensure the Galaxy S6 sets itself apart in both design and features. The Bloomberg report said that Samsung will use metal frames supplied by BYD Electronic International Co. Samsung's invitation for its March 1 event simply says, "What's Next," and it shows the outline of a mobile device with a somewhat curved screen.
The device unveiling comes as Samsung is feeling pressure in the mobile industry that it hasn't felt in years after rising to become the world's largest smartphone maker by volume. Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) drew even or slightly ahead of Samsung in the fourth quarter thanks to record-setting iPhone sales in the holiday period, according to industry analysts. Chinese rivals Lenovo, Huawei and Xiaomi are also producing higher-end Android phones that are undercutting Samsung's premier devices on price.
"Samsung need a model with new technology to stop the iPhone juggernaut and to distinguish it from others," Lee Sang Hun, a Seoul-based analyst at HI Investment & Securities Co., told Bloomberg. "Although Samsung is continuing to release cheaper models globally to defend its market share, the next S phone is more important because that's where they make money."
As The Verge notes, flexible OLED technology has found its way into recent curved smartphones like the LG Electronics G Flex and Samsung Galaxy Round. Both of those phones turned the screen inward, making concave shapes, The Verge notes, but the next Galaxy phone will reportedly mimic the Note Edge's concept of pushing content to a side display.
Meanwhile, Samsung Display plans to invest around $3.6 billion into making OLED panels. A Samsung Display spokesman told Reuters new production lines would mainly make medium and small-sized OLED displays for gadgets like smartphones and tablets. The investment would be made from 2015 to 2017, he said, without giving further details.
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this The Verge article
- see this Engadget article
- see this Reuters article
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