Samsung Unveils Curved Smartphone in Challenge to Apple

Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) will start selling what it called the world’s first smartphone with a curved display as the largest handset maker adds another device to help win users from Apple Inc. (AAPL)

The 5.7-inch (14 centimeter) Galaxy Round will go on sale starting tomorrow in South Korea and cost 1,089,000 won ($1,010), Samsung said in an e-mailed statement today. The 7.9 millimeter thick device will only be available in the Suwon, South Korea-based company’s home market and comes in brown.

The Round joins the Galaxy Gear smartwatch, the Galaxy Golden smartphone with a clamshell design, the flagship S4 and an upgraded Note among devices introduced this year as Samsung targets products at multiple prices to maintain sales growth. Amid fresh competition from Apple’s latest iPhones, Samsung is expanding handsets into new shapes such as the curved design as it works on technology to produce flexible screens.

“This phone signifies something that is much more important,” said Warren Lau, an analyst at Kim Eng Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong. “In the next 18 months or so, we could see Samsung launching foldable display devices. That is going to be a game changer.”

That could see a 5.5-inch smartphone unfold to an 11-inch display and be part of a brand new market, said Lau.

Source: Samsung Electronics Co.

Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Round is seen in this handout image released to the media on Oct. 9, 2013. Close

Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Round is seen in this handout image released to the media on Oct. 9, 2013.

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Source: Samsung Electronics Co.

Samsung Electronics Co. Galaxy Round is seen in this handout image released to the media on Oct. 9, 2013.

In January, Samsung showed a flexible organic light-emitting diode display that can bend as it plays images and said it has “various mobile application opportunities,” according to a statement at the time. The material is composed of thin plastic instead of glass.

Curved Televisions

The Galaxy Round’s curved display is designed to make the phone screen viewable from different angles and be more comfortable to hold in a user’s hand, Samsung said.

Samsung started selling 55-inch curved televisions using organic light-emitting diodes for about $13,500 in its home market in June.

Last month, Samsung released the Galaxy Gear wristwatch device that can make phone calls, check e-mails and take photos. Cupertino, California-based Apple has a team of designers working on a watch-like device, two people familiar the matter said in February.

The first companies to sell devices that multitask could lock customers into their platform and boost device sales, with researcher Strategy Analytics expecting 500,000 Galaxy Gears to be shipped this year.

Apple Dispute

Samsung shipped about 32 percent of global smartphone deliveries in the second quarter, more than twice its nearest competitor, Apple, according to researcher IDC.

The company announced the new curved phone a day after U.S. President Barack Obama decided not to veto a ban won by Apple in a patent-infringement dispute. The Korean company asked Obama to overturn the ban ordered by the U.S. International Trade Commission on public policy grounds, the same relief the president gave Apple in August from an order barring imports of the iPhone 4S.

The company last week reported record third-quarter operating profit of 10.1 trillion won as an expanded range of mid-priced smartphones captured sales in China and India.

Samsung is also the world’s biggest maker of chips and televisions.

The A7 processor inside Apple’s new iPhone 5s was made by Samsung, according to a teardown of the handset by IFixit.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jungah Lee in Seoul at jlee1361@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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