Samsung Electronics Co. (005930) unveiled a Galaxy S5 smartphone with a fingerprint reader and bigger screen than the current model as Asia’s biggest technology company tries to keep high-end consumers from Apple Inc.’s iPhones.
The water-resistant phone will go on sale April 11 with features including a longer-lasting battery than the S4, according to Min Cho, marketing director at Samsung’s mobile unit. The device, shown at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, uses Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Android software and has a download booster for fourth-generation networks and Wi-Fi.
Demand for high-end Galaxy devices was curbed by the release of new iPhones in September, squeezing sales in the most profitable segment of the market and contributing to Samsung’s slowest earnings growth since 2011. The company announced its first wearable devices using Tizen software and plans more smartphones this year to fend off Apple and Chinese producers packing advanced features into inexpensive models.
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“I don’t think the new S5 smartphone itself will be a major game changer,” said Oh Sang Woo, a Seoul-based analyst at Leading Investment & Securities Co. “Still, it is expected to sell about 50 to 60 million units a year so it will contribute big to Samsung’s earnings.”
Shares of Samsung rose 0.5 percent to 1,334,000 won as of the close of trade in Seoul. The stock has dropped 13 percent in the past 12 months, wiping out about $27 billion of market value.
The back of the Galaxy S5 has a leather feel, and the device will ship in black, white, blue or gold, the Suwon, South Korea-based company said. The smartphone is designed to withstand 30 minutes at the bottom of a meter-deep (3-foot) pond, Samsung said.
The main camera will have a resolution of 16 megapixels, compared with 13 megapixels on the S4 model, and the battery will last 20 percent longer than its predecessor, Samsung said.
The 5.1-inch display is full high definition on an active-matrix organic light-emitting diode, or AMOLED, screen.
“There were some improvements, such as the water-proof function, and it was good to see that Samsung released a number of wearable products to show that it’s really serious about this market,” said Leading Investments’s Oh.
The iPhone 5s, which went on sale in markets including China, Japan and the U.S. on Sept. 20, has fingerprint-reading technology.
Samsung used a more low-key approach in unveiling the Galaxy S5, sharing the spotlight with carriers and producers including Sony Corp., Huawei Technologies Co. and HTC Corp. (2498) at Mobile World Congress. The S4 debuted at an exclusive gala at New York’s Radio City Music Hall last March, yet fell short of its predecessor’s shipments as the high-end market became more saturated.
Samsung shipped 63.5 million units of the 5-inch S4, according to the median of three analyst estimates. The 4.8-inch S3 shipped about 65.6 million units, according to analysts.
Apple sold 51 million iPhones in the December quarter alone, and last month began selling the devices through China Mobile Ltd., the world’s largest carrier with 772 million subscribers.
Samsung is the top smartphone vendor in China with 19 percent of the market in the fourth quarter, researcher Canalys said Feb. 20. The company is seeking to use the S5 to maintain that position against domestic producers including Lenovo Group Ltd. and Xiaomi Corp., which have 12 percent and 7 percent of the market, respectively.
Samsung last month posted a 5.4 percent rise in fourth-quarter net income to 7.22 trillion won ($6.7 billion), its slowest profit growth since 2011.
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