SEOUL, Feb. 19 (Korea Bizwire) - Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc. are likely to start domestic sales of their new flagship smartphones in March to meet soaring seasonal demand, heralding a fierce battle to win the hearts and minds of local users, industry sources said Friday.
Industry leader Samsung’s presumed Galaxy S7 and LG’s G5 smartphone, slated to be released at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Sunday, are expected to hit store shelves in South Korea around mid-March, the sources said.
Domestic demand for handsets usually surges in March, when the new semester begins for South Korean schools.
Samsung and LG still will likely decide when to launch sales of their flagships, which will depend on the features and performances of their rivals at the MWC, they said.
LG is scheduled to first unveil the G5 at the world’s biggest tech fair, which is expected to come with an improved design and a second-display feature as introduced in the V10 model last year.
Hours later, Samsung Electronics will introduce the presumed Galaxy S7, which is widely expected to come with improved features, including a pressure-sensitive display, similar to Apple Inc.’s “3D Touch.”
While the companies have been providing glimpses of the devices through various teasers, industry watchers said the narrowed technology gap will induce consumers to focus on the price and the date of release, instead of their different features.
They, however, said consumers will still pay greater attention to which will be the first to adopt the so-called carrier aggregation technology, a method used in networks that improves speed, making a better environment to share photos and videos.
“If the Galaxy S7 and G5 both adopt the technology, the only remaining area of focus is the release date. Local mobile carriers are making negotiations under the table (with Samsung and LG) to sell the devices faster,” an industry source said.
Samsung is also expected to start sales of the Galaxy A3, which was first launched in China and Europe last month, locally in March. The 4.7-inch budget smartphone cost US$100-200.
LG officially confirmed it will release three more smartphones with high-end features next week, each specializing in screen, camera and pen features.
Both companies have been facing falling returns from their mobile businesses due mainly to the rising portion of budget models in their portfolios that have eaten into their profitability, while Chinese rivals also weighed down sales.
Industry watchers added that local users should delay their purchases to March for the best bargain, as the two firms and mobile carriers may provide further discounts depending on each company’s performance.’