Even as it battles Apple in court over patent claims, Samsung is gearing up for combat in the smartphone arena at summer's end.
The recently crowned mobile phone king has announced a major device release this month around the time Apple could be ready to release the next generation iPhone, the device that launched the smartphone revolution. South Korea-based Samsung said the launch will be Aug. 29 in Berlin ahead of the annual IFA consumer electronics show, which begins Aug. 31.
Samsung told Reuters news agency the device was the new Galaxy Note, dubbed a "phablet," or phone-tablet, that has been successful with consumers.
In announcing the launch Samsung is seeking an advantage over Apple, which thrives on mystery and does not disclose launches until shortly beforehand even as rumors swirl. (A product launch is expected on Sept. 12 but could be anything from new iPods to the iPhone or new computers.)
Consumers are still unsure if the new iPhone will come in the late summer or later in the year, as hinted recently by a Verizon Wireless executive.
Apple has upgraded the iPhone every year since 2007. The CDMA version for Verizon, which ended AT&T's exclusive rights to the iPhone, threw off the schedule last year.
Samsung is on a roll in the mobile market with first-quarter results showing that it unseated Nokia as the top handset-maker with its wide range of smartphones based on Google's operating system Android and on feature phones. Apple, however, sells the single most popular device in the iPhone.
The Galaxy Note is no slouch either. The 5.3-inch Super AMOLED touchscreen device is capable of 4G long-term evolution data speed. In March Samsung said it had shipped an average of 1 million per month since its release in September. Its unique S-Pen stylus allows quick note taking or illustrations and a Premium Suite of applications includes custom notebook creation with eight templates; quick creation of sendable notes and cards; the ability to add notes to photos; automatic shape correction for diagrams and more.
Even Bigger Screen
The Note is currently upgradable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) and it is likely the refresh will ship with 4.0. While refreshes inevitably have faster processors and a better camera, there are rumors the Note will also have a slightly bigger screen at 5.5 inches.
What some reviewers described as the difficulty of making phone calls with a device as large as the Note due to its uneasy fit in one hand does not seem to have taken a toll on sales.
Still, despite its solid sales, the Note isn't an iPhone killer, said Neil Shah of Strategy Analytics.
"Samsung Galaxy Note is running at an average of 2 to 3 million unit shipments per quarter and thus won' be a direct iPhone 5 competitor," Shah told us. "However, the premium-priced Note adds vigor to Samsung's broad Galaxy smartphone lineup and boosts the Korean vendor's top and bottom lines."