plans to unveil its 10th anniversary flagship phone lineup and show a fully functional foldable-screen handset at Feb. 20 events in San Francisco and London, according to people familiar with the matter.
Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker, had in previous years launched its new Galaxy S phones at a Barcelona mobile trade show in late February.
Samsung is preparing a major technical upgrade for the 10th anniversary Galaxy S10 phone lineup, adding bigger screens and more cameras, The Wall Street Journal reported in November. Initially the company will offer the Galaxy S10 in three variants, with the phones hitting shelves in March. A fourth version will feature next-generation 5G network speeds and will be released later in the spring.
Samsung has signaled to partners that the foldable-screen phone could be released in April, though no final decision has been made, according to people familiar with the matter. The device’s name is still being determined, with “Fold” or “Galaxy Fold,” as well as “Galaxy F” as three possibilities, the people said.
A Samsung spokesman declined to comment.
CES is the world’s biggest show-and-tell. Companies bring their quirkiest and most ambitious projects—good, bad or insane. We may never buy any of it, but we go to Vegas to get hints about the future, as WSJ’s David Pierce discovered while wandering the vast convention halls. Photo/Video: Emily Prapuolenis/The Wall Street Journal
The Suwon, South Korea-based firm needs a hit product after suffering a major slide in smartphone sales in 2018. Consumers saw last year’s flagship devices, the Galaxy S9 and Note 9, as incremental upgrades, while Chinese brands, including Huawei Technologies Co., grew in popularity selling similar devices at lower prices.
Samsung’s crush of feature-heavy launches—totaling five premium models by midyear—will serve as a major litmus test for a smartphone industry struggling to cajole consumers into buying the newest and most profitable devices.
Samsung’s smartphone shipments declined 13% from a year earlier for the three months ended Sept. 30, according to research firm Strategy Analytics, a more severe drop than the industrywide slide of 8%.
One reason Samsung moved up the launch date this year was due to Huawei’s plans to introduce a competing foldable-screen device at the same Barcelona event, according to people familiar with the matter. The trade show is being held Feb. 25-28 this year.
Huawei has become an increasingly serious contender in the smartphone industry. Last year, Huawei leapfrogged
to become the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor by shipments. Apple, meanwhile, made a surprise cut to its revenue forecast last week citing soft sales in China.
Samsung unveiled a prototype of the foldable-screen device at a November event in San Francisco, saying it would be ready for mass production in the coming months. But as the final design wasn’t finished, Samsung showed the prototype with the lights dimmed.
Samsung privately showed the foldable-screen device to business partners this week at the CES tech show in Las Vegas, one of the people said.
On Tuesday, Samsung gave surprisingly downbeat earnings guidance, expecting operating profits to decline 29% during the final three months of 2018. The company pointed to intensifying smartphone competition as one of the reasons.
—Dan Strumpf in Hong Kong contributed to this article.
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