NEW YORK – Samsung Electronics is stepping up its competition with Apple with its new Galaxy S 4 smartphone, which has a larger, sharper screen than its predecessor, the best-selling S III.
Samsung trumpeted the much-anticipated phone’s arrival Thursday at an event accompanied by a live orchestra while an audience of thousands watched the onstage theatrics. The Galaxy S 4, which crams a 5-inch screen into body slightly smaller than the S III’s, will go on sale globally in the April to June period.
In the U.S., it will be sold by all four national carriers — Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA — as well as by smaller ones US Cellular and Cricket.
Samsung didn’t say what the phone will cost, but it can be expected to start at $200 with a two-year contract in the U.S.
JK Shin, the executive in charge of Samsung’s mobile communications division, promised the money would be well spent for a “life companion” that will “improve the way most people live every day.”
That bold promise set the tone for the kind of flashy presentation associated with the showmanship of Apple, the company that Samsung has been trying to upstage. Apple contends Samsung has been trying to do it by stealing its ideas — an allegation that has triggered bitter courtroom battles around the world.
In the last two years, Samsung has emerged as Apple’s main competitor in the high-end smartphone market. At the same time, it has sold enough inexpensive low-end phones to edge out Nokia Corp. as the world’s largest maker of phones.
The Galaxy line has been Samsung’s chief weapon in the smartphone fight, and the company has succeeded in making it a recognizable brand while competitors like Taiwan’s HTC Corp. and Korean rival LG have stumbled.
Samsung has sold 100 million Galaxy S phones since they first came out in 2010. That’s still well below the 268 million iPhones Apple has sold in the same period, but Samsung’s sales rate is catching up.
Research firm Strategy Analytics said the Galaxy S III overtook Apple’s iPhone 4S as the world’s best-selling smartphone for the first time in the third quarter of last year, as Apple fans were holding off for the iPhone 5. The iPhone 5 took back the crown in the fourth quarter.