New Samsung smartphone to hit shops
Technology giant Samsung is poised to take another bite out of its rival Apple as it prepares to release its most advanced smartphone yet after posting record quarterly profits.
The South Korean company's Galaxy S4 hits the shops on Saturday and the handset is said to pose the greatest threat yet to the iPhone.
Analysts have lavished praise on the device, which is expected to give the firm another boost after it announced its 41% leap in earnings in the first quarter of this year - in the same week that Apple reported its first annual slide in a decade.
According to its latest figures, Samsung made a net profit of 7.15 trillion won (around £4.2 billion) for the period, up from 5.05 trillion won (around £2.9 billion) a year ago, attributed largely to a surge in sales of its smartphones.
Samsung's revenues fell slightly on the previous quarter, down 6% at 52.87 trillion won (around £30.6 billion), though profits were up on the last three months of 2012. Smartphone and mobile communications sales jumped 7% on the last quarter to 32.82 trillion won (£19 billion), accounting for around 75% of the company's profits.
The firm predicted that growth in smartphone sales would stay flat in the coming months amid intensifying competition in the lower and middle sections of the market, before picking up in the second half of the year.
The device, which allows users to control the screen using their eyes, will be available in shops around Britain from 10am on Saturday. It will go on sale an hour earlier at Samsung's brand store at Westfield Stratford City, in east London, weeks after it was unveiled to much fanfare in the United States.
Stuart Miles, of technology and gadget site Pocket-lint, said: "I think sales of the SGS4 will do well tomorrow (Saturday) as customers are keen to get the latest Android flagship and carriers are keen to sell it," he said.
Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at uSwitch.com, said: "Hype surrounding the launch of Samsung's feature-packed S4 has been phenomenal. Only Apple has managed to pull off anything close to such a frenzy in recent memory.
"Don't expect to see early adopters queuing around the block for it though. Even if Samsung had branded stores up and down the country, love for the brand is still a far cry from the cult of Apple, with devoted fans willing to sleep outside to be first to get hold of its gadgets."