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Samsung devices caught between Apple and Chinese smartphones

Matt Hamblen | Aug. 4, 2015
Samsung faces competition from Apple iPhones on the high end and Chinese smartphones on the low end.

Meanwhile, the low end is where Chinese vendors are putting pressure on all phone makers, even Apple, to make lower-priced smartphones.

"This [low end] threatens Tier 1 vendors like Samsung because in the emerging markets, there's still a significant number of people using features phones," Nguyen said. "Having access to an unknown brand, low-end smartphone is preferable to owning a feature phone, especially if you can't afford a Tier 1, branded smartphone."

Moorhead added, "Both Apple and lower-end phones are big problems for Samsung and they haven't found an answer." In addition to Apple, he said LG is producing better phones, in some ways, than Samsung.


What's coming Aug. 13


Against such a competitive backdrop, Samsung is expected to launch at least three new devices on Aug. 13 in hopes of gaining momentum in the market.

Some experts wonder if the upgraded Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus will really offer buyers much more than incremental improvements to lure new buyers.

As reported, the specifications on both devices are "definitely incremental" improvements, Nguyen said. Samsung seems to be driven to produce such devices less out of consumer need than because of pressure from competitors, he said.

The expected arrival of a round smartwatch, the Samsung Gear A, might sound like a good response to the Android Wear-based Moto 360 from Motorola, but few analysts believe the Tizen OS running on the Gear A will appeal to many users at all.

"Samsung continues to invest time and money into the Tizen effort, yet they arguably have nothing to show for it," Nguyen said. "I challenge you to go ask any average person, not industry people, what Tizen is. Or maybe show the the word and ask them to pronounce it. I think the results will speak for themselves."

The Gear A and the other six smartwatches or smart bands that Samsung introduced "don't really have much of a chance versus the Apple Watch," Moorhead said. "To become successful in watches, Samsung needs to improve their design, user experience and offer a better software choice. Sound familiar? These are still Samsung's challenges against Apple on phones."

Gear A smartwatch

According to several reports, the Gear A will have a 1.56-in. round watch face and a 1.2 GHz Samsung Exynos 3472 2x processor running on the Tizen OS.

It will include a 3G cellular connection and Wi-Fi, as well as 768 MB of RAM, 4GB of storage and a 250 mAh battery.


Galaxy Note 5

The coming Galaxy Note 5 is expected to have a number of similarities with the Note 4, which was introduced last October.


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