FILE PHOTO: People wears masks in front a Samsung Store at a main shopping area as the country is hit by an outbreak of the new coronavirus in downtown Shanghai, China February 21, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo
SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) unveiled its latest Galaxy Note smartphone on Wednesday hoping to regain ground against rivals Huawei [HWT.UL] and Apple (AAPL.O) as the smartphone market begins to recover from its COVID-19 slump.
Samsung launched its previous premium model, S20, in February at the start of the pandemic but since then it has ceded its top ranking in the smartphone market to China’s Huawei, as people opt for cheaper models in straitened times.
The new Note 20 boasts a larger screen at 6.7 inches (17 cm), 5G connectivity, enhanced writing features with its S-Pen stylus, and access to more than 100 console and PC games via a tie-up with Microsoft’s (MSFT.O) Xbox cloud service.
It will go on sale from Aug. 21 in about 70 countries including the United States, where the basic version will retail for $999, compared to the predecessor’s $949.
“It is an uncertain time to launch a new premium device given the challenging competitive and economic environments,” said Paolo Pescatore, an analyst at PP Foresight Tech, adding that the “eye-watering price” could deter some buyers.
Apple fans are unlikely to jump ship to the new Samsung model as the 5G iPhone is likely to be launched later this year, analysts say.
Samsung posted a 29% on-year drop in shipments in the June quarter, the biggest fall among top vendors, according to researcher IDC. Apple, which launched the budget-friendly SE during the period, remained resilient with 11% on-year shipment growth, while Huawei posted only a 5% fall.
The global smartphone market shrank about 16% on-year in the April-June quarter due to COVID-19 lockdowns and consumer caution, a larger contraction than in the first quarter, and is expected to improve only slightly in the second half, IDC said.
“Its not until H1 2021 that most countries around the globe will start showing positive growth in smartphone shipments,” said Nabila Popal, research director at data provider IDC.
Reporting by Joyce Lee; Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin and Douglas Busvine; Editing by Stephen Coates