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Devices/smartphones

Samsung Bets on Hardware

As smartphones have infiltrated the wireless market, new handsets are beginning to look like clones -- differentiating on their software, but copycatting on the actual hardware.

That's not the strategy that Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (Korea: SEC) is pursuing as the No. 2 mobile phone maker looks to nab the No. 1 slot worldwide. Samsung is emphasizing its unique hardware advantages -- owning the display technology and its own processors -- in its upcoming device launches.

Samsung vice president of product planning Nick DiCarlo won't confirm any of Samsung's mobile plans for the US in advance of its Android-oriented press gathering at the end of the month, but he says that hardware remains a "super critical area of innovation and competition" for the smartphone space and for Samsung.

"Samsung is among the best hardware manufacturers in the industry," DiCarlo says. "Because we do make a lot of the ingredients in the display and memory, we can innovate in a lot of unique ways."

According to reports, Samsung is set to announce three successors to its Wave smartphone, namely the Wave 2, Wave 2 Pro, and Omnia Pro 4, at CommunicAsia tomorrow. The devices will all feature super Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) displays, a hardware feature that's become important to Samsung's high-end strategy.

Samsung's upcoming tablet/iPad competitor, the Galaxy Tape, will also feature a seven-inch version of the super AMOLED display in addition to a 1.2GHz ARM A-8-based processor, Android 2.2 Froyo, and 16 Gbytes of storage, according to reports from a Vietnamese site that's also credited with leaking images of the iPhone 4, Macbook, and other devices.

There's been some debate as to whether Samsung's Super AMOLED screens are superior to the iPhone's Retina display, but DiCarlo says it is a case of "seeing is believing."

"Super AMOLED, next-gen displays are brighter, more responsive, have lower-power consumption, and let you watch video in direct sunlight," he says. "It works fantastic in mobile use cases."

Samsung's chip on its shoulder
Although Steve Jobs took credit for it, Samsung also makes its own A4 memory processor, which runs at 1GHz and is built on a 45-nanometer technology. This means that it's more power efficient and can process graphics faster than competing handsets. The processor combined with the AMOLED screen makes Samsung's smartphones ideal for gaming and rich user experiences, DiCarlo says. (See Gadget Watch: How Many EVOs Did Sprint Sell Really?)

Samsung is counting on its hardware ownership to make it competitive, but its selling points are quickly becoming less distinct. Smartphone launches from competing handset makers have been flowing in steadily and capturing consumer attention; especially in the US, Samsung's processor speed advantage may be short-lived.

Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT) co-CEO Sanjay Jha made a stop in Chicago last week to tell industry executives that Moto is on track to launch an Android-based smartphone with a 2GHz processor by the end of the year. That's twice the processing power touted by Samsung or Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM), which powers many smartphones on the market with its 1GHz Snapdragon chip. The handset will be one of 20-plus Android-based devices Moto plans to launch this year. (See Motorola Brings More Droids to VZW .)

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:32:23 PM
re: Samsung Bets on Hardware

Sprint's recently launched HTC Evo shows the importance of good screen technology. Reportedly, it has had issues with the screen detaching and inconsistent touchscreen sensors.

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:32:22 PM
re: Samsung Bets on Hardware

Its really interesting that Samsung has started to really push the mobile processor access of its work. Going to give them a distinct advantage if they can combine this with the LTE modem work they've been doing.

ashuj 12/5/2012 | 4:32:22 PM
re: Samsung Bets on Hardware

Hmm wonder if Mot is building its own processor or whose processor are they planning to use that runs @ 2GHz?

joset01 12/5/2012 | 4:32:19 PM
re: Samsung Bets on Hardware

The timing might suggest a 2GHz Snapdragon, no?

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