Samsung ratchets up its rivalry with Apple

The Associated Press /

NEW YORK — Samsung Electronics Co. on Thursday lifted the wraps on its latest smartphone, the Galaxy S4, in a bid to maintain its leading position in the fast-growing mobile-phone market.

Samsung trumpeted the much-anticipated phone’s arrival Thursday with a touch of Broadway, employing 17 actors to demonstrate the new phone’s features in a series of scripted vignettes.

The S4, which crams a 5-inch screen into a body slightly smaller than the S3’s, will go on sale in the U.S. sometime between the end of April and the end of June. In the U.S., it will be sold by all four national carriers as well as by smaller ones like US Cellular. 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. That’s comparable to Apple’s iPhone 5.

And, all told, Samsung plans to offer it through 327 carriers in 155 countries, giving it a wider reach than the iPhone 5.

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.

Apple’s Phil Schiller declined to discuss what steps Apple will make to compete; for example, enlarging the screen on the next iPhone, which is expected to come later this year. He said Apple remains confident that the iPhone 5 is the most useful and elegant smartphone available, hailing it as “the most beautiful consumer electronics device ever created.” Still, Samsung believes the S4 will set the new standard.

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