Samsung May Launch Flagship Phone Early to Grab Huawei Share: Sources

Samsung May Launch Flagship Phone Early to Grab Huawei Share: Sources
People walk past the logo of Samsung Electronics at the company's Seocho building in Seoul, South Korea, on July 30, 2020. (Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images)

Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. may launch its flagship Galaxy S smartphones more than a month earlier than expected in a bid to grab market share from Huawei and fend off competition from Apple Inc., three sources familiar with the matter said.

Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. once challenged Samsung’s top position in the global smartphone market, but the Chinese rival is in survival mode as U.S. restrictions choke off its supplies of chips used in smartphones and telecom equipment.

South Korean chip industry officials hope Joe Biden’s presidency will ease some of those restrictions, although they are far from certain as they also expect the incoming U.S. administration to maintain a tough stance on China.

Samsung is preparing to launch its new Galaxy S21 as early as late January 2021, whereas it previously launched its flagship S20 phone in early March, the sources said, asking not to be identified because the plan isn’t public.

Samsung Electronics declined to comment.

The South Korean company shipped 59 percent fewer Galaxy S20 5G series handsets in the United States in the second quarter compared to the previous model’s performance a year earlier, according to research firm Canalys. In contrast, Apple shipped 15 percent more of its flagship iPhone 11 than last year’s best-seller, the iPhone XR.

Samsung, which lost its No. 1 position to Huawei in the second quarter, regained the crown in the third thanks in part to the U.S. restrictions on Huawei.

A person at one major supplier of smartphone chips said Huawei’s stockpiles were expected to run out some time early next year.

Samsung, however, faces intensifying competition from Chinese rivals such as Xiaomi and Oppo, which are expected to take advantage of Huawei’s struggle to retain market share.

Apple also launched its iPhone series in October, about a month later than usual, stepping up competition.

By Hyunjoo Jin and Heekyong Yang