Apple and Samsung are pouring their resources into new flagship phones, in a heavyweight battle emerging later this year -- but why wait to judge when there are so many rumors flying around?
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The Setup: Samsung's Galaxy S2 and Apple's iPhone 4S were two of the hottest smartphones on the market last holiday season. Analysts hailed the S2 as Apple's chief competitor, and the more than 20 million users who purchased the device agreed. The performance of the S2 left critics and customers alike clamoring over what its successor, the Galaxy S3, is capable of when it launches later this year.
Over at Apple, analysts expect the company's next handset to debut in October with some dramatic changes, after the 4S received just minor upgrades to the iPhone 4.
Analysts expect both the S3 and the iPhone 5, if that's the real name, to represent the cream of the smartphone crop, setting up a second battle royale between Samsung and Apple as the two companies fight for the title of best device on the market. It's going to be a while before either handset is on sale, but building up the hype machine is half the battle. Let's take a look at which side is out to the early lead.
Get ready: Samsung announced it will unveil the Galaxy S3 in London on... wait for it... May 3. Compare this with the Apple rumors about an unveil of the next iPhone. Hmm, maybe June? More like September/October. Samsung:+1,000 points Just two weeks away from the official S3 announcement, the rumors are flying and Samsung ain't denying! Quad-core processor? Duh. 8-megapixel camera? Oh yeah, that's happening, and some rumors claim it'll be even higher. A 4.6-inch display with a resolution that rivals Apple's Retina display on that tiny 3.5-inch iPhone screen? Little birdies everywhere are singing that it's true. Samsung:+1,000 points Comparing the crazy hype around the S3 now to the buzz around the new iPhone isn't entirely fair. The 4S is still selling well and the next-generation is still months out, so let's consider this: The second Samsung announces the S3, the ball will land back in Apple's court and every analyst and prospective customer won't declare the South Korean company the winner of anything until it hears a rebuttal out of the iPhone maker. Respect. Apple:+500 points One thing is certain: Apple's new iPhone will have to be a nice leap over the 4S if it wants to cause a stir the way it normally does. Luckily, all signs point to exactly that. There are rumors of a completely new form factor made of liquidmetal, a bump in screen size and a feature that allows users to read people's minds. Ok, the last one is a lie. But we had you for a second, right? Apple:+500 points
Final Score:Samsung:+1,000 points
The early lead in the battle between the S3 and the next iPhone currently belongs to Samsung's handset. Samsung hasn't released the launch date for the S3 yet, but the decision to announce the handset early next month almost certainly means it will beat the new iPhone to the market. A few months' head start is a big advantage in the smartphone business, especially when the device hitting shelves first will challenge the reigning king.
Samsung's launch of the S3 well before the next-generation iPhone may give the company an advantage when it comes to early sales, but it also presents Apple with an opportunity. The iPhone maker will have a chance to make the S3 appear dated by announcing features in its new device that Samsung will not have the luxury of reacting to until some time next year, giving it an edge during the crucial holiday season.
Apple will likely have legions of passionate fans lined up to buy its next handset, regardless of what Samsung does with the S3. However, Samsung has built a worthy fan base of its own, making the battle for undecided customers more important than ever. It's going to be a heavyweight battle, and the first round is already underway.