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Samsung mobile chief stresses large-screen models as mainstream

Samsung Electronics Mobile Communications Business President Koh Dong-jin said the company will work to keep the large-screen smartphone in the mainstream.

The remark, which came with the unveiling of the company's new large-screen Galaxy Note 7, shows the Samsung mobile chief's resolve to push for the Note series as one of the company's growth engines alongside the flagship S series in the global premium handset markets, especially in North America.

"The market for large-screen smartphones is growing 200 percent every year in the United States," Koh said during a press conference in New York, Tuesday. "In the past, some people said large-screen smartphones will not succeed. But now it has become the general trend around the world and we will work to keep that going."

Koh expects that the Note 7 will outsell its predecessor Note 5.

An estimated 26 million S7s and S7 edges have been sold globally since they were introduced in March. The bigger-than-expected popularity of the S7 series has led Samsung Electronics in boosting its profitability in the mobile business. The company said last week that its mobile communications business posted 4.32 trillion won ($3.89 billion) in operating profit in the second quarter, up 56.52 percent from 2.76 trillion won a year ago.

Koh said both product competitiveness and thorough marketing strategies were the driving forces behind the S7 series' achievement.

"I believe the key is meaningful innovation and improvements such as a larger battery, being waterproof and the advanced camera that can produce clear images even in low light," he said. "Our sales and marketing divisions have also taken the extra effort to cover a wider range of business partners and sales channels than before."

Koh also underlined that the company's mobile payment service, Samsung Pay, which recently had its first anniversary, has become one of the contributors to the Galaxy brand's popularity.

"We have launched the service in Korea and in the United States and now in China, Spain, Brazil and Singapore. Especially in Korea, many customers have responded that they will continue to choose Galaxy smartphones for Samsung Pay," he said. "Though the feature has not met with the same enthusiasm in the United States, we will work to change that and expect to boost its popularity in China by cooperating with UnionPay and AliPay."

Citing tough challenges with rising Chinese brands such as Oppo, Koh said the company will continue strengthening sales of budget handsets and localized models.

"It is a fact that our mobile business is still undergoing difficulties to some extent due to the rapid growth of Chinese manufacturers," he said. "But globally, our budget handsets such as the A and J series are selling well. We are also operating an independent product development unit for the Chinese market and introduced the Galaxy C series exclusively in the country. We may need more time in China but will continue to make efforts not to fall behind the Chinese manufacturers in competitiveness."

New technology, design

Koh said the iris scanner, which is incorporated in the Note 7, will be put into more diverse premium and mid-end smartphones in the future. He said the company has adopted the iris scanner not just to give another screen lock option but also to connect it to diverse services such as mobile banking and general system security.

"Though I think that it is unnecessary to put both iris and fingerprint scanners on all our smartphones, we will be able to install the iris recognition technology not only on the flagship models but also on mid-end handsets through continuous cost-saving efforts," he said.

The mobile business president said the company will expand the application of curved-edge screens to its new smartphones.

"Internally, we decided to push for the curved edges as the identity of our Galaxy brand if we can provide a convenient interface and differentiated user experiences," Koh said. "To that end, we have improved the design to offer better grip and usability for the Note 7. We seek to expand the application of curved edges especially for our flagship models as much as possible."

He also said the company needs more third-party developers to boost usability of curved edges, adding that the company has already reached an agreement with Google to cooperate in this sector.

Koh added that he wants to roll out foldable smartphones in the future as they will have a major impact in the device industry.

"We really want to make it in the foldable device sector as it will have a great ripple effect in the industry," he said. "But we need more time to provide meaningful innovations and convenience considering the current status of technology. We need serious changes in software and user experience to build foldable smartphones and this will certainly take time."


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