[THE INVESTOR] Major smartphones introduced at this year’s Mobile World Congress by Korean strongholds Samsung and LG are set to hit the market on March 9 amid concerns about a slowdown in the smartphone market here.
Samsung Electronics is rolling out its Galaxy S9, while LG Electronics is bringing its V30S ThinQ, both of which were showcased at the MWC in Barcelona.
With LG having pushed back the release of its newest flagship phone, tentatively called the G7, interest has been focused on the sales performance of the Galaxy S9.
At the MWC, DJ Koh, who heads Samsung’s smartphone business, highlighted the improved camera as the defining feature of the S9.
“I would definitely put the camera first among others,” he said. “Then I also want to highlight the stereo sound and preloaded SmartThings platform on both Galaxy S9 and S9+.”
Responses to the S9 were largely similar, with observers mentioning the improved camera with its super slow motion support as the most differentiating point from the Galaxy S8, with no other surprising upgrades.
The lack of a “wow” factor, says industry sources, may lead to slow sales for the S9 over the year.
“The hardware of phones are becoming more durable, and consumers are becoming more wary of switching phones if their current one is still working well,” said an official with a telecom carrier here.
“People who preorder phones are generally early adopters, so the presales are not bad. But we’ll have to wait and see if those numbers keep up.”
Samsung has also remained quiet about its presale numbers for the S9, a departure from last year when the company announced presale numbers as they broke various thresholds. The Galaxy S8’s presales broke 550,000 units in two days, and 1 million units in 11 days when the phone came out last year.
According to analyst Noh Keun-chang at Hyundai Motor Investment & Securities, market estimates conservatively put sales of the Galaxy S9 at 40 million units.
Meanwhile, the LG V30S ThinQ is pushing its new artificial intelligence capabilities for the first half of the year before the new flagship comes out. The new ThinQ allows users to maximize their use of existing functions, such as the camera and search, using voice commands and automatic adjustments, without having to navigate complicated menus.
However, it is unclear whether users will switch over to the new model, as existing V30 users can also receive a software update to use the artificial intelligence functions.
By Won Ho-jung/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)