Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 5s locked horns with the Samsung’s (SSNLF) Android powerhouse, the Galaxy S4 when it launched on September 20. The former has a smooth user interface, slick looks and Touch ID, while the latter boasts a five-inch full HD touchscreen and more features than a tech geek could shake a NFC-enabled tablet at. The traditional Apple versus Samsung battle has begun again.
The Galaxy S4 sold just under 40 million units in the six months following its release, which is slightly higher than the 33.8 million units sold for the iPhone 5s and 5c combined. To Apple’s credit, though, its two new smartphones launched less than three months ago, on September 20. Moreover, iPhone 5s and 5c made up 76% of Japanese smart phone sales last month, and emerging markets such as China and India have started to show a gradual shift towards the iPhone 5c. With the Chinese smartphone market doubling from 42.3 million to 84.1 million year-over-year in the third quarter of 2013, Apple with its slicker interface is more likely to benefit from the upsurge.
Looking ahead, Apple’s next flagship smartphones to be released in 2014 are rumored to also come in screen sizes of 4.7-5.5 inches, in response to the plethora of 5-inch-plus Android offerings released over the last two years. The Cupertino-based tech giant has already invested about $578 million in a contract with GT Advanced Technologies Inc. (GTAT) to purportedly use sapphire glass for future iPhone screens, making them virtually scratch-resistant.
Samsung, not willing to be left behind in the multi-billion dollar smartphone market, is already working on what it hopes will be an iPhone-killing Galaxy S5, which will have a home-brewed 64-bit Exynos processor, 3 GB of RAM and Google’s latest Android operating system. Both the flagship phones for 2014 will be pretty evenly balanced from a technological standpoint, with large screen sizes, blazing fast processors and durable builds, so the game changer is likely to be innovative features which affect the user experience.
On the surface, it looks like Samsung is a clear winner in this race—the Galaxy Round already sports a flexible screen and Samsung’s smart watches have been released. Apple however is no stranger to innovation and its recent acquisition of PrimeSense, a 3D sensor maker, suggests that the company’s next smartphones will be controllable without physically touching the screen – think a more advanced form of Samsung’s Air Gesture features. With 2013 coming to a close, the battle for the title of smartphone king is just heating up.