Samsung's first 'curved' smartphone hits S. Korea market

Samsung's first 'curved' smartphone hits S. Korea market

SEOUL - Samsung's first smartphone with a curved display screen enter the South Korean market on Thursday, as the electronics giant seeks to maintain its lead in the increasingly saturated market.

Galaxy Round - a 5.7-inch handset with a display that is slightly rounded on both sides - will hit stores in South Korea by Thursday afternoon, said SK Telecom, the country's top wireless operator that carries the device.

Curved screens - said to be lighter and thinner than current display panels - are at a nascent stage in display technology, which is shifting towards flexible panels that are bendable or can even be rolled or folded.

The new phone is priced at about 1.08 million won (S$1,251), Samsung said on Wednesday.

It did not say when the new phone - powered by Google's Android system and which offers a 2.3 GHz quad-core processor - would be available globally.

"The display (of Galaxy Round) is ergonomically shaped to fit the curve of a hand and comfortably embrace an ear and cheek during a phone conversation," SK Telecom said in a statement.

The latest device arrived as global smartphone makers vie for growth in the increasingly saturated market.

Samsung - the world's top maker of smartphones and mobile phones in general - unveiled in January the prototype of a bendable display called "Youm".

Samsung's smaller rival LG said last week it had started mass production of curved display panels for smartphones and is reportedly set to unveil its own curved smartphone this month.

But companies still face a major challenge in making other handset components - such as batteries - that can bend with the rest of the unit.

Curved displays are already commercially available in large-screen televisions offered by companies including Samsung and LG.

The displays are supposed to offer a more immersive viewing experience but are significantly more expensive than standard screens.

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