A couple of seriously powerful Samsung Android phones will hit the market around the same time as the iPhone 5, setting up a challenge for post-Steve Jobs Apple.
If reports are accurate, the match-up will test iOS 5, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system, running on the latest iPhone, against the latest version of Google's Android operating system, 4.0, code-named Ice Cream Sandwich, running on a 4G device by Samsung.
Making things even more interesting, the Korean electronics giant is engaged in a legal battle with Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple over alleged patent infringement by Samsung.
The Samsung DROID Prime has been reported by Boy Genius Report to be the next weapon in the arsenal of Verizon Wireless. BGR says the phone will be ready for prime time in October with an exclusive on the updated Android system. Its sister phone, the 4.3-inch touchscreen, dual-core Galaxy S II, will be available on the other three networks.
The DROID Prime may be the reason Verizon passed on the Galaxy refresh, wary of too many similar, competing devices on its shelves.
It would be the second Samsung DROID device: The Charge was released for Verizon's LTE network in April. No specs on the DROID Prime have emerged, but DROID devices made exclusively for Verizon typically have large touchscreens and faster processors than many rival phones.
Samsung has confirmed that the Galaxy S II will be capable of LTE data speeds. That means it could soon be the first LTE device for AT&T, which promises to have its network available later this year. AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel refused comment on the matter.
A Korean-language version of Samsung's website promises that the phone, a version of which is already available overseas, will be an "LTE 4G market-leading smart device....The world's first LTE/WCDMA/GSM multi-mode support" phone.
The website statement, first reported by Bloomberg News, says the phone will be announced on Friday at the IFA electronics trade fair in Berlin.
ChatON is On
Reuters reports that Samsung also will introduce ChatON, a new instant-messaging service that runs on its bada operating system as well as Android and will be pre-installed on feature and smartphones beginning in October. It also will be available for download for users of iOS and BlackBerry devices, the report said, enabling instant exchanges across a wide range of the mobile Internet.
The iPhone 5, believed to be ready for roll-out in September or October, has been said to include updates that are mostly in the operating system, although it may be slimmer and have a slightly larger screen. Many analysts do not believe that it will be capable of 4G speed.
Will that give rivals an edge?
"The 14-month old iPhone 4 still outsells any individual LTE phone at Verizon Wireless," said analyst Avi Greengart of Current Analysis. "So it's pretty clear that simply having faster network speeds does not trump the iPhone's advantages in apps, content, accessories or user interface."
But that doesn't mean speed doesn't matter.
"As long as battery life isn't overly degraded," Greengart said, "having LTE is a competitive advantage."