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Images reported to be ‘Samsung Galaxy S4’ ‘leak’ ahead of critical launch

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Samsung is set to launch a new Galaxy smartphone this week, an expected successor to the Korean firm’s global hit, the Galaxy S III. Most expect the new device will be called the Galaxy S IV, or S4, something Samsung itself hinted at with the invitation tagline: “Ready 4 the show -- come and meet the next Galaxy.”

TechCrunch reported Monday on some supposedly leaked images of the new phone posted to a Chinese forum that show a phone very similar to the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note. The screen on these devices have a very thin bezel around the edge, which the news site noted could mean that Samsung has enlarged the screen without adding too much heft to the phone itself. It also noted that the images themselves could be of a different device or even clever fakes — always a good thing to remember when dealing with gadget rumors.

Hype for the smartphone — the company’s biggest iPhone rival — is higher than ever, meaning that Samsung is under a lot of pressure to wow its fans with something more than an incremental update to its previous models.

The rumor mill has been busy with thoughts about what the next phone will be like, with most speculating that it will have a larger screen, faster processor and same plastic body as previous models of the Galaxy S line and, according to a report from the New York Times, software that allows the phone to scroll through a screen by tracking your eye movements. Some analysts even say there’s an outside chance that the company will show off the flexible screen technology it debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show — in the demonstration, a screen wrapped around the edges of the phone — though most consider it a long shot.

Samsung is sitting pretty in the smartphone market right now as its global leader. The company also finished last year on top of the market in China for the first time, according to a report citing Strategy Analytics data from Korea’s Yonhap Daily News. That’s in line with other analyst reports, including one released in January from International Data Corporation that estimated Samsung had 29 percent of the smartphone market to Apple’s 21.8 percent in the fourth quarter of the year.

China is a crucially important market for all smartphone makers, given its potential for growth. Samsung has made no secret of its plans to market a wide range of phones at multiple price points in China in order to gain a strong foothold there.

In China, however, the company faces competition not only from Apple, but also from Chinese smartphone makers such as ZTE, Huawei and Lenovo, which specialize in offering low-cost handsets — and also are developing their own smartphones aimed at the higher end of the market.

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