Korean Market Heats Up for Smartphone Makers

Korea's smartphone market is heating up after Pantech and Sony unveiled their latest strategic smartphones on Thursday, while LG Electronics plans to roll out its newest model later this month.

Samsung also apparently plans to unveil an upgraded version of its Galaxy S5 as early as this month. Things will hit their stride after the middle of this month, when a 45-day sales ban ends on telecoms that offered excessive subsidies to new customers.

◆ Pantech's Vega Iron 2

Pantech on Thursday unveiled the Vega Iron 2, its first smartphone to be released since it once again entered a debt workout program in March. Analysts expect sales of the Vega Iron 2 to determine Pantech's fate.

A key feature of the gadget is its metallic rim. It comes with a 5.3-inch full-HD screen and a 3GB memory, 1.5 times bigger than the Samsung Galaxy S5. The Vega Iron 2 will cost around W800,000, which is between W50,000 to W100,000 cheaper than the Galaxy S5 (US$1=W1,022).

Pantechs Vega Iron 2 (left) and Sonys Experia Z2 Pantech's Vega Iron 2 (left) and Sony's Experia Z2

◆ Sony's Experia Z2

Sony also on Thursday unveiled the Experia Z2. It follows hard on the heels of the Experia Z1 in January, which did not merit a launch event here because foreign smartphone makers have generally fared poorly in Korea.

Even Apple's iPhone commands a paltry single-digit market share here, and Nokia and Motorola pulled out a long time ago.

But Sony now bets on the Experia Z2, which comes with a 20.7 megapixel camera that rivals a digital camera in terms of resolution. It also features a 5.2-inch screen that is slightly larger than the Galaxy S5's.

It costs W799,000, which is around W70,000 cheaper than the Galaxy S5.

◆ Samsung and LG Up Next

Samsung and LG, the No. 1 and 2 players in the domestic market, also plan to roll out new products later this month. LG's G3 will be unveiled on May 28 and features a Quad HD display for the first time among domestic smartphone makers. QHD displays boast double the resolution quality of existing full-HD displays.

LG apparently pushed up the release date to May to keep up with its rivals.

Samsung plans to unveil an upgraded version of its Galaxy S5 later this month. It will likely be equipped with a QHD screen as well.

englishnews@chosun.com / May 09, 2014 12:38 KST