Samsung plans to reveal the Galaxy S9 in February

Samsung Electronics Co. is said to be planning to debut its next flagship smartphone in February, presenting Apple Inc.’s iPhone X with a sooner-than-expected challenger.

The South Korea-based technology giant plans to introduce the new models, the Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9 Plus, as early as late February and release the devices as early as March, according to people familiar with the matter. That schedule would be a month earlier than for the current Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus. The new phones will be similar to the current Galaxy models, but include upgraded camera systems, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans are private.

The debut will be the South Korean company’s first major phone introduction since the Note 8 was released in September. The Galaxy S8 line was introduced this past March. The release plans for the new models are still fluid and could change, the people added. Samsung declined to comment.

The launch will be a significant one for Samsung, potentially serving as a way for the phone maker to continue strong global momentum despite the appeal of the new top-of-the-line iPhone X and a forecast of a dip in market share. Samsung’s new models will present Cupertino, California-based Apple with formidable rivals just months into the iPhone X’s life cycle.

Despite its $999 starting price, the latest iPhone has generated positive reviews and analysts project holiday sales will help Apple produce its first quarter with more than $80 billion in revenue. In the third quarter, before the iPhone X went on sale, Samsung dominated global smartphone shipments with more than 22 percent of the market, according to data from IDC. Apple was second with 13 percent. Strategy Analytics has forecast that Samsung’s global market share will fall to less than 20 percent in 2018, according to multiple news reports.

Samsung is also working on a smart speaker with an audio and home management focus to be released in the first half of next year, Bloomberg News reported Thursday.

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Samsung plans to reveal the Galaxy S9 in February