Samsung hopes it will have big-selling hits on its hands with its new Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A3 smartphones being launched in China in November as the company begins its recovery from a recent disappointing third-quarter earnings report.
The new ultra-slim handsets were announced by Samsung on Oct. 31 as devices that are "optimized for social networking," as the technology giant aims to capture the imaginations and discretionary dollars of smartphone users who have lots of phones to choose from around the world.
The new Galaxy A5 and A3 handsets are the company's slimmest-ever phones so far, and are being launched first in China, which is the world's largest smartphone market. The phones will arrive in the United States and other world markets later, though no schedules or prices have yet been unveiled, a spokesman told eWEEK.
The new A5 and A3 phones are aimed at younger users and incorporate full metal bodies and quad-core 1.2 GHz processors. The A5 includes a 5-inch Super AMOLED display, 2GB of RAM, a 2,300-mAh battery, a 13MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera, while the A3 (pictured) has a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED display, 1GB of RAM, a 1,900-mAh battery, an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front camera. Both models come with 16GB of internal storage and can be expanded with a 64GB micro SD card. The batteries will not be removable as has been the custom in previous Samsung phones.
"The Galaxy A5 and A3 offer a beautifully crafted full metal unibody, slim design, superior hardware and the best possible social media experience," J.K. Shin, Samsung's CEO and head of the IT and mobile communication business, said in a statement. "These devices make our advanced Galaxy experience even more accessible to young and trend-conscious consumers."
The new A5 and A3 phones are 6.7mm and 6.9mm thin, respectively, and will be available in a wide range of colors, including Pearl White, Midnight Black, Platinum Silver, Soft Pink, Light Blue and Champagne Gold. The phones run on Android 4.4 KitKat and will operate on 3G or 4G networks.
The success of the new phones will be very important for Samsung, which sees increased device sales and a broadened smartphone lineup as the keys to improving its sagging profits, according to an earlier eWEEK report. Samsung was hit hard in its fiscal 2014 third quarter; on Oct. 30, the company posted a 49 percent drop in net profits and a 19 percent sales drop compared with the same period in 2013. The company's net profits fell to $4 billion in the third quarter ending Sept. 30, down from $7.8 billion in the same quarter last year. At the same time, the company's sales plummeted to $45.1 billion from $56 billion.
The company is blaming the disappointing results on a "weak smartphone product mix" that led to decreased sales as well as price reductions on older devices. Samsung said it expects smartphone and tablet demand to increase in the fourth quarter, even though competition in the bustling marketplace is expected to intensify and price wars will continue with more year-end promotions.
In the mobile category alone, Samsung saw third-quarter sales revenue of $22.3 billion for its devices, which was down 34 percent from the $33.9 billion during the same period last year.
To fight back, the company plans to make big changes in its smartphone strategy in 2015. The Galaxy A5 and A3 devices could be the first salvos in that new battle.
Despite its recent sales troubles, the Korean company continues to lead the global industry in both mobile phone and smartphone shipments, with 78.1 million devices and a 23.8 percent market share for the third quarter, compared with 39.3 million devices and a 12 percent market share by its next-closest competitor, Apple, according to new figures released by IDC.
Samsung has dominated the phone market in recent years by offering a variety of devices at a wide range of prices, and by meeting consumers' interest in large displays, while Apple continued to limit the size of its iPhones. That is likely changing since Apple's larger new iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6 smartphones hit the market in September.
In addition, Samsung's sales are also being hit in the lower end of the market, particularly in China, the world's largest smartphone market. There, Lenovo, Xiaomi, Huawei and other local brands have strong followings—and the support of the Chinese government, which owns the wireless carriers.
Again, that's where the new A5 and A3 phones perhaps are seen as tools to mount a comeback of sorts.