Samsung Galaxy S II May Be Challenged by ICS, iPhone 5

Samsung carrier partners AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile will sell their Galaxy S II models later this month. Did the phone maker wait too long versus iPhone 5 and Ice Cream Sandwich?

August sure was a quiet month for smartphones, particularly for those based on Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system.

Beyond carrier preannouncements of forthcoming phones, a moratorium was practically put on the month, with Hurricane Irene perhaps the biggest event to mark (or mar, if you prefer) the mobile sector, with carrier outages up and down the East Coast.

Samsung broke the quiet Aug. 31 with the introduction of its Galaxy S II handsets in New York City. AT&T (NYSE:T), Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile are all offering their own takes on the ultra-thin, ultra-light handsets, which are equipped with 4.3-inch, Super AMOLED Plus screens, 16GB of onboard memory and a 1.2GHz dual-core processor.

Sprint is launching its Galaxy S II Epic 4G Touch Sept. 16, so the company is making its Galaxy S II a summer launch. AT&T and T-Mobile have yet to commit to launch dates for their versions, which could arrive after Sept. 21, making them fall releases.

To that end, GigaOm raised a fair question: Did Samsung wait too long to launch the S II? As writer Kevin Tofel noted: "I have little doubt that it will continue to sell well in the U.S., but perhaps not as well as it might have sold if it were launched earlier."

The next one to three months are going to offer many solid smartphone choices. Indeed, one of the reasons Verizon reportedly eschewed the Galaxy S II was to focus on the Samsung Droid Prime (or Nexus Prime).

This smartphone will reportedly be the flagship Android 4.0 "Ice Cream Sandwich" handset that blends holographic user interface capabilities and other "Honeycomb" perks.

Verizon is slated to launch its long-delayed Motorola Droid Bionic 4G phone later this month.

Finally, Apple is expected to launch the iPhone 5 in October, which will severely test Galaxy S II sales on AT&T, Verizon and possibly even Sprint this fall.

Droid Bionic, Droid Prime and the iPhone are only three that we know are coming. There could be a lot more on the horizon. Maybe Samsung really did miss out on a full month of Galaxy S II sales.

Analysts shrugged their shoulders at the news. Current Analysis analyst Avi Greengart said there is no launch strategy when it comes to mobile devices these days. "You ship as soon as you can ship," Greengart said.

Gartner analyst Ken Dulaney largely agreed.

"Apple is always a threat, so launching it whenever is not that relevant," Dulaney said. "Android and Samsung must succeed on their own." He added that Samsung won't worry about ICS for Android because the Galaxy S II devices will certainly be upgradable to ICS.

"Samsung launches mostly when the product is ready," Dulaney added.

Now we'll have to wait and see how it sells ahead of the iPhone 5 and against the Droid Prime, Droid Bionic and other high-end handsets that are sure to flood the market this fall.