Samsung reveals new flagship Galaxy smartphone

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NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung Electronics Co.’s latest Galaxy phone will have a high-definition touch screen that’s nearly twice the size of the iPhone, while being thinner and lighter than Apple’s phone.

The Galaxy line has emerged as the biggest competitor to the iPhone. Samsung said the Galaxy S III will go on sale in Europe on May 29 and in the U.S. this summer. The Korean company showed off the phone Thursday at an event in London.

Like previous Galaxy phones, the S III will run Google Inc.’s Android software. The processor, or “brains” of the device, will be upgraded to include four computing cores. The iPhone and most other high-end phones are “dual-core,” but there are some quad-core devices on sale already.

The added computing power will be put to use in the S III’s expanded voice-command features. When the phone screen is off, owners will be able to “wake” it up by saying “Hi, Galaxy.” They can then give further spoken commands. When Apple launched the iPhone 4S last year, it also made advances in voice recognition a central selling point.

Samsung will sell a pad that charges a phone placed on it, with no need to connect a cable. Palm Inc.’s last smartphone had a similar feature when released three years ago, but it never became popular.

Samsung said the phone will go on sale in 145 countries with 296 phone companies, making it the company’s biggest launch so far.

In the U.S., Japan and Korea, the phone will use fourth-generation, or 4G, networks for faster data downloads. Samsung didn’t say which carriers would sell it, but the previous Galaxy model was sold by all four national U.S. wireless carriers: Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile.

Samsung doesn’t release phone shipment figures, but most analysts believe its smartphones outsold Apple and its 35.1 million iPhones in the January-to-March period. Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley believes Apple and Samsung together accounted for virtually all the profits in the phone industry in the first three months of 2012, with three-quarters going to Apple by virtue of its singular focus on the high-priced iPhone.

Samsung and Apple have a complicated relationship. They’re rivals in the smartphone and tablet-computer markets and fight each other in court over patents. But Samsung is one of Apple’s largest suppliers of chips and displays, and Apple is one of Samsung’s largest clients.

The Galaxy series debuted in 2010. The screen size has increased with each version: The Galaxy S had a screen that measured 4 inches diagonally. It was followed by the S II, at 4.3 inches.

The S III screen has a 4.8-inch screen. Meanwhile, the iPhone screen has stayed the same size, at 3.5 inches, but the recent models pack more pixels into the screen, for a sharper display.