BlackBerry vs. Samsung: The next smartphone battle

The launch of BlackBerry’s new smartphones in the United States, following its debut in several other countries, will be competing directly with hype for another device from one of the company’s biggest rivals.

Samsung is expected to unveil the latest version of its top-selling Galaxy smartphone series in New York on Thursday, just days before the new BlackBerry Z10 becomes available through wireless carriers AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile.

Smartphone buyers could soon been asking themselves, should I go with the new BlackBerry (TSX:BB) or the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S4?

The clash of the two phones could serve as another challenge for the Waterloo, Ont.-based company, which had hoped an early 2013 launch would ensure the BlackBerry Z10 had breathing space before other new phones hit stores later this year, including an expected new iPhone from Apple.

Though details of the new Samsung phone won’t be revealed until Thursday during an event at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Rumours suggest it will be slightly larger than its earlier version. Another is that it will feature technology that tracks the user’s eye and automatically scrolls through a website at the same pace as the user reading the page.

The Samsung Galaxy S4 is expected to be released sometime later this spring.

On Monday, AT&T Inc. said it would begin presales of the BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen smartphone on Tuesday, leading up to an official release on March 22. The company says the phone will sell for US$199.99 under a two-year contract.

Fellow U.S. carrier T-Mobile said it will carry the BlackBerry device for its business customers as soon as the end of this week, though it did not provide details on the availability for non-business customers.

The keyboard version of the new BlackBerrys still does not have an official release date in any country.

A perceived success in the U.S. smartphone market is seen as crucial for the new BlackBerrys. The U.S. is where Apple’s iPhone is most dominant and where Android smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S3 are gaining traction.

The new BlackBerry device has already been made available in the U.S. by Solavei, a smaller no-contract carrier, for about $1,000.

Anecdotal evidence for the new BlackBerry sales continue to suggest that demand remains strong throughout various regions.

Jefferies analyst Peter Misek published a note on Monday which said the BlackBerry Z10 continues to sell well, with his retail outlet checks showing that it is sold out in many new markets.

“India has been particularly strong,” he wrote.

“And we believe AT&T will heavily support the (new BlackBerrys) with it possibly becoming AT&T’s preferred mobile device management partner across all channels.”

BlackBerry stock gained 12 per cent, or $1.62, to $15.05 in afternoon trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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