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12/10/2013
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Samsung's Curved Smartphone Falls Flat

Samsung has sold 10 million Note 3 smartphones over the last two months, but its curved Galaxy Round isn't seeing much uptake.

Samsung's New Gadgets: Visual Tour
Samsung's New Gadgets: Visual Tour
(click image for larger view)

Sales of the Samsung Galaxy Round, the company's first smartphone with a curved screen, appear to be off to a slow start. The device is available only in Samsung's home country of South Korea, but it is already being discounted, less than two months after going on sale.

SK Telecom is the only carrier selling the Galaxy Round, and it has recently offered a promotion on the phone. The device sells for 1,089,000 won, or about $1,036. SK Telecom is discounting the phone between 100,000 won and 150,000 won ($95 to $142) when purchased with the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch. The smartwatch costs 396,000 won, or approximately $377. While the Galaxy Round is available only in Korea, the Gear smartwatch is sold worldwide. Samsung hasn't announced plans to offer the Round outside of Korea, and may have second thoughts given the phone's poor start.

Samsung Galaxy Round
Samsung Galaxy Round

The Galaxy Round features a 5.7-inch full HD AMOLED display made from flexible materials that are formed into a curved shape. The screen is curved along the vertical axis. According to Samsung, the screen's shape allows it to curve the entire device, which offers a comfortable hand grip feeling to the user. Aside from the shape, the Galaxy Round is nearly identical to the Galaxy Note 3.

In stark contrast with the Round, the Note 3 has been a smashing success for Samsung. The company has sold more than 10 million of the large-screen smartphones in the two months it has been on sale. The adoption rate of the Note 3 has been twice that of last year's Note II, which took four months to reach the same sales milestone. Unlike the Round, the Note 3 is available worldwide. In the US, it can be purchased from any of the major network operators for $299 on contract.

Samsung's lack of immediate success with the Galaxy Round casts a shadow over the LG G Flex, another curved phone. LG plans to make the G Flex more widely available than Samsung has with the Round.

[Can Apple succeed with a curved phone? See Apple Explores Curved iPhone Designs.]

The G Flex goes on sale on Hong Kong and Singapore this month and will reach other markets early next year. The G Flex is curved along the horizontal axis, rather than the vertical, and mirrors the features of the LG G2. Perhaps more useful than the curved shape, LG claims the G Flex has a "self-healing" rear cover that can "recover from the daily wear-and-tear scratches and nicks that uncased smartphones are likely to receive." The back surface has some sort of elastic coating that is resistant to damage.

The Galaxy Round and G Flex are the first in a wave of curved smartphones. With the Consumer Electronics Show around the corner, you can bet that more are coming soon.

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Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
12/10/2013 | 4:29:27 PM
What's the point?
I really don't see why "curved" is an attribute to care about in a smartphone.
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