Samsung challenges Apple with new smartphone

South Korea's Samsung Electronics on Thursday showcased an updated version of its Galaxy S smartphone designed to compete against rivals such as Apple amid a legal battle with the US giant.

The world's second-largest mobile phone maker aims to sell at least 10 million Galaxy S2 smartphones after its international debut in early May, said Shin Jong-Kyun, president of the mobile business unit.

"We expect the sales to be as good as Galaxy S," Shin told reporters. The original model has sold 14 million units worldwide since July 2010.

The new phone is slimmer, faster and consumes less energy, Shin said.

It will be sold by more than 140 vendors in some 120 countries from early May, and by all three wireless network operators in South Korea from Thursday.

Despite the updated features, Samsung has cut the price of the S2 in South Korea in apparent recognition of the intensifying competition.

It will cost a maximum 847,000 won ($786) through domestic mobile operators, about 100,000 won less than the Galaxy S.

Shin said the firm would also unveil the new version of its Galaxy Tab tablet computer in July, predicting its overall tablet computer sales would be five times bigger this year than in 2010.

The Suwon-based firm is embroiled in a legal battle with Apple, which in a US lawsuit has accused Samsung of "slavishly" copying the design and technologies of its market-leading iPhone and iPad.

Samsung denied the accusation and days later filed lawsuits against Apple in South Korea, Japan and Germany alleging 10 patent infringements.

Shin vowed to "respond resolutely" to Apple's charges and said the company would "deal with the matter more actively".

"Apple not only is our competitor in mobile phone sales but also our client in device component sales," he said.

"We will respond resolutely not only to safeguard our pride and status... but also to protect our customers and business partners."

Apple was Samsung's second-largest client in 2010 after Japan's Sony Corp., accounting for four percent of the South Korean firm's 155 trillion won ($142 billion) annual revenue.

SK Telecom and KT, respectively the number one and two wireless operators in South Korea, said Thursday they will start selling Apple's iPad2 on Friday.

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