NEW YORK — Samsung Electronics is ratcheting up its rivalry with Apple with its new Galaxy S 4 smartphone, which has a larger, sharper screen than its predecessor, the best-selling S III.
Samsung trumpeted the much-anticipated phone's arrival Thursday at an event accompanied by a live orchestra while an audience of thousands watched the theatrics unfold on a four-level stage. Summoning up a touch of Broadway, Samsung employed 17 actors to demonstrate the new phone's features in a series of scripted vignettes.
The Galaxy S 4, which crams a 5-inch screen into a body slightly smaller than the S III's, will go on sale in the U.S. between the end of April and the end of June.
In the U.S., it will be sold by all four national carriers — Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA — as well as by smaller ones US Cellular and Cricket. Samsung plans to offer the Galaxy 4 S through 327 carriers in 155 countries, giving it a wider reach than Apple's iPhone 5.
Samsung didn't say what the phone will cost, but it can be expected to start at $200 with a two-year contract in the U.S. That's comparable to the iPhone 5.
JK Shin, the executive in charge of Samsung's mobile communications division, promised the money would be well-spent for a "life companion" that will "improve the way most people live every day."
That bold promise set the tone for the kind of flashy presentation associated with the showmanship of Apple, the company Samsung has been trying to upstage. Apple contends Samsung has been trying to do it by stealing its ideas — an allegation has triggered bitter courtroom battles around the world.
In the last two years, Samsung has emerged as Apple's main competitor in the high-end smartphone market. At the same time, it has sold enough inexpensive low-end phones to edge out Nokia Corp. as the world's largest maker of phones.