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Handheld Devices

Samsung debuts smartphone with curved display, but only for Korea

Breaking away from the flat screens found in so many smartphones, Samsung is releasing its Galaxy Round handset with a curved display.

The new Android phone will only be released in South Korea on Thursday, but is the world's first to use the curved screen technology, Samsung said Wednesday. The Galaxy Round has a slight arch in its design and is built with a 5.7-inch full HD screen.

To take advantage of the phone's curved display, Samsung has included special software features for the way content is shown on the device. For instance, when tilted on its side on a table, the phone's "Roll Effect" will automatically show information like the date and time, without the need to press the power button.

Users can also move through music tracks played on the phone, or access pictures and video content by simply touching or tilting either the phone's right or left side. In addition, Samsung claimed in a blog post the phone's curved frame fits comfortably in the hand.

The price of the phone is 1 million Korean won (US$1015), and the device has high-end specs. It uses a Qualcomm quad-core 2.3GHz processor, and has 3GB of RAM. In the rear is a 13-megapixel camera, and in the front a 2-megapixel camera. For storage, the phone has 32GB in memory, and an additional microSD slot.

The 4G-enabled phone runs Android 4.3. and has a 2800 mAh battery. It weighs 154 grams.

The company has yet to decide whether to sell the phone in other markets, Samsung said in an email.

Samsung, the world's largest smartphone vendor, has been working on flexible screen technology, which could become a new trend in consumer electronics. Earlier this year, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, the company showed off device prototypes with bendable and curved screens.

Competition in the smartphone space is extremely high, but innovation on handset hardware has been limited, with many of the phones offering the same features, said Nicole Peng, an analyst with research firm Canalys. The new curved display from Samsung, however, could help the company better differentiate itself from rivals.

"It's definitely an interesting innovation," she said. "But it's important that Samsung demonstrate actual use cases for it, so the consumer will know how to utilize the screen."

"The cost of the phone could be extremely high, and its very early stage," she added. "So we will have to see whether its a niche technology, or if it can be commercialized into a more affordable mass market device."

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