iPhone Mini, Samsung Galaxy S4 Releases Said To Be In the Works

By Craig Galbraith Comments
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**Editor's Note: Click here for our list of November's hottest selling smartphones to see how Apple and Samsung measured up to the competition, or click here for our complete breakdown of the iPhone 5.**

Look for Samsung to widen its lead over Apple in the global smartphone race this year as the companies duel for first place among handset manufacturers.

Overall, smartphone shipments will continue to grow at a rapid pace – up 27 percent to 875 million in 2013 – but that's slower than the incredible 41 percent increase in 2012, Strategy Analytics told Reuters this week. It's some of the largest markets where growth will slow the most, particularly North America, Western Europe and China, the firm said.

By company, look for Samsung shipments to spike by 35 percent (290 million) and Apple's to rise by 33 percent (180 million). The South Korean company will benefit from "its larger multitier product portfolio," Strategy Analytics' Neil Mawston said, referring to the fact that Apple only offers a few versions of its iconic iPhone, while Samsung has rolled out a large number of different smartphones. The two manufacturers will wind up commanding more than half the market this year, he said.

What devices each company has up its sleeve will be of particular interest this year – as always. Samsung is said to be rolling out the Galaxy S4 – the follow-up to what's turned out to be the company's most popular device ever, the Galaxy S3 – in April. While a Galaxy S4 release is almost a certainty, speculation is swirling about a possible "iPhone Mini." The company debuted a "mini" version of its iPad tablet in September. The iPhone Mini would be a smaller, lower-priced version of the company's popular handset, aimed at emerging markets such as China and India where there are billions of potential customers.

The possibility was raised this week by Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White, who also predicted that the full-sized, next-generation iPhone – the 5S  will be offered in many colors and be released as soon as May. But Mawston doesn't think the iPhone Mini will happen this year.

"We think Apple will have to launch an 'iPhone Mini' at some point over the next three years to address the hundreds of millions of prepaid users worldwide that cannot afford the current iPhone," Mawston told Reuters. A 2014 release date is more likely, he said, saying Apple will then "be forced to discover fresh growth streams."

Follow editor @Craig_Galbraith on Twitter.

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