Samsung says Galaxy Note8 pre-orders highest among series as Apple gets set to launch latest iPhones

South Koreans try the new Samsung Galaxy Note 8 at the Samsung Electronics headquarters in Seoul, on Sept 12, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (REUTERS) - Samsung Electronicson Tuesday (Sept 12) said pre-orders for its Galaxy Note8 premium smartphone have hit the highest-ever for the Note series, beating its predecessor Note7 over five days by about 2.5 times.

Samsung is banking on the device to protect its market dominance as it competes with Apple's latest iPhones due to be unveiled later on Tuesday. Note8 sales begin in the United States, South Korea and elsewhere on Friday.

Pre-orders reached about 650,000 Note8 handsets over five days from about 40 countries, making the initial response "very encouraging," DJ Koh, president of Samsung Electronics' mobile communications business, said at a media event.

The device succeeds the short-lived Note7, whose battery fires resulted in Samsung pulling the device from the market after just a couple of months at a cost of billions of dollars.

Its reputation tarnished, the world's biggest smartphone maker by market share nevertheless decided to retain the Note brand after a survey showed 85 per cent of 5,000 Galaxy Note users expressed brand loyalty, Koh said.

The Note8's US price of US$930 to US$960, including dialling and data plans, begins an era of premium-priced handsets which analysts expect to be joined by US$1,000-plus iPhones.

Apple is widely expected to unveil a special edition iPhone commemorating 10 years of the handset, equipped with edge-to-edge screen and augmented reality, that will compete with the Note8 for pre-holiday season sales in Western markets.

In China, the Note8 is tasked with reviving fortunes in the world's biggest smartphone market where local handset makers such as Huawei Technologies, Oppo, Vivo and Xiaomi Inc reduced Samsung's market share to 3 per cent in April-June, showed data from Counterpoint Research.

Koh said it will take time to recover in China but expects changes this year such as appointing a new mobile chief, restructuring and focusing on key buyers to be effective.

Koh also said Samsung hopes to showcase a foldable handset next year but that technological hurdles must be overcome before a decision can be made.

"We are digging thoroughly into several issues we must overcome, as we don't want to just make a few, sell a few and be done. We want to hear that Samsung made a very good product."

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