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Samsung ups ante against Apple with curved screens

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Samsung Electronics on Wednesday announced that it will unveil a handset featuring a curved display in October, upping the ante in the smartphone war as the South Korean electronics giant seeks to differentiate itself in the increasingly competitive market.

This would be the first smartphone with a curved display to go into mass production, according to analysts, a reflection of the company's prowess in pushing ahead with new technologies.

While Samsung did not provide specifications of the phone's hardware, a curved display essentially wraps around the device to cover the left and right edges such that if the phone is placed face down, text messages or stock tickers, for example, could be displayed along a side.

The idea is that the edge of the phone would be unlocked, offering users easy access, while the phone itself would remain password protected, say analysts.

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"This is great news. This is the first step in a game changing technology that will eventually lead to foldable handsets," said Mark Newman, senior analyst for global memory and consumer electronics at Sanford C. Bernstein.

Samsung had shown off a prototype smartphone with a curved screen earlier this year at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas but did not specify a time frame for its launch.

Analysts say Samsung will likely manufacture a limited number of curved display smartphones in order to test the demand for the device.

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"The production of such a device is a testament to Samsung's strength and size because they are able to produce these units and see how they do on the market," said Mykola Golovko, senior analyst for consumer electronics at Euromonitor.

"From a consumer perspective, I don't know how useful it's going to be. But it's a way for Samsung to differentiate their devices," he said.

Picking between Apple and Samsung

Kiranjeet Kaur, senior market analyst at IDC Asia Pacific, expects the device will be part of the company's premium offerings priced somewhere upwards of $700. Samsung's initial models typically have high prices as they target the niche "early adopter" segment of consumers.

She noted that the new phone could be a variant of the Galaxy Note 3 smartphone that was launched in Seoul earlier on Wednesday.

As for what it means for rival Apple, analysts said it highlights Samsung's innovative edge over the iPhone maker.

(Read more: Panned new iPhones still draw die-hards at launch)

"Apple definitely needs to consider its research and development roadmap with regards to innovation in features of devices," said Ajay Sunder, senior director, telecoms, Asia Pacific at Frost & Sullivan.

Samsung, which has blazed a trail with its highly popular lineup of Galaxy smartphones, overtook Apple as the world's most profitable handset vendor in the second quarter, according to Strategy Analytics.

—By CNBC's Ansuya Harjani; Follow her on Twitter: @Ansuya_H

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