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Samsung hints at new phone with an extra dimension

Building suspense in the lead up to its bi-annual launch event, Samsung circulated a teaser invite late Monday, hinting at a new, curved screen smartphone.

"I have no doubt that the announcement is alluding to a curved smartphone. It is no secret that Samsung has patents in the area and has experimented with this in the past," said Marc Einstein, senior industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

A curved display essentially wraps around either one or both edges of the device, producing a wider field of view. The idea is that users can independently operate the curved side of the device – which can display text messages or apps, for example – when the main screen turns off.

Not the first

The Korean smartphone giant will hold its launch event on March 1 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

If it is indeed a curved smartphone, it would not be the first Samsung has produced.

In fact, in 2013 the company launched the world's first smartphone with a curved display – the Galaxy Round – in a move to gauge consumer appetite for curved phones. Last September, it unveiled the Samsung Galaxy Note Edge – the curved version of the Galaxy Note 4 phablet.

Photographer | Collection | Getty Images

Game changer?

Curved screens have received a mixed response from industry analysts so far.

"What we've seen so far with curved displays has been interesting, but not a game changer," said Mellissa Chau, senior research manager for IDC Asia/Pacific. There are still questions over what it really adds to the user experience, she said.

Einstein, meanwhile, believes the curved display improves the functionality of the phone as it allows users to select the apps they use most and have them readily available on the curved edge.

Nevertheless, he doesn't think a curved phone will be the answer to Samsung's struggles.

"They lost about 5 percent market share in the smartphone space which is a very big number. It is very hard for them to convert Apple users in developed markets because Apple has a wholes ecosystem of content surrounding it which is very hard to replace without a similar offering," he said.

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"So while you might see some other non-Samsung Android users adopt this phone and it might keep some Samsung users with Samsung, I don't think that this is quite enough," he added.

Losing market share

Since the launch of its larger-screen devices – the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last September - Apple has been challenging Samsung's dominance in the smartphone market, including on its home turf of South Korea.

Samsung's share of global handset shipments fell to 18.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2014, from 24.8 percent in the same period a year earlier, according to Counterpoint Research. Apple's share, meanwhile, rose to 14.8 percent, up from 10.8 percent a year earlier.