LAS VEGAS – South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. said on Wednesday it will sell the slimmest cell phone in the United States, aiming to compete with U.S. market leader Motorola's (MOT) popular Razr line.
Equipped with a color screen for playing videos and an external memory slot, the silver, candy-bar-shaped t509 phone is 9.8 millimeters thick, which makes it thinner than the 11.5-millimeter Slvr, a sibling of the clamshell Razr.
Samsung will unveil the new phone and other models at the annual CTIA Wireless show in Las Vegas this week in a bid to boost its market share in the United States, where it competes with Nokia (NOK) and LG Electronics for second place, according to the Gartner research group.
The South Korean company, which ranks third behind Nokia and Motorola Inc. in the global handset market, hopes to cash in on the popularity of slim phones following the hit Razr.
"I don't know of anybody else that's doing anything this slim this year," said Peter Skarzynski, a senior vice president for Samsung.
The new phone, which is too thin to squeeze in components for photo-taking found in most advanced cell phones, will hit store shelves in the second quarter, along with the d807, another skinny phone with a sliding lid, Samsung said.
Skarzynski would not say which U.S. cellular service providers would carry the phones.
At Las Vegas, Samsung will also unveil the first cell phone in the United States based on HSDPA, a network technology with fast data speeds suitable for delivering video and music to mobiles.
The phone, the zx20, will likely work on Cingular Wireless, owned by AT&T Inc. (T) and BellSouth Corp (BLS), as it is the only U.S. operator using HSDPA technology.
Samsung hopes to win over some consumers by offering e-mail on another cell phone, the t719, which operates software based on Research In Motion Ltd.'s (RIMM) popular Blackberry.
The t719 will use a keypad similar to standard cell phones, unlike Blackberry's miniature computer-like QWERTY keyboard system.
"You will probably find two types of users: heavy users who like the full QWERTY and others who like a smaller phone with Blackberry capabilities," the Samsung executive said.
Samsung also is unveiling the t709, which it says can transfer a call from a cellular network to a home Wi-Fi network without interrupting the conversation.
Cingular and Sprint Nextel Corp (S), have long talked about using short-range wireless networks, such as Wi-Fi, to improve mobile reception indoors, where cellular signals sometimes fade.
Samsung expects these new phones to cost consumers between $99 and $250, but noted that retail prices are set by service providers, which often subsidize phones in return for lengthy service contracts.