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Samsung may move up Galaxy S7 launch to January, report says

The move could allow its next flagship to better compete with Apple's iPhone 6S.

Samsung's recently released Galaxy S6 Edge+. Sarah Tew/CNET

Samsung is reportedly moving up the launch of its next flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S7, to January in order to ramp up competition with Apple in the high-end phone market.

Samsung finalized the design for the Galaxy S7 by the end of September and is currently securing the components it will need to enter production, South Korea's Electronic Times reports, citing "many people in [smartphone] parts industries."

Pushing forward the Galaxy S7 could give consumers the option of a new flagship smartphone earlier in the year. It's a strategic move on the part of the South Korean tech titan, who likely hopes the different launch window will give its smartphone a better chance of undercutting sales of the iPhone 6S, which launched last month. The two companies make some of the world's most popular phones and have traditionally faced little competition beyond each other at the top end of the smartphone market.

Samsung, however, is in a tight spot. It faces its first ever drop in annual smartphone shipments, according to a report published by researchers TrendForce last week and in July reported its seventh consecutive decline in profit, although it expects to return to growth in October. The launch of the Galaxy S6 in March failed to revive its fortunes, and as such the company will want to give the Galaxy S7 the best possible chance of success by putting it in consumers' hands sooner rather than later -- and before they grow impatient and buy an iPhone.

Historically Samsung has timed the launch of its top smartphones -- the Galaxy S range and the Galaxy Note series -- to coincide with major global tech conferences, such as Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where it unveiled the Galaxy S6 in March. But this year it bucked the trend by organizing a standalone event in August to launch the Galaxy Note 5, eschewing its usual September spot at the IFA trade show in Berlin.

A change in the schedule could also see a change in overall smartphone strategy from the company, according to the Electronic Times. Rather than launch smartphones across three price categories -- high end, mid-range and low end -- Samsung will add a fourth smartphone tier, which it will call "sub premium" to potentially cater to consumers who want a solid phone, but aren't willing to pay top dollar for one.

Samsung did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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