'Apple has Samsung on the ropes like never before,' says Wall Street analyst

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The competition for the lucrative high-end of the smartphone market is a race between two companies: Apple and Samsung, which ship over 36% of smartphones globally, according to an IDC estimate.

The war between the two companies for smartphone buyers has raged for years, but the power balance seems to be shifting in favour of Apple, especially after last year’s Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and the rising anticipation for the next iPhone.

At least, that’s according to Drexel Hamilton analyst Brian White, who said that “Apple has Samsung on the ropes like never before in recent memory” in a research note distributed to clients on Thursday.

While previewing Mobile World Congress, one of the biggest smartphone trade shows, White observes that although Apple never makes announcements at the conference, its presence is felt by its competitors, especially Samsung, which usually launches its most important smartphone model, the Galaxy, at the Barcelona conference.

This year, Samsung is not expected to launch a new phone next week at the show. Instead, it will likely launch new tablets instead. Meanwhile, its vice chairman is sleeping in a jail cell.

At the same time, Apple’s Asian supply chain is raising rumours of a very cool redesigned iPhone, with a better screen, longer battery life, and next-generation 3D selfie sensor.

(Apple was briefly listed as a exhibitor at Mobile World Congress last fall, and employees will attend the conference and the company will have meeting space, but it’s not going to announce anything.)

White writes:

Although Apple does not officially attend Mobile World Congress, the company’s presence is always felt and competitors launch a host of new mobile devices. Although leading smartphone vendors such as Huawei, Lenovo, LG, Oppo, Sony, ZTE and others are anticipated to unveil new smartphones, we expect Samsung to divert from its modus operandi. In past years, Samsung hosted its traditional UNPACKED event at Mobile World Congress that included the unveiling of its latest iteration of its flagship Galaxy “S” smartphone (e.g., last year was the Galaxy S7/S7 Edge); however, the company is not holding an UNPACKED event this year but rather a more toned down press conference (2/26) that is expected to focus on a new tablet. Given the Note 7 debacle, last week’s arrest of Samsung’s heir apparent (Lee Jae-yong; Vice Chairman) and an non-traditional Mobile World Congress for Samsung, combined with the iPhone “X” expected to be unveiled this fall, we believe Apple has Samsung on the ropes like never before in recent memory.

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