South Korea's Samsung Electronics said it had launched a super-size version of its Galaxy Note smartphone, the latest salvo in its battle with Apple for the multi-billion-dollar handheld market.
The Galaxy Note 10.1, which went on sale on Monday in Germany and the United Arab Emirates, is almost twice as wide as its predecessor and nearly the size of a tablet.
The release comes as Samsung tries to make inroads in the tablet computer market, which is dominated by Apple's iPad. The two technology giants are also engaged in a bitter court battle over patent infringements.
The firm said the new Note would be officially released in the United States on August 15 and sometime next week in Britain and South Korea.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 -- powered by Google's Android software -- features a touchscreen which is 10.1-inches (25.6 centimetres) measured diagonally, considerably wider than the 5.3-inch screen of the previous Note.
Like its predecessor, it comes with a stylus called the "S pen" to write notes or draw on the screen. The new version allows users to split the screen in half to view two programs at once.
The new device is equipped with a quad-core processor that allows users to run multiple applications faster than the previous version, which had a dual-core processor.
"The advanced technology and features included in Galaxy Note 10.1 give users the power to produce, create and customise communications," JK Shin, the chief of Samsung's mobile unit, said in a statement, released on Tuesday.
Samsung -- the world's largest smartphone maker by shipments -- in November introduced the first version of its Galaxy Note, a device positioned between its flagship Galaxy S smartphones and Galaxy Tab tablet computers.
Jeff Kang, an analyst at Daishin Securities, said the new Galaxy Note was apparently aimed at competing with Apple's market-leading iPad.
"The Note 10.1 is practically a new tablet PC that comes with a stylus pen, which the iPad doesn't have," he told AFP.
Midas Kang of Woori Investment and Securities said Samsung has recently tried to expand a range of stylus-equipped mobile devices to compete better against its US rival, which has not released such products.
Samsung and Apple are embroiled in legal battles in 10 countries worldwide over patents for smartphones and tablet computers.
At an ongoing major hearing in San Jose, California, Apple is seeking more than $2.5 billion after accusing the Korean firm of infringing designs and other patents.
Samsung denies this and counter-charges that Apple infringed its patents for wireless communication.
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