Samsung has revealed that it knew nothing of SK Telecom's plans to launch its Galaxy S5 smartphone two weeks ahead of the scheduled April 11 date.
The leading mobile operator in South Korea, SK Telecom began selling the S5 on Thursday apparently without securing prior consent from the smartphone maker. The device is currently available for purchase at a local price tag of 866,800 won (US$809.07), and will be sold at a discounted price of as low as 660,000 won (US$616.05) for SK Telecom's long-term subscribers, reported Yonhap News Agency.
First announced at last month's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, Samsung's flagship device was scheduled to hit stores worldwide on April 11, sporting a 5.1-inch high-definition 1080p display, Snapdragon 800 2.5GHz quad-core processor, and a 16-megapixel camera. Besides the heart rate monitor, the smartphone will also have a fingerprint scanner.
SK Telecom's announcement, however, has baffled Samsung officials.
A spokesperson for the company's mobile business said: "We are extremely puzzled about SK Telecom's launch of the Galaxy S5. Although SK Telecom had asked for permission to start the sales of the model this month, we have consistently neglected the request.
"This is not the time to ask about the legal matters of SK Telecom's unexpected move, but Samsung is now under talks with the mobile carrier to find out the background of the launch," he added.
In its defense, the Korean carrier said it was merely thinking for its customers who were eager to acquire the smartphone. It said it would offer the S5 initially in two colors--black and white--before introducing the blue and gold versions at a later stage.
SK Telecom's move comes ahead of its impending business suspension, which begins April 5, and while its two competitors are serving their own suspension notices.
The country's three mobile operators were instructed to halt all business transactions for up to 45 days each, after the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning determined the telcos had breached regulations limiting the amount of subsidies offered to subscribers.
According to the Yonhap report, SK Telecom must suspend business from April 5 to May 19, while KT's suspension is currently underway spanning from March 13 to April 26. LG Uplus is also serving its suspension notice, which runs from March 13 to April 4 and from April 27 to May 18.
Subscribers will not be allowed to acquire new devices during the suspended dates, although there are exceptions such as when their phones have malfunctioned or are lost, or older than two years.
The Korea Communications Commission will also impose an additional suspension of 7 and 14 days for SK Telecom and LG Uplus, respectively, after the operators have completed the Ministry's directive.