Apple on Monday unveiled a new iPhone that goes on sale in scores of countries this year, preparing its fastest-ever global roll-out to try and stay a step ahead of rivals like Google in a red-hot smartphone market.
CEO Steve Jobs showed off a redesigned $199 "iPhone 4" that is a quarter slimmer. The device boasts a higher quality screen and better battery life, video chat via Wi-Fi, and a gyroscope sensor for improved gaming.
The latest phone will be available June 24 in five countries, expanding to 18 by July and 88 by September in the quickest-ever international roll-out for an iPhone.
Despite the iPad’s success in its first two months on the market — more than 2 million sold in 60 days — the iPhone remains Apple's main growth line, and the international market is key.
Some analysts estimate more than two-thirds of iPhone sales are now coming from overseas.
Google's Android operating system — used by many brands from Motorola and HTC to Samsung and Dell — poses the biggest threat, analysts say.
The iPhone's global share surged to more than 15 per cent in the first quarter, making it No 3 in smartphones. Phones based on Android ranked No 4 with close to 10 per cent of the market, Gartner data shows.
Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar noted that investors are likely waiting for Apple to expand its iPhone distribution to U.S. carriers beyond AT&T before getting excited.
Interpret analyst Michael Gartenberg said iPhone 4 will exert pressure on Google and handset-makers.
"It's much more complete, much more adept in terms of the polish and delivery and it's going to force the other competitors to up their game," he said.