SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co plans to unveil a smaller version of its popular Galaxy S III flagship smartphone in Europe on Thursday, the head of Samsung's mobile business said, raising competition against Apple Inc's new iPhone.
The model will be in direct competition with the iPhone 5, which was unveiled in early September and boasts a bigger, 4-inch screen than its earlier models.
Samsung's original Galaxy S III, unveiled in late May, has a 4.8-inch screen. Strong sales of the flagship phone helped Samsung post record $7.3 billion operating profit in the July-September quarter.
"We think there's strong demand for 4-inch screen models in Europe," a Samsung spokeswoman cited JK Shin, head of its mobile business, as saying on Wednesday.
There has been market speculation that Samsung would launch a stripped out, cheaper version of the Galaxy S III to win market share in the mid- to low-end smartphone segment.
Samsung said on Wednesday the Galaxy S III Mini would not be an entry-level model.
Samsung is beefing up its product line-up with such products as the latest phone-cum-tablet Galaxy Note and ATIV smartphones that run on Microsoft's new Windows system to compete with Nokia's Lumia series.
Samsung plans to introduce its first ATIV tablet next month and ATIV S smartphone in October or November.
Separately, Yonhap news agency quoted Shin as saying that Samsung did not plan to use its 4G LTE patents to attack its rivals, suggesting it was not considering expanding its legal battle with Apple to 4G technologies.
A Samsung spokesman was not immediately available to confirm those comments.
(Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Robert Birsel)