Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF) is set to release its newest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S5, at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Monday. The company is looking to revive its profit growth, which slumped for the first time in two years last quarter, with an earlier release of its flagship phone this year. Last year, the company unveiled the Galaxy S4 in March at an exclusive event. Many speculate that Samsung wants to get a head start on Apple (AAPL -0.34%), which is rumored to be planning the release of a new iPhone product this summer.
The Galaxy S5 will feature numerous feature upgrades from its predecessor to further differentiate it from the competition. Investors can capitalize on Samsung's newest features by buying shares in some of the companies that will supply the electronics giant's most popular smartphone: Synaptics (SYNA -2.34%) and InvenSense (INVN).
Last year's Galaxy S4 sold an estimated 63.5 million units. Despite the enormity of the number, it's considered a disappointment for Samsung, which shipped 65.6 Galaxy S3s. The number pales in comparison to Apple's sales, too. Last year, the Cupertino company sold 51 million iPhones in the calendar fourth quarter alone.
The value of the opportunity for Samsung's suppliers doesn't stop at just the flagship model, however. Samsung is notorious for extending features to other models in its Galaxy product line to capture niche markets like smartphone photographers. Last year, Samsung sold nearly one-third of all smartphones.
Both InvenSense and Synaptics can capitalize on Samsung's smartphone portfolio as they expand the revenue per unit with new products.
Synaptics had a spot in the previous-generation Galaxy S4 -- it made the touch controller responsible for "3D Touch." The company has reportedly won the slot again, so the steady revenue stream will continue to fund its operations.
Moreover, Samsung will reportedly feature a fingerprint scanner on the Galaxy S5. Synaptics is the likeliest supplier of the sensor after the company purchased Validity Sensors last year. With Apple buying Authentec in 2012, Synaptics has very few competitors in the fingerprint scanning market.
The introduction of the technology in the iPhone 5s opens the door for Synaptics to capitalize on a growing market for fingerprint sensors on mobile devices. Aside from new technology that Samsung will feature in the S5, the company is also shopping a small area sensor, like the one on the iPhone 5s. Furthermore, the company plans to integrate Validity's technology with its touch controller technology so the entire touchscreen can be used as a fingerprint scanner.
InvenSense missed out on the Galaxy S4 last year, losing the socket to rival STMicroelectronics. The combination gyroscope and accelerometer socket may very likely go to InvenSense this time around. Not only is InvenSense increasing its share of Samsung design wins -- from 30% to 50% in the last two years -- it will also likely supply the optical image stabilization, or OIS, gyroscope for the new flagship device.
Last year's S4 didn't feature OIS, but the follow-on Galaxy S4 Zoom did. On InvenSense's first-quarter earnings call last year, CEO Behrooz Abdi mentioned the company won several new designs of its OIS gyro. Without naming names, the Zoom was likely one of the designs to which he was referring.
The inclusion of an OIS chip in the S5 will drastically expand the market for this growing part of InvenSense's business. Adding the six-axis sensor could drastically boost revenue in calendar 2014. However, the company's reliance on Samsung as a customer is not only risky, but puts pressure on its margins. Last quarter, Samsung accounted for 32% of sales.
Not an Apple supply play, but still pretty good
Winning designs in the Galaxy S5 is not as big of a deal as winning a design for Apple's iPhone. Apple shipped over 150 million iPhones in fiscal 2013, and the company is typically more loyal than Samsung. Still, Samsung may opt to use Synaptics and InvenSense's technology in its other phones. Additionally, the company has a knack for inspiring other Android manufacturers, which may tap both companies for the features they bring to the S5. The Galaxy may ultimately become a jumping off point for these companies' newest technologies.