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Galaxy S7 Tipped for January 2016 Release

In its battle against Apple, Samsung may be launching yet another flagship phone ahead of schedule. According to a new report, Samsung could debut its upcoming Galaxy S7 as early as January 2016, eschewing the device's typical spring release window.

Citing "many people that are in parts industries," Korean publication Electronic Times claims that the S7 has entered production in preparation of its January launch. Details are light on potential specs, though the S7 is expected to pack a powerful new version of Samsung's Exynos processor. Previous rumors suggest that the new phone might ditch the S6's glass construction for an all-metal design, and may mark the return of a microSD slot.

MORE: Galaxy S7 Rumor Roundup

This wouldn't be the first time a major Samsung flagship launched early. The company's phablet-sized Galaxy Note 5 and Galaxy S6 Edge Plus released in August, getting ahead of both the iPhone 6s' September launch, as well as the typical October release window for bigger Samsung devices. The Galaxy S7's release could have a big impact if it's the very first flagship of 2016, especially if its launch coincides with CES.

Samsung's 2015 smartphones -- the Galaxy S6/S6 Edge, S6 Edge Plus and Galaxy Note 5 -- have all proved very impressive in terms of design and performance, but the Korean phone maker faces stiffer competition than ever from both Apple on the high end and more value-priced Android rivals.

The iPhone 6s marked a big leap forward for smartphones by introducing pressure-sensitive 3D Touch commands, while Google's new $499 Nexus 6P has dethroned the S6 as our favorite overall phone, thanks to its superior battery life and overall value.

Still, given Samsung's recent focus on premium looks and features, the Galaxy S7 should make a splash if it comes out swinging early next year.

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored and was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.