The Korean firm's consumer electronics division faced a serious crisis after Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, as the device immediately proved a smash hit with consumers.
Samsung's first smartphone response, the Omnia range, was so poor that some consumers deliberately destroyed their handsets in public protests at the many faults.
However, Samsung Mobile's vice president for design Lee Minhyouk was quietly working on changing the firm's prospects with the Galaxy range.
Since its launch in June 2010, the Galaxy line has sold more than 44 million units worldwide and helped Samsung temporarily unseat Apple at the top of the smartphone tree in the third quarter of last year.
Lee, who at 40 is Samsung's youngest senior executive, admitted that he is no match for Jonathan Ive, the recently-knighted senior designer behind Apple's iPhones, iPads and iMac computers.
However, he is convinced that Samsung will one day make a product with similar global impact as its US technology rival.
"I might not be at [Ive's] level yet, but I believe Samsung will produce such iconic products one day," he said in an interview with the Chicago Tribune.
"It's not just effort that makes it possible for a new product to be a massive hit. It also has to be timely, and technology should be ready to make a certain design a reality."
Samsung and Apple have been locked in patent disputes all over the world, both accusing the other of stealing their technology and design ideas.
Apple started the battle last April by claiming that Samsung had "slavishly" copied the design of iPads and iPhones, but Samsung responded by lodging various lawsuits over Apple's alleged infringement of its patented technology.
Lee said in the interview that he takes personal offence to the suggestion that he may have copied Apple with designs for Galaxy products.
"I've made thousands of sketches and hundreds of prototype products [for the Galaxy]. Does that mean I was putting on a mock show for so long, pretending to be designing?," he said.
"As a designer, there's an issue of dignity. [The Galaxy] is original from the beginning, and I'm the one who made it. It's a totally different product with a different design language and different technology infused."
Lee said that his job as a designer is to "blend new functions and technology with aesthetic beauty, as far as possible". His most recent project was the Galaxy Note, which blends the functions of a mini-tablet and phone, while also allowing users to interact with the screen via a stylus.
The phone-tablet has sold more than two million units since it launched last October, and a version with a larger 10.1-inch screen was announced earlier in the year.
Lee said that the Note was created by breaking the "taboo" that smartphones must be small enough to fit into your hand, and he feels that this innovation will lead the firm to create a truly game-changing device in the future.
"I'm confident that one day Samsung will make a product that defines our time, and I hope it's one of mine," he said.
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