Samsung has not yet announced the release date of its highly anticipated Galaxy S7 smartphone, but a major telecommunications company may have provided the public with the previously secret information.

According to a report and picture published by Slashgear, a photo taken of an internal presentation given by China Mobile (by some measures the world's largest telecommunications company, with well over 800 million customers) included an image of a slide showing the Galaxy S7 scheduled to go on sale in February 2016--less than one year after the S6 hit the market.

The leak of the release date for the Galaxy S7 is significant; telecommunications providers have been making efforts to get people to upgrade to the S6 (Verizon, for example, announced a new promotion just days ago that would give people the 64GB model at the normal cost of the 32GB model), and an announcement that a newer model may be available in less than two months may deter upgraders. It may also potentially irritate folks who bought new S6s for Christmas or during Black Friday promotions, and have now entered into two-year contracts or rental agreements for devices about to become "older models."

Furthermore, some loyal Samsung customers who have emerged from two-year contracts in the past year have avoided upgrading to the S6 series because it lacks support for expandable memory (it does not accept Micro-SD cards, as prior generations of Galaxy S phones did); the arrival of the S7 in short term may grant these people further incentive to wait to see if that long-time differentiator from the iPhone will be restored, as has been rumored.

There have been many other rumors about the S7--in terms of its technical specifications, in how many variants it will be marketed, and the like. But the leak from China Mobile is the first leak of its sort allegedly coming directly from a major carrier, and, unless it was somehow planted to cause confusion (which is unlikely), it would seem to be reliable information.

Samsung's releasing a new model of one of its flagship offerings after less than a year may indicate an attempt to create or maintain (depending upon whom you ask) a perceived technological lead over the iPhone. Perhaps Samsung wanted its rumored 3-D-touch feature to hit the market as soon as possible. Of course there could have been other reasons to get to market quickly; the entrance into the market and increasing popularity of various significantly-less-expensive but still technologically powerful and feature-rich phones such as those from OnePlus is unlikely to have gone unnoticed.

Here is the image published by Slashgear:Image of presentation by China Mobile showing Samsung Galaxy S7 release date as it appears on ShashGear.