JK Shin, President and head of IT and Mobile Communication Division, introduces Samsung Electronics Co's latest Galaxy S4 phone during its launch at the Radio City Music Hall in New York March 14, 2013. Credit: Reuters/Adrees Latif

(Reuters) – Samsung's newest, feature-packed Galaxy S4 may put pressure on Apple Inc to accelerate its pace of smartphone design and venture into cheaper devices – both departures from usual practice.

The latest Galaxy, unwrapped with much fanfare in New York on Thursday, out-does the iPhone in most technical aspects. But the challenges it encapsulates run deeper than just a simple specifications comparison.

"It would be overstatement to say Apple is far behind," Charles Golvin, analyst with Forrester, said, but it does need to note the quickening pace of competitive devices being released.

"If anything, what Apple needs to respond to is the cadence of their own releases, probably a completely new design every two years and a sort of speed bump every year is not an adequate cadence for Apple to remain at the forefront of smartphone innovation today."

Samsung's apparent ability to go toe-to-toe with Apple on cutting-edge smartphones may prompt the U.S. titan to finally make its own assault on the lower-end of the market that it has famously stayed away from — not least to get into untapped markets like China and India.

Many analysts now say Apple has to respond in force to Samsung and other rivals that are grabbing attention. Much of Wall Street is now looking ahead to the next iPhone, but expectations are muted.

Once the darling of Wall Street, Apple has in six months seen its shares fall 30 percent from a high of $705. Its Maps software was panned for inaccuracies; its once-reliable financial results, that rarely failed to surpass Wall Street estimates, missed analysts' expectations.

IN A RUT

Apple appears stuck in an iPhone product cycle, with a new phone typically launched in the second half. In past years, the iPhone has gotten a complete redesign only every two years.

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