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Samsung Spawns Galaxy S4, Takes Aim at Apple

Samsung also showed off the phone's S Translator feature, turning the Radio City stage into a would-be Shanghai train station for the demo. Using S Translator, an actor typed a question in English, which the phone then "asked" another actor in Chinese. The S4 then translated the second actor's response from spoken Chinese to written English.

The device can also connect to the Home Sync technology that Samsung launched at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona earlier this year. The tech giant describes Home Sync as a "personal cloud device" containing up to a terabyte of data.

The S4 certainly looks like stiff competition for Apple's iPhone. Apple overtook Samsung in the key U.S. market during the fourth quarter of 2012, according to Strategy Analytics, boosted by the launch of its iPhone 5. For the full year, however, Samsung outsold Apple, selling 53 million phones, compared to the iPhone maker's 43.7 million.

ISI Group's Marshall, however, thinks that there's plenty of room for both companies. "Despite Samsung's success, we believe AAPL is not standing still and our view is unchanged that the [approximately] 2 billion unit cell phone market is large enough for several vendors to flourish," he wrote. "Global smartphone market share in 2013 is likely to remain unchanged with Samsung #1 and AAPL #2, in our view."

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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