Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) facing threat from the new Samsung Galaxy S4 phone? That is a big debate among analysts now. Gene Munster does not believe the threat is great. Others think the Samsung Galaxy S4 could impact Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 5 sales. Philip Elmer-Dewitt of Fortune has a nice summary on the topic.  Features of the new Samsung Galaxy S4 include a 5” full HD super AMOLED display, 13 megapixel rear camera, 2 megapixel front camera along with some differentiated camera software updates, 16/32/64 GB memory configuration, and NFC – all running on Jelly Bean (Android). Yesterday, Barclays (BCS) attended Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930)’s launch event for the Galaxy S4 in New York. They weigh in on the debate.

Samsung Galaxy S4

The product will be available in two colors at launch – black and white. Pricing is yet to be announced. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930)’s rollout partners include existing carriers in the U.S., with both Sprint Nextel Corporation (NYSE:S) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) announcing availability of the phone simultaneous with the launch. The product will ship in late April.

In terms of competition vs. Apple, the Galaxy S4 seems largely as expected – and there could be some relief for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) (certain versions of LTE won’t be available until later this year).

However, as Barclays has noted recently – they believe that Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930)’s momentum is a major issue for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL). As a result, they ‘need to see’ Apple expand its iPhone market this year in a big way – and improve its platform. However, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) seems rather silent of late – and could be waiting until C3Q to make any competitive response outside of potential adjustments to pricing.

Barclays believes that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is currently making moves that include international expansion, new iPhones and eventually a bigger screened phone in 2014. In mid 2013 they expect the company to introduce both a lower cost (but high quality) iPhone 5 with a plastic case as well as an ‘iPhone 5S’. Even before that launch, they could see further international expansion for the iPhone. Later this summer, they expect the lower end iPhone to be available globally but be more popular in emerging markets.

This product should be priced in the mid tier range – likely at the higher end of the $250-$350 price band. If Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is to rebound in terms of share, they believe that advances to the ecosystem will be the reason – with potential innovations around payments.