Besides Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) is the only major smartphone vendor that remains profitable despite fierce competition in the market. BlackBerry (NASDAQ:BBRY) (TO:BB.TO) is still struggling, even as John Chen’s impressive efforts to revive the company. Motorola keeps bleeding money, though it continues to make awesome devices. Sony (NYSE:SNE) is losing billions of dollars every year. HTC will consider itself fortunate if it breaks even. LG Electronics is doing OK.

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What’s Samsung’s response to the Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 6?

Samsung announced two phablets, Galaxy Note 4 and Galaxy Edge earlier this month. But there is no word on when these devices will hit the stores. However, the Korean giant needs something more, maybe Galaxy S6, to reassert itself as the king of Android smartphones. Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have arrived and consumers are loving them. Demand is so strong that Apple was forced to push the delivery date to November.

The new Moto X is exceptional, too. Of course, Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4, expected to be available for sale next month, looks promising. It has impressive features with the “best display ever.” But its fast-moving rivals have made Samsung’s offerings look disjointed and inadequate. Does Samsung have an answer to the iPhone 6 ahead of the crucial holiday season? There is no obvious answer. Note 4 may match up against Apple’s 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus. But phablets from either company are unlikely to be their best-selling devices.

[drizzle]At this point, the most promising Samsung device appears to be the 4.7-inch Galaxy Alpha with metal casing. It may spoil the regular iPhone 6 party. It is one of the most good-looking smartphones Samsung has ever made. But Samsung has compromised on many features of Galaxy Alpha. For instance, its battery is just 65% of Sony Xperia Z3 Compact, which has the same screen size. It lacks microSD expansion and waterproofing of the Galaxy S5. The iPhone 6 can record videos at 240fps, but Galaxy Alpha can’t.

Should Samsung shift its annual upgrade cycle

What’s Samsung’s response to the iPhone 6? Only a series of sharp-tongued ads targeting the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus? The Korean company should do something more substantial, probably a new device sporting the beautifully-crafted design of the Galaxy Alpha and impressive features of Note 4. And yes, the company would be better off shifting its upgrade cycle.

Every year, Samsung introduces its new flagship Galaxy S phones in March, and it goes on sale in April or May. But most smartphones and other electronic goods are sold during November-December holiday shopping season.

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