By Jonathan Davies

Samsung has launched the latest version of its Galaxy Note smartphone ahead of schedule after Apple announced record sales of the iPhone 6.

The Galaxy Note 4 was due to be launched in October, but Samsung said the 'phablet' would be released in South Korea and China this week, and will go on sale in 140 countries around the world by the end of the month.

It is the first time Samsung has released a flagship product in China before other markets. The South Korean manufacturer has come under competitive pressure from cheaper alternatives in China and is keen to get ahead of the game.

It also comes after Apple said it sold 3 million iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus units in 10 days, and the launch in China yet to take place. The two devices are the company's first venture into the large-screen or 'phablet' (a cross between a phone and a tablet) market, a market innovated and dominated by Samsung with the Galaxy Note series.

Lee Don-Joo, head of sales and marketing for Samsung's mobile unit, said: "We are temporarily going through a difficult business situation.

"But...we hope that we would be able to recover soon based on our fundamental capability for technical innovation."

The Galaxy Note 3 reached 10 million sales within two months, but Lee believes the Galaxy Note 4 will outperform it.

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