Samsung reveals Galaxy Note 8 but holds back on price

The Galaxy Note 8 will become available in the second quarter, but pricing was not available

Samsung has introduced the Galaxy Note 8 tablet with an 8-inch display, adding a new screen size to its expanding lineup of Note products.

The tablet is 25 percent lighter thinner than the company's Galaxy Tab 2 tablets, said Shoneel Kolhatkar, director of product planning at Samsung. It can display images at 1280-by-800 pixel resolution, and comes with optional 3G connectivity for making calls and using mobile broadband networks. It will connect to HSPA+ networks.

The tablet runs Google's Android 4.1 operating system, known as Jellybean, and has a 1.6GHz quad-core processor. The chip is based on ARM's Cortex A9 processor design, as opposed to the newer Cortex-A15 design used in Samsung's Chromebook and Google's Nexus 10 tablet, which is also made by Samsung.

The Note 8 will be available in the second quarter in North America, Europe, South Korea, the Middle East, Africa, China, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and some other regions. Pricing will be revealed at a later date, Samsung said.

The device was announced before the start of the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona next week. Samsung is expected to discuss its tablet and smartphone strategy further at the show, including its plans for the enterprise.

The company will announce more tablets this year, said Nanda Ramachandran, vice president and general manager.

"2013 is the year of tablets for Samsung," he said.

Samsung was the world's second largest tablet vendor behind Apple in the fourth quarter last year, according to IDC. Worldwide shipments soared for the company, growing by 263 percent year-over-year to reach 7.9 million, giving it a 15.1 percent market share. Samsung is the world's largest Android tablet vendor, but is still way behind Apple, which holds 43.6 percent of the market.

Samsung already has a Galaxy Note tablet with a 10.1-inch screen and also offers the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note II, which has been dubbed a "phablet" for laying midway between a phone and a tablet. Samsung also sells Galaxy Tab 2 tablets with 7-inch and 10.1-inch screens, and an older Galaxy Tab with a 7.7-inch screen.

Screen sizes are an increasingly important consideration for tablet makers. As a companion to the 9.7-inch iPad, Apple last year introduced the iPad Mini with a 7.85-inch screen. Demand for the iPad Mini has been strong, with supplies outstripping than demand.

The Note 8 tablet has features found in Galaxy Note products including the S-Pen stylus to take handwritten notes. The S-Pen's capabilities have been expanded to work with other applications. For instance, Kolhatkar showed the tablet's ability to combine a handwritten note with mapping. He used the S-Pen to write to a friend, telling him to meet him at a Starbucks in New York, linked the note to a Google map page showing the location, and sent the note over email.

The Note 8 will also be able to beam movies directly to a Samsung Smart TV through the AllShare feature, much like existing Galaxy smartphones and tablets. It will also function as a remote control for a wide range of TVs, Blu ray players and set-top boxes.

Other features include a 5-megapixel rear camera and 1.3-megapixel front camera. The device will come with 16GB or 32GB of storage, expandable to 64GB through an SD card slot. It has 2GB of built-in memory.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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