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Summary:

Samsung kicked off Mobile World Congress with the introduction of a new, larger tablet and an update to its popular Galaxy S handset. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 will run a stock version of Honeycomb, or Android 3.0, while the 4.3-inch Galaxy S II will use Gingerbread.

galaxy-s-ii-featured

The Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona takes place this week and Samsung is wasting no time kicking off the show: the company has introduced a new tablet and smartphone, both of which run on Google’s Android platform. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is a larger version of the 7-inch Tab that Samsung debuted last year while the Galaxy S II is a slightly larger and faster version of Samsung’s popular Galaxy S line of smartphones. Vodafone customers will be the first to see the new Tab when it arrives this spring.

Samsung’s new tablet takes its name from the display size of 10.1-inches and will run Android 3.0, or Honeycomb, the tablet-optimized version of Android that Google officially introduced two weeks ago. A dual-core Nvidia Tegra 2 processor powers the Tab, which offers display resolution of 1280×800 pixels, an 8 megapixel rear camera with auto-focus, 2 megapixel front camera, 1080p playback and recording, support for 21 Mbps HSPA+ networks and storage capacity options of 16- or 32 GB. Based on the official specifications, the Tab will work on AT&T’s network in the U.S., although it’s possible for Samsung to later announce a version for other U.S. carriers.

With the Galaxy S II, Samsung hopes to leverage the success it found with the original Galaxy S line: the company has sold more than 10 million Galaxy S handsets, partially because of the Apple-like approach it took to create one strong model of handset. The S II looks similar to its predecessor, but increases the 480×800 display up to 4.27-inches from 4-inches and is just 8.49 millimeters thin. Unlike the Tab, Samsung will use its own dual-core chip in the S II, but other than that — and the device size, of course — the phone shares many similarities with the Tab: 21 Mbps HSPA+ support, the same front and rear camera setup, 1080p recording and playback. Android 2.3, or Gingerbread, is the platform of the S II, and Samsung has tweaked the interface with an improved TouchWiz 4.0 software.

 

My take on the phone is that Samsung is poised to duplicate its Galaxy S success by making a good phone even better. A larger Super AMOLED Plus display is likely to make this phone pop when consumers view it in stores. And the addition of a dual-core processor should keep the phone snappy. About the only reason this phone isn’t likely to be another home run for Samsung is some consumer trepidation when it comes to software updates. While these can be slowed up from carrier customization and testing, Samsung postponed the Froyo update for a few months last year. Customers new to smartphones may not be aware or even care about such updates, but those that purchased a Galaxy S last year likely have a long memory.

The new Galaxy Tab 10.1 is basically what folks would expect from a new Honeycomb tablet: there’s not that much here to differentiate the device from the Motorola Xoom, for example. Samsung controls more of its component inventory than Motorola, however, which could mean a more attractive price for the Galaxy Tab. At the moment it appears that manufacturers are chasing Apple’s iPad with 10-inch tablets — aside from LG’s 8.9-inch G-Slate, that is — and that game could change with a new iPad within the next few months.

I think partially for this reason, Samsung held off on a larger update for it’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab, but I don’t think the company is abandoning that line anytime soon. For now, the market is focused on larger, Honeycomb devices. As Honeycomb features are ported down to smaller screens, I expect a new 7-inch, dual-core Galaxy Tab announcement, perhaps by mid-year.

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  1. Gonna wait for Galaxy S III.

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  2. “Samsung held off on a larger update for it’s 7-inch Galaxy Tab, but I don’t think the company is abandoning that line anytime soon.”

    They’re not abandoning the line; they’re just abandoning upgrades like they do for their phones. Nothing shocking here, although Samsung should be ashamed.

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  3. Rise up and see their CEO out as the only way to stop this abuse! Tahrir Square protest = “…for Samsung some consumer trepidation when it comes to software updates…”

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  4. That’s one thing that can affect Samsung on this next round release. I’m looking into maybe getting the Atrix. Will have to wait for your review of real world use. I’m fine with my SGT and hopefully they will update, if not I’m fine with 2.2.

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  5. Notwithstanding the obvious complaints about Samsung’s software support, the other thing that kills it for me on Samsung phones is the lack of a notification light. Come’on Samsung!

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    1. Yup, that same function is missing on the Galaxy Tab, which bums me out from time to time. I have to wake the device just to check for notifications. :(

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      1. It’s as if they don’t understand the meaning of consumer surveying. I can’t think of a customer that *doesn’t* want a notification light or at the very least isn’t bothered by its existence–and as HTC has shown, it’s a trivial matter just concealing it behind the ear speaker grill or something. This is one place where design need not take a backseat to practicality and it kills me.

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  6. Customer trepidation is an understatement! As a Samsung Fascinate owner I am extremely frustrated with the snail-like pace of software updates. IMO this reflects on the company’s level of commitment to customer service. There will have to be some pretty compelling reasons to make me want to buy ANYTHING Samsung in the future.

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  7. Why still no telephony on US models? Game changer sitting right there. “iPad killer” and no one is filling that gap. Poll European users (who do have Galaxy Tabs with cel phone enabled) and they tell you it’s a no brainer. Less tech things to carry is a main driver!!! Wake up! (RATM)

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    1. “Why still no telephony on US models?” Because carriers would rather sell two devices with lucrative data plans: a smartphone and a tablet. ;) It still irks me that the voice capability was stripped out of the U.S. Galaxy Tab versions – I’d rather tote my 7″ tablet and dump the smartphone.

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  8. [...] Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs Honeycomb, the latest version of the Google Android mobile operating system. As my colleague Kevin Tofel reported in February, the device is named after its 10.1 inch screen, and comes in 16GB or 32GB versions. Powered by a [...]

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  9. [...] Galaxy Tab 10.1 runs Honeycomb, the latest version of the Google Android mobile operating system. As my colleague Kevin Tofel reported in February, the device is named after its 10.1 inch screen, and comes in 16GB or 32GB versions. Powered by a [...]

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