[MWC 2013] After nearly one month of leaks and rumors, Samsung is making the Galaxy Note 8.0 tablet official. We all knew what it looked like, thanks to various web leaks leading to Mobile World Congress, but now you can get (almost) all the details related to this new Samsung product. The Galaxy Note 8.0 has been designed to maximize the pen experience, while remaining a usable one-hand device. Maximizing is the important term here because this will also stretch your hand grip what seems to be the limit for “one hand devices”. Still, it is undeniable that a larger display surface does help in terms of drawing and writing, so we need to see what the usage model is going to be, and how the tablet will perform in the real-world.
First, let’s take a quick look at the specifications: the Galaxy Note 8.0 will be powered by a quad-core processor (unknown model at this point), which we bet is a Samsung Exynos chip with four Cortex A9 CPUs and 2GB of RAM. The display is an 8-inch 1280×800 (189 ppi or pixels-per-inch), which is the same resolution than the Galaxy Note 10.1, but in a smaller form-factor, so the pixel density is effectively higher. Android 4.1.2 is the operating system of choice here, and we expect most of it to look like what is on the Galaxy Note 2 and Galaxy Note 10.1, but Samsung has added new content and services (more on that later).
The Note 8.0 will come in WiFi-only (A/B/G/N) or WiFi/HSPA+ versions (the carrier can decide to allow cellular phone calls…), and the latter will have GPS services from both the GPS and Glonass networks. Finally, we have confirmed that this S-Pen supports 1024 levels of pressure sensitivity, just like the Galaxy Note 10.1, so we think that this is the same type of Wacom digitizer. The last highlight is the battery capacity, which stands at 4600 mAh. We’ve added more specs at the bottom of the article…
The Galaxy Note 8.0 will compete with other small tablets like the iPad mini, the Kindle Fire HD or the Nexus 7. It has the advantage of being the only major one that comes with a digitizer pen (The Surface Pro isn’t in the same category), which remains a very rare feature in the Android tablet world. This is enough differentiation to truly insulate the Note 8 from any real competition, if the end-user cares about a good pen experience.
User Interface, Content and Services
Although the Galaxy Note 8.0 is a cousin of the Galaxy Note 2 smartphone, it is fair to say that the sheer increase in size can alter the usage model significantly. For instance, the multi-window (split-screen) feature would become much more useful, since details in a sub-window are much more readable. Obviously, the writing experience is magnified by the increased surface. Although we can write on post-its, it’s fair to say that we all like using pens on a big surface.
To supplement its traditional S-Note application, Samsung is adding Awesome Note, a new app that this more suited to intensive note-taking while S-Note was more for casual, if not artistic, notes and drawings.
Of course, Samsung continues to be committed to its tablets use at home, which means that the Galaxy Note 8.0 can also be used as a high-tech universal remote, thanks to Smart Remote which merges TV remote and TV Guide in one place.
This new tablet will be all about usage model. For users in select countries, it could serve as a cellular voice device, which the iPad mini doesn’t do as far as we know, so that could be an extra-appeal (there is always a small, but hard-core, crowd for that), but the Galaxy Note 8.0 was not designed to compete based on specs, or based on the industrial design (we would have loved to see a design closer to the Note 2…).
In many ways, we suspect that the Note 8.0 will be more successful than the Galaxy Note 10.1 (in terms of unit shipped), thanks for a more portable form-factor and possibly a lower price. It’s not clear what Samsung’s own goal is (in terms of unit shipped), but so far, the company believes in the “pen” market, and we think that they are right to invest: as time goes on, faster hardware translate into a better pen experience, and this may just pay big time down the road. Have you tried a Galaxy Note device? What would you like to see samsung do with electronic pens in the future?