Determined to continue pressing into an iPad-dominated market, Samsung has upgraded its 7-inch tablet with a few new capabilities and slightly better performance.
Samsung calls its new Galaxy Tab 3 an evolution. Running Android 4.1, or Jelly Bean, the tablet is smaller and offers more user options than the Galaxy Tab 2. Samsung specifically pointed to the device's compact, one-hand grip form factor designed to make it easier for users to hold it more comfortably for hours or store in pocket or small bag. The design also offers a thinner bezel.
In its announcement, Samsung highlighted better multimedia performance. Powered by a 1.2-GHz dual-core processor, the Galaxy Tab 3 makes possible faster downloads and sharing, as well as faster access to videos, apps, games, and the Web, Samsung said. The Galaxy Tab 3 is offered with either 8 GB or 16 GB of internal storage plus up to 64 GB of expandable memory.
Overshadowed by the Galaxy Note
Avi Greengart, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, said based on the specs Samsung published, the Tab 3 is much the same as the previous version.
"The Galaxy Tab 3 has a slightly thinner bezel and an upgraded processor. It looks like a minor evolution of the line to round things out," Greengart said. "The Galaxy Tabs are a bit overshadowed by the Galaxy Note, which have more differentiation through a stylus that offers pressure sensitivity and a richer software load that was designed to accommodate it."
Still, Samsung is pressing the user experience marketing buttons with its new tablet.
The company says the Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch has better cameras -- a 3-megapixel camera rear camera and 1.3 -megapixel front camera. Equipped with near-field communication, the tablet also allows users to share photos and videos with taps and swipes.
The Size Master
Still, Greengart isn't convinced the new Galaxy Tab will steal market share from the Apple's iPad mini. He told us the Galaxy Tabs are more of a "barebones" product line from Samsung, designed to compete on price.
"Samsung continues to ensure it has something at every single size possible. They have 3-1/2 inches all the way to 10.1 inches. I don't think you can go more than an inch without finding a Samsung product," Greengart said.
"The Tab products have not seen the same success as Apple's iPad but Samsung is doggedly determined to remain in the game and ensure it isn't losing for lack of products."
The Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch Wi-Fi version will be available in May, and a 3G version will follow in June. Prices were not disclosed.