Samsung extends Galaxy Tab 3 line-up with 8-inch and 10.1-inch models

The tablets support six LTE bands, but frequencies used in the U.S are missing

Samsung Electronics has extended its Galaxy Tab 3 line-up with 8-inch and 10.1-inch models. The latter uses a dual-core processor from Intel and both have extensive support for LTE networks.

The two new products will be offered alongside the previously announced 7-inch version of the Tab 3 and will start shipping this month around the world, according to Samsung. The 8-inch screen size is a new addition to the Galaxy Tab family, although Samsung has offered a 7.7-inch model in the past. The 10.1-inch version, on the other hand, is an incremental upgrade over the existing Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) tablet.

The Galaxy Tab 3 8-inch screen has a 1280 x 800 pixels and is powered by a 1.5GHz dual-core processor. There is a 5-megapixel camera on the back and a 1.3 megapixel camera on the front. The integrated storage is 16GB or 32GB -- of which approximately 11.26GB and 26.16GB are available to users -- and the tablet has 1.5GB of RAM.

The Galaxy Tab 3 10.1-inch screen has the same resolution as its smaller 8-inch sibling and the available integrated storage is the same, but the available RAM is 1GB. The dual-core processor is slightly faster at 1.6GHz and comes from Intel. It has a 3-megapixel camera on the back and a 1.3-megapixel camera on the front.

That compares to the Galaxy Tab 2 (10.1) which is powered by a 1GHz ARM dual-core processor. It too has a 10.1-inch screen with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution.

That Samsung as chosen to go with an Intel processor is indicative of a deeper strategic relationship between the two companies, according to Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight.

"They are already working together on the Tizen operating system, which we have yet to see emerge. The tablet further shows that their futures are closely aligned," Blaber said.

Intel has had a hard time breaking ARM's dominance to get a foothold in the smartphone and tablet market. But powering the 10.1-inch model is a significant design win, even though Samsung isn't advertising that fact. Blaber expects to see more Android-based and Intel-powered tablets later this year. Next year it will see greater progress in the smartphone market thanks to the launch of Merrifield.

"The power and performance gap to ARM for Intel Atom is a myth now ... But Intel still has a lot of work to do and its market share in the mobile space, be it tablet or smartphone, is very, very small," Blaber said.

However, while Intel is making progress, ARM isn't standing still. On Monday, it launched the low-power Cortex-A12 processor, which will be used by mid-range smartphones and tablets priced between US$200 and $350.

"ARM is realistic and knows that Intel is finally after a number of misfires starting to get to a point where it can be competitive," Blaber said.

The new Samsung tablets both run Android 4.2. Other similarities include a microSD card slot to expand the available storage capacity and support for six LTE bands. They are 800, 850, 900, 1800, 2100 and 2600MHz, which means the tablets can access networks across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South America.

There will be Wi-Fi versions available for users that don't want to attach their tablets to cellular networks.

Samsung didn't say whether it will release versions that support the 700MHz LTE band more widely used in the U.S.The company didn't say what the new tablets will cost, but since they are scheduled to start shipping in the "beginning of June," would-be buyers will soon find out.

The Samsung tablets weren't the only ones announced on Monday. Asustek Computer introduced the Memo Pad FHD7, which has a 7-inch screen and will retail for just US$129.

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