Samsung had one of the most popular exhibits at Mobile World Congress 2012, with the majority of visitors clamoring to try out the Galaxy Note 10.1 Samsung had announced earlier in the week. Seemingly lost in the shuffle of attendee interest — and the Galaxy Note banners adorning what seemed like every building at the venue — was the fact that Samsung also announced a 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 2, and for the first time in public, showed off the 7-inch Galaxy Tab 2 it announced weeks earlier.
Looking at the spec sheet, it’s understandable. Both Galaxy Tab 2 tablets are very modest updates from the line, with 1GHz dual-core processors and not quad-core chips. In fact, Samsung reps commented that both are targeted to the mid-range market, and that both will launch with Android Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0.
The Galaxy Tab 2 looks nearly identical to the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, but the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 2 has the same Galaxy Tab 10.1N design as the Galaxy Note 10.1. Both devices are longer with chrome-colored trim on the short sides and feature front-facing speakers. You might remember the Galaxy Tab 10.1N as Samsung’s answer to Apple legal claims that the original thin Galaxy Tab 10.1 ripped off Apple design patents; claims that briefly resulted in Galaxy Tab 10.1 sales being halted in Germany.
Apart from that improvement on the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 2 and Android ICS, there is little more that distinguishes the Tab 2 models from others in the line. And there will be less when the Samsung Honeycomb tablets receive the ICS upgrade (Samsung has not confirmed specifics nor have they provided dates, only claiming the original Samsung Galaxy Tab will not receive ICS and will be stuck with Gingerbread 2.3). Both devices had excellent displays and performed well in our brief time with them. Both featured a very plastic build, and both lack any ports outside of the proprietary Samsung pin connector.
We were very disappointed that Samsung did not announce a quad-core tablet at either CES 2012 or this Mobile World Congress. Thankfully, Huawei stepped up and had the quad-core MediaPad 10 FHD on display. Samsung and other Android tablet makers might want to keep a close eye on Huawei, because the Chinese device maker is making a big play for the American market. And Huawei makes many of its own components, including the 1.5GHz quad-core K3 chip found in the MediaPad 10.
We were pleasantly surprised by the T-Mobile SpringBoard (US version of the 7-inch MediaPad), and the MediaPad 10 also seems like a quality device, with an excellent 1920 x 1200 display and zippy performance. At a glance, it could easily be confused for a Samsung tablet or iPad, as it too has only a proprietary pin connector on the bottom landscape side.
ASUS also had a new quad-core tablet on display in the ASUS Transformer Pad 300 series with NVIDIA Tegra 3 and LTE support. And speaking of NVIDIA, it featured a 7.7-inch Toshiba tablet with a Tegra 3 quad-core chip at its Mobile World Congress Booth. A quick chat with the NVIDIA reps revealed that this may be the same 7.7-inch Toshiba prototype we saw at CES, complete with plain Android ICS and a Super AMOLED display.
Just like the MediaPad 10, the Toshiba tablet operated very smoothly and it had a number of high-end games pre-loaded to show off its processing prowess. It also had a decent build quality and polished design. Given that the ultrathin Toshiba Excite LE is scheduled to launch next week, perhaps this 7.7-inch model will be the next Toshiba tablet offering.