Samsung has surprised everyone at MWC in Barcelona by unveiling an eight-inch version of its stylus-equipped Galaxy Note tablet.
The new tablet is more than a smaller version of the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1; there’s an uprated specification, and Samsung has also improved how the Note’s built-in stylus works. In Europe the Note 8 will have built-in 3G.
The Note 8 has a 1.6GHz quad-core processor, up from the 1.4GHz model in the Galaxy Note 10.1. As you’d expect, it’s significantly lighter, at 335g compared to 597g, so won’t be as much of a strain to carry around.
As with the Note 10.1, the Note 8’s S-Pen stylus is more than just a dumb pointing device. There are several stylus-specific functions built into the tablet’s Android 4.1 OS, such as pressure-sensitivity and windows that pop up over whatever app you’re currently using to help you take a quick note. Unlike on the Note 10.1, you can now use the S-Pen to tap the back and menu buttons under the Note 8’s screen.
The Note 8 also improved on the Note 10.1’s Multiscreen support, where two apps sit side-by-side, so you can watch a YouTube video while taking notes, for example. While the larger tablet only supported Multiscreen in six apps, there are now 20 apps that can sit side by side. It’s a big step towards making a tablet as useful as a laptop for certain tasks.
There are no great surprises behind the Note 8’s display. It’s a 1,280×800-pixel model, which gives it a pixel density of 189ppi. This is nothing spectacular, but is slightly more than the iPad Mini’s 163ppi.
The built-in 3G is a bonus for European users, especially for city dwellers with easy access to fast HSDPA networks. It also means it’s possible to use the Note 8 as a phone, but we’d recommend using a headset of some description rather than holding it to your head.
We liked the Galaxy Note 10.1’s stylus, but thought the tablet was overpriced compared to the competition. The Galaxy Note 8 is a useful smaller version, but, with no pricing information yet available, it remains to be seen whether Samsung will charge a large premium over the benchmark for tablets at this size: Google’s £159 Nexus 7.