Although Samsung pioneered 7-in. tablets two years ago with the original Galaxy Tab, the company may be about to turn its back on the category — at least for now.
SamMobile, a fairly reliable source for Samsung rumors, reports that the company has dropped plans for a Galaxy Tab 3 7.0. The not-so-reliable DigiTimes had reported last week that the 7-in. tablet was in the works, but now SamMobile says Samsung may opt not to release the product and focus on 8-in. and 10-in. tablets instead.
The company is expected to announce several new tablets, including an 8-in. Galaxy Note, at Mobile World Congress next month.
Times are tough for 7-in. tablets, with the exception of Google’s Nexus 7, Barnes & Noble’s Nook HD and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. Because the makers of those tablets sell their own apps and content, they can afford not to make much money, if any, on the actual hardware. In doing so, they’ve set an expectation that small tablets shouldn’t cost much more than $200.
That doesn’t leave much breathing room for a traditional hardwaremaker like Samsung. To make a compelling 7-in. tablet, the only options are to go even cheaper with bargain basement specs, or make a premium 7-in. tablet at a much higher price. There’s already a lot of competition at the low end, and I’ve yet to see an expensive 7-in. tablet become a big seller.
So I could understand why Samsung might want to go a different route. An 8-in. Galaxy Note would stand out from slightly smaller tablets, and it would compete against Apple’s iPad Mini with unique features, such as the built-in stylus and support for windowed apps. And if the Galaxy Note 10.1 is any indication, an 8-in. version would probably match the iPad Mini in price.
Still, it’s sad to hear that Samsung may be ditching its 7-in. tablet plans. The original Galaxy Tab was what first piqued my interest in smaller slates — they’re great for gaming, typing and reading — and I’d like to see more from the category than just a race to the bottom. (I’ve secretly hoped for a 7-in. Galaxy Note that could replace a reporter’s notebook and easily fit inside a coat pocket.) Tablets with 8-in. screens are still compact, but they’re a little less easy to hold in one hand and to stow away in a pocket.