The Galaxy Tab 8.9 was the worst-kept secret of CTIA 2011. Then again, it’s not like Samsung really tried that hard to keep it one; the teaser site made it clear enough that another Tab was in the plans for the US, one that was in between the 7-inch and 10.1-inch versions. Samsung is trying hard to offer as many options as possible, and has done the best at giving a diverse lineup of tablets. Every other OEM has come out with only one tablet each, with the exception of Apple — and even then, the iPad and iPad 2 are still the same exact size, not really offering diversity.
But when Samsung announced the Galaxy Tab 8.9, the company also re-announced the 10.1 version and gave it a couple new fresh twists to make it worth hearing about: a revamped Touchwiz UI that went right over Android 3.0 Honeycomb with some new features, and a much thinner form factor at 8.6 mm thin.
Both models, the 8.9 and 10.1, will have the same form factor and look virtually identical with the exception of size. Both will use the TouchWiz UI as well. The only difference between the two will be its size (although I suppose price is another difference as well).
Pricing was announced for both versions, with WiFi-only being the only connectivity option for now; however, during my hands-on with both devices, I noticed a SIM card slot on both, giving me the impression that there will be a good chance we’ll see it show up on AT&T or T-Mobile eventually (or at least globally on any GSM network for that matter).
The pricing for both models are definitely competitive and could do very well. The 10.1, for instance, is priced at $499 for 16 GB and $599 for 32 GB (available beginning June 8); the 8.9 is priced at $469 and $569 for the same storage options (available sometime in early summer).
I’ve included the videos for both the 8.9 and 10.1, as well as some comparison shots. One thing I noted in the videos was the carbon-fiber material on the back that allows for better gripping, but I had the chance to go back later and handle the “real, closer to finished” models hiding under glass; these models didn’t have the grippy material on the back but rather a slick non-glossy plastic. Since it was also the official 8.6 mm thinness (the hands-on models were 10.9 mm), I do believe this is the model closest to being final.
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