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Samsung unveils 8-inch tablet with phone capability

Samsung today unveiled an eight-inch tablet with phonecall capability to rival Apple's recently launched iPad mini.

SEOUL // Samsung today unveiled an eight-inch tablet with phonecall capability to rival Apple's recently launched iPad mini and to cement its market dominance by offering devices in a variety of sizes.

The Galaxy Note 8.0 features an eight-inch screen and, where it may steal a march on its rival which measures 7.9-inches, the ability to make phone calls.

The new device, now being marketed by Samsung as a "tablet", is powered by Google's Android software and will be showcased at the four-day Mobile World Congress in Barcelona beginning on February 25, the company said in a statement.

Like previous incarnations of the Galaxy Note, the device comes with a stylus pen allowing the user to write or draw on the screen, which can be split in two to run various programs at the same time.

Global sales will begin in the second quarter, the firm said.

Samsung is the world's top maker of smartphones and mobile phones in general.

The latest device -- the first from the company to feature an eight-inch screen -- is set to fill a gap in the firm's wide product lineup, which ranges from the flagship smartphone Galaxy S to the 5.5-inch Galaxy Note 2 and the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab tablet PC.

The firm has recently shifted its focus to its Galaxy Note, which turned out to be far more popular than the larger Galaxy Tab, offering the Note in various sizes in a move that blurred the lines between smartphones and tablet PCs.

Samsung said the launch of the Galaxy Note 8.0 will "reignite the mid-size tablet category" -- a segment increasingly crowded by rival products including the iPad mini that launched last November and Google's seven-inch Nexus 7.

Samsung and Apple accounted for more than half of all smartphone sales in the final quarter of 2012 -- 29.0 percent for Samsung and 22.1 percent for Apple -- according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

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