Samsung Takes a Shot at Apple's iPad Mini

Samsung is taking yet another shot at its frenemy from Cupertino, this time aiming directly at Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) iPad Mini. At Mobile World Congress in Spain, Samsung took the wraps off of its newest addition to its already broad product portfolio, the Galaxy Note 8.0.

The Android tablet carries an 8-inch display, slightly larger than the 7.9-inch display found on the iPad Mini. Like other devices in Samsung's Note family, the Note 8.0 will come with an S Pen stylus that is geared toward productivity and other creative tasks.

Anyone who watched the Oscars should now be quite familiar with the stylus, as Samsung again showed its penchant for heavy ad spending during the Academy Awards with an array of ads featuring Galaxy Note and Galaxy S devices. Samsung's marketing expenses are simply mind-boggling as the South Korean conglomerate plunges billions into building up its Galaxy brand.

The Note 8.0 will run on the relatively recent Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with Samsung's own TouchWiz software layer on top. There are a number of ways that Samsung is looking to differentiate the Note 8.0 from the iPad Mini to consumers. First is the aforementioned stylus. Second, Samsung has been trying to push its multiwindow multitasking as a selling point, even though the feature performed poorly on the Note 10.1. Lastly, the Note 8.0 can also be used as a phone.

That's right, the Note 8.0 has an earpiece, microphone, and phone app. If investors thought the phablet trend would cool down as OEMs literally reach the physical limits of the human hand, think again. The Galaxy Note 8.0 is set to be the size king of the phablet category, for better or for worse -- a title that Samsung was about to lose to Huawei's 6.1-inch Ascend Mate. The current Galaxy Note II sports a 5.5-inch display.

What remains to be seen is pricing and U.S. availability, although it's aiming for an international rollout in the second quarter. The iPad Mini is taking off in popularity as consumer demand has shifted to smaller form factors and the iPad remains the defining brand of the tablet market. Apple's smaller device starts at $329, with other leading devices in that category typically in the $200 price range.

Can adding a stylus and phone capabilities give the Note 8.0 a shot at taking down the iPad Mini?

There's a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.

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