Samsung might have 4G LTE Galaxy Tab this year

by Phil Hornshaw

Following the release of the iPad 2, the South Korean electronics manufacturer went back to the drawing board and redesigned its Galaxy Tab to compete with Apple’s latest creation. What resulted was an Android tablet that was actually thinner than the iPad 2 (itself a feat) and comparable in a lot of ways to Apple’s device. So comparable in fact, that Apple is suing Samsung for plagiarizing its design. Samsung maintains it isn’t worried about that lawsuit, by the way.

But while Samsung (005930.KS) has fought to keep up with the Joneses in Apple (AAPL) and its tablet design, it appears the company isn’t content to just play catch-up. Instead, Samsung is going forward with a new version of its Galaxy Tab, which will include 4G LTE technology and be available later this year, according to a report from Mashable.

In fact, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1, the resized and spiffed-out Galaxy Tab that Samsung has been working on since March, hasn’t even hit shelves yet, and already the company is planning to launch a new version of the device later this year. Samsung’s J.K. Shin said as much in an interview with Dow Jones Newswire. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is set to release this summer following its redesign. The 4G LTE tab would be hitting stores by the end of 2011, and the Galaxy S II, a new version of Samsung’s Galaxy S smartphone, is set for an early 2012 launch.

That seems an awful fast release for customers who may have just been gearing up to snag a Galaxy Tab 10.1. Releasing another (probably better) version so quickly could turn customers off to Samsung’s tablet, so it’ll be interesting to see how the company deals with the two versions and keeps up the value of the as-yet unreleased 10.1. There aren’t a lot of details on the 4G Galaxy Tab, so it’s hard to speculate on just how different it’ll be from the 10.1, but I have a feeling Samsung will keep it pretty similar and offer it as another version of the planned Wi-Fi-only and 3G-capable 10.1 models.

What’s interesting about the 4G LTE development is that the Galaxy Tab seems uniquely positioned to take on Apple’s iPad 2 now that it sports a redesign, and this is another very big feature that’s just not available to the Apple community in any way. The Galaxy Tab wouldn’t be the first Android tablet to sport 4G technology, but it might be one of the most visible.

Still, it doesn’t appear that Samsung and the Android tablet market has Apple quaking in its boots or anything, and the addition of 4G LTE to the Galaxy line-up – while definitely exciting – is still just another drop in the bucket of features it’ll take to put a serious dent in the iPad. It still leaves off the one all-important consideration: apps that do great things. Apple routinely nails that portion of tablet development, but we’ll have to wait and see what Samsung can bring to the table.