Samsung launches new tablets in flagship phone hiatus

The new Samsung tablet S3 is displayed at  the Mobile World Congress on Sunday (Feb 23, 2017).
The new Samsung tablet S3 is displayed at the Mobile World Congress on Sunday (Feb 23, 2017).PHOTO: REUTERS

BARCELONA (REUTERS) - Samsung Electronics launched two new tablets on Sunday, marking its first major announcement since being forced to withdraw the flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone after some of the devices caught fire.

The Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book were presented at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, in past years the scene of major Samsung launches. This year, Samsung has postponed the presentation of the Galaxy S8, its next key device.

Instead, it took the wraps off the Galaxy Tab S3 and the Galaxy Book, which comes in a 10.6-inch and a 12-inch version.

The Galaxy Book will run on Microsoft Windows 10. The Tab S3 will have speakers by Harman-owned AKG, Samsung's first use of the brand since agreeing to buy Harman for US$8 billion last year.

Samsung withdrew the Galaxy Note 7 last October after faulty batteries led some devices to catch fire, leading to a loss of consumer trust, wiping out US$5.3 billion of operating profit, and allowing Apple's iPhone to overtake it in sales.

Samsung's smartphone market share dropped to 17.7 per cent in the fourth quarter, while Apple's rose to 17.8 per cent, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

Samsung is expected to launch the S8 in April. In the meantime, dozens of device makers are launching new phones at Mobile World Congress, hoping to exploit the gap Samsung has left.