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Samsung adds LTE to a phone and a tablet for Europe

The new Galaxy S II and Galaxy Tab 8.9 have been customized for European LTE spectrum, but can be used elsewhere

Samsung has updated its Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone and the Galaxy Tab 8.9 tablet, increasing processor speeds and adding the ability to connect to LTE (Long-Term Evolution) networks operating on three different frequency bands used in Europe.

The new products will be on display at the Internationale Funkaustellung (IFA) in Berlin, which officially opens its doors on Friday. Both devices have a new dual-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon processor under the hood, and will start shipping at the beginning of next year, according to a statement from Samsung in Sweden. The company did not say how much they will cost.

LTE may be turning into the worldwide de facto standard for 4G infrastructure, but spectrum policy and availability is causing the market for the technology to become regionally fragmented, market research company Informa Telecoms & Media said in a recent report.

The Samsung Galaxy S II LTE and the Galaxy Tab 8.9 will operate on 800MHz, 1.8GHz and 2.6GHz LTE networks, which will make them a good fit for use in Europe. Today, LTE is available in Norway, Sweden, Poland, Austria, Finland, Germany, Denmark, Estonia and Lithuania.

The 2.6GHz band, which looks to become the most popular, will also be used in parts of Latin America, Africa and Asia Pacific, while 1.8GHz, which has received more attention lately, will be used in Asia Pacific and the Middle East. The lowest frequency, 800MHz, is the least popular of the three. Besides Europe, it will be used in Asia Pacific, as well, Informa wrote.

So far, Europeans have been able to access LTE using modems, but the availability of LTE smartphones and tablets will help accelerate LTE's current momentum, and is key to further uptake of the technology, according to Alan Hadden, president at GSA (Global mobile Suppliers Association).

Samsung is releasing the phone and tablet now because it is at last seeing demand for such products from operators, said Samsung spokesman Erik Johannesson.

The Android 2.3-based Samsung Galaxy S II has a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED plus screen and an 8-megapixel camera with LED flash, which can record video at 1080p. The smartphone measures 129.8 x 68.8 x 9.49 millimeters and weighs 130.5 grams. That compares to 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.49 millimeters and 116 grams for the original version, which has a 4.3-inch screen.

The Android 3.2-based Galaxy Tab 8.9 has an 8.9-inch LCD display and a 3-megapixel camera with LED flash and can shoot video at 720p.

Where there is no LTE coverage, the smartphone and the tablet can fall back on slower 3G or 2G data networks.

Since 4G networks can't yet carry voice calls, the smartphone will also switch data traffic over to a 3G network while a voice call is in progress, turning off the 4G radio to extend battery life. Short battery life has been a problem on U.S. LTE smartphones such as the HTC Thunderbolt.

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