Samsung today announced the Galaxy Tab 3, a 7-inch tablet with the ability to make phone calls. Cue accusations of Samsung “trolling” consumers, the click-clack of thousands of keyboards conveying the vitriol of face-palming techies, and, soon, the end of civilization as we know it. (Wait, sorry, I was thinking of Google Glass with that last one.)
Using a tablet for anything besides reading or watching a video seems ridiculous. The only way to not look like an asshole while talking on a tablet is to avoid talking on a tablet, the thinking goes, and the same sentiment has been applied to people who take pictures or record video with their 7-or 10-inch devices instead of a smartphone or (and these still exist, believe it or not) actual cameras.
But, then, that doesn’t seem to be stopping people from using their tablets to record the moment. We saw this in the before-and-after images (which weren’t quite as “before-and-after” as they seemed) of St. Peter’s Square during the election of the new Pope, where at least one guy captured the event with a tablet instead of a smartphone. It isn’t uncommon to see people snapping photos with their tablets around Times Square, or during a conference, or wherever else they want to take a picture.
There’s an oft-cited truism for this trend, often used to justify and explain the meteoric rise of the iPhone and its previously-shitty camera, that goes something like “The best camera is the one you have with you.” Maybe the same principle can be applied to phones — it doesn’t matter what form it takes, so long as it’s there.
And it’s not like people can’t use their tablets to place calls right now, with or without the Galaxy Tab 3. Skype is available on the iPad, Android devices, and Windows 8 tablets. FaceTime, Apple’s video-chatting service, is available on all of its devices, from the iPod touch to the iPad mini. People can, and have, turn their tablets into makeshift phones if they so desire.
Samsung adding phone capabilities to the Galaxy Tab 3 isn’t an opening of the “tablet-as-phone” gates, or the beginning of a trend. (Hell, the Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus already offered similar functionality back in 2011.) Instead, it seems to be Samsung recognizing at least some consumers’ desire to use their tablets as smartphones, no matter how they look while doing so.
Besides, even if people do use their tablets to make calls, chances are good that they’ll look quite as ridiculous as this guy:
So at least there’s that.