Samsung just announced that the Galaxy Tab 10.1, given away early to attendees of Google IO (see the review here) will be available over the next two weeks, and they snuck in a little surprise. As had been rumored, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 will indeed launch with the latest version of Honeycomb, Android 3.1 on board. The extra bonus here is that to meet the deadline, the Tab will be running stock 3.1, rather than have Samsung’s TouchWiz UX skin as originally planned.
The news was indirectly mentioned in the press release today announcing the dates for the Samsung tablet, when at the bottom it said that TouchWiz UX would be available as an additional download at a later date. A comment from the president and CEO of Samsung, Dale Sohn, confirms that making sure the Galaxy Tab 10.1 launched with Android 3.1 was a primary goal. It appears that this goal has come at the cost (or to some, bonus) of no Samsung UI skin.
There is no confirmation that later down the road, the device will not ship with TouchWiz. This news is an indication of how manufacturers UI skins, if nothing else, slow down upgrades. While it does naturally take time to make adaptions for different screens, chipsets and the like, the main reason many phones don’t get an upgrade for so long is because of the time it takes to work skins like HTC’s Sense, Motorblur, or Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on top of them. I for one am a fan of stock Android, and would take an upgraded version of Android without a skin over an older version with a UI any day. I’m glad to see Samsung give priority to the upgrade in this case, and think that offering their UI for download at a later date was a good compromise on their part
So if you love stock Android, and love Android tablets thinner than the iPad, you can pick up the Galaxy Tab 10.1 starting June 8th at the Best Buy in Union Square in New York, NY, or nationwide June 17th.