We have what might be our first proper glimpse of the tablet itself out in the wild -- and it's packing a few surprises. In spy shots obtained by Italian outlet DDAY.it, we see an unknown Samsung tablet sporting a curved chassis similar to the Galaxy S3 and Note 2 -- a far cry from earlier Samsung tablet designs. The size of the tablet, and the "S Pen" holder shown in the bottom right in the pic above, would seem to confirm this as the Galaxy Note 8.0.
More surprising still is Samsung's apparent decision to eschew on-screen buttons in favor of a traditional menu, home and back setup. It's a break from usual Android tablet designs, though it could be argued that changes to Android's action bar in version 4.2 mean that on-screen controls are less important than they were back in the Honeycomb days.
We should also consider the possibility that this might not be the final Note 8.0 design. In the past, Samsung has craftily put out several pre-release versions of devices (like the Galaxy S3) in the hope of keeping the final design secret. Regardless, it's in Samsung's best interest, branding-wise, to make the Note 8.0 visually close to its smartphone line-up, and this kind of design certainly achieves that.
Previous rumors have the Galaxy Note 8.0 debuting at Mobile World Congress in late February ahead of a March launch. Reported specs include an 8-inch 1280x800 display, a 1.6GHz Exynos 4 Quad CPU, 2GB of RAM and TouchWiz'd Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. We'll be live in Barcelona next month to bring you full coverage of the Note 8.0 as it's announced.