With Samsung flooding the market with phones and tablets, it’s hardly surprising that they’ve release three, yes, three Samsung Galaxy Tab 3s. The baby of the bunch is the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, the biggest Tab 3 is the 10-incher and the subject of this review sitting in between is the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0.
Coupling dual-cores with a WXGA display, slender styling and a 5-megapixel rear facing camera, can Samsung’s slate stack up against the current 8-inch king, the iPad mini?
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0: Design and screen
While we’re not normally advocates of Samsung’s design language across either phones or tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is a tour de force on the looks front.
Measuring just 7.4mm thin, it’s even skinnier than Samsung’s 7.9mm flagship phone, the Galaxy S4. It feels solid and on-brand, with ergonomically rounded corners and a smooth, glossy backing, not to mention faux-metal banding across the sides.
While the look isn’t bad, its feel is where it strikes gold, weighing just 314g, it sits well in the hand in portrait when reading a book and in landscape for movies, games and photos.
Ports include a 3.5mm headphone jack at the top, a power button, volume rocker and IR blaster on the right, a microSD card slot on the left, a microUSB port and speakers at the base and a camera on the reverse.
The fascia packs a front facing 1.3-megapixel camera above the 8-inch WXGA display. Below are two capacitive buttons either side of a physical home button.
On the subject of the display, the LCD panel is bright and punchy with exceptional viewing angles. The pixel density isn’t impressive when compared to other Android tablets like the Google Nexus 7 (2013), middling at 189PPI. It’s still sharper than the iPad mini though, arguably the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0’s main competition.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0: OS and multimedia
With Android 4.2 and Samsung’s TouchWiz Nature UX, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 delivers a virtually identical UI experience to that of the rest of Samsung’s current portfolio, including the flagship Galaxy S4.
This is both a pro and a con. On the one hand, it looks well suited to the 8-inch display. The UI is smooth, interaction is engaging with bright colours and transitions, and Samsung loads its own apps on board which enhance the experience, specifically across reading and using the tab as a second screen.
The dual-cores and decent display mean HD video playback and 3D gaming are all well executed on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. When playing more intense games, there are a few dropped frames here and there, making the tab best suited to casual to moderate gamers.
The 5-megapixel camera around the back offers neither a flash nor incredible low-light performance, so won’t be perfect for all occasions. Still, with good detail levels in decent lighting, not to mention an intuitive shooting interface it’s a comparable experience to other similarly priced tablets on the market.
Thanks to the IR Blaster and the Samsung’ WatchOn TV companion service, the tab makes for a great second screen.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0: Connectivity, performance and battery
Available in 4G and Wi-Fi versions, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 also comes loaded with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, not to mention an IR blaster. With the only omissions of note being NFC and Wireless charging, it’s definitely competitive.
Internal memory is 16GB, expandable by an additional 64GB via microSD card, providing ample room for games, movies, apps and music.
The 1.5GHz dual-core Samsung Exynos 4 processor and 1.5GB RAM inside the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 ensure the UI is consistently fluid and hanging is kept to a minimum. With its 4450 mAh battery, you’ll get a couple of days out of it comfortably. With light use, this could stretch to three or four, very impressive considering the tablets slender form.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 conclusion
We really didn’t like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0. It was a chunky, bezelicious, out of date tab that cost almost as much as a new Nexus 7 (2013). In a turn for the books, we actually really, really like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0.
It’s design may still be Samsung plastic through and through, but it’s solid, slender and sits incredibly well in the hand. The screen is passable, offering more pixels-per-inch than the iPad mini and the relatively new version of Android on board is welcome.
At £269, it costs more than we’d look to pay for one, and that hurts the score. Google’s Nexus 7 (2013) offers more power and a higher resolution display, not to mention NFC and wireless charging for just £200 . Still, for a slender, relatively bezelless tab, you could do a lot worse, especially if you can find one for under £230.