|Introduction and Specifications|
Samsung recognizes that the way in which individuals use tablets varies considerably from one user to the next. As a result, Samsung’s tablet portfolio is quite varied, offering something for everyone. Samsung’s tablet portfolio includes models that range in size from 7-inch to 10.1-inch screens. The power and performance associated with the various Samsung Galaxy tablets also varies and includes high-end powerful tablets and models that are more basic and budget-friendly.
Today, we’re going to take a hands-on look at the 8-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3. This tablet sits in the middle of the Galaxy Tab 3 portfolio between the 7-inch and 10.1-inch models. The Galaxy Tab 3 series is Samsung’s mid-range line of tablets. As a result you won’t get the fastest, cutting-edge processors and other high-end specifications, but you won’t get the high price tag either. Even so, if you take a closer look at the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 specifications below, you’ll see it’s still a very capable device.
For users who already have a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, the Galaxy Tab 3 will seem very familiar, both in terms of exterior styling and user experience. This is especially great for people who don’t want to deal with the learning curve of a new device, which is exactly who Samsung is targeting with this line of tablets.
|Design and User Interface|
If you put the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 next to one of the company’s Galaxy smartphones such as the Galaxy S III or Galaxy S 4, you’ll notice that Samsung used the same styling cues for all of the devices. Although the Galaxy Tab 3 is obviously larger, you’ll find the same buttons below the display —a physical 'Home' button sandwiched between a menu softkey and a back softkey. Our test unit has a white bezel that surrounds the display. A gold brown version of the tablet is also available. Above the display you’ll find the Samsung logo surrounded by two dark circles. The leftmost circle houses the light sensor while the front-facing 1.3megapixel camera is located to the right of the logo.
The edge of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 features the same silver finish that you'll find on the Galaxy S III or Galaxy S 4. On the left side of the tablet, is the microSD card slot. The bottom edge houses the microUSB port along with two speakers. Although the placement of the speakers at the bottom of the tablet is a bit of a disappointment since we prefer front-facing speakers, they do pump out a good amount of volume for a tablet. The quality of the speakers is on par with what we’d expect from this type of device.
On the right edge of the tablet, you’ll find an infrared blaster, volume rocker, and power/lock key. The tablet’s 3.5mm headset jack is located on the top edge.
When you flip the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 over, you’ll notice the same glossy patterned finish as found on the front of the device. A 5 megapixel camera is located in the upper left corner of the back. This camera does not include a flash.
In terms of physical size, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 measures 4.81 x 8.24 x 0.27 inches and weighs 10.88 ounces. Like the Galaxy S 4, the edges of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 are slightly rounded. The thickness of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and the Galaxy S 4 is nearly identical as well. The tablet has a smooth, glossy finish that covers the device. As a result, the tablet is slightly slippery when held in hand. Granted, the tablet never slid out of our hand but it’s worth noting there isn’t a textured, easy grip surface like some tablets have.
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 has a WXGA (1280 x 800) display which is a bit disappointing since other tablets with a similar price tags offer higher resolutions. We’re always fans of greater pixel density, so we wish Samsung would have included a higher-res display with the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. The screen offers a great viewing experience from nearly any angle, however. We felt colors and the vibrancy of images were in line with what you’d expect from a WXGA display.
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 comes with Android 4.2.2 installed. Samsung also includes a few of its own extra software features including Samsung’s WatchON service, Multi-Window functionality, Group Play, and SAFE (Samsung for Enterprise). When using the tablet’s built-in IR blaster as a universal remote, users can also activate WatchON which recommends TV shows and on-demand content.
We’ve seen Samsung’s Multi-Window functionality on other devices in the past and have come to appreciate this feature, especially on larger-screen devices such as tablets. Although the feature is functional on a phone, using it on a tablet is much more user-friendly. With Multi-Window, you can view two apps side-by-side. According to Samsung, the Multi-Window functionality is compatible with 20 apps. Group Play lets you connect up to eight compatible devices and share music, pictures, or documents or play games.
Samsung’s SAFE (Samsung for Enterprise) is designed to give business users added peace of mind with advanced Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync features, on-device AES 256-bit encryption, VPN connectivity, and multivendor Mobile Device Management support.
|Performance: CPU and Web Browsing|
In the following tests, we will take a look at how the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 compares to other tablets by running a few common benchmarks that are currently available online or in the Google Play Store.
As one would expect, the dual-core CPU and 1.5GB of RAM found in the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 hold the tablet back in comparison to quad-core systems with more RAM. Still, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 outpaces the original Galaxy Tab by a decent margin in the Linpack multithreaded test.
In the SunSpider test, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 earned a midrange score coming in just a bit behind another Samsung tablet, the Note 10.1. While browsing the web on the tablet, we didn’t experience any major hiccups or delays.
There are a handful of tablets in our reference database that have faster processors and more RAM than the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. As a result, we were impressed by the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0’s third place score in the Rightware BrowserMark test.
|Performance: Graphics and GLBenchmark|
GLBenchmark (now known as GFX Bench) is a unified 3D graphics performance benchmark suite. We use the fillrate test and the Egypt Off Screen test to measure 3D performance in frames per second. The Off Screen test renders workloads at 1280x720 for all devices, but off-screen so Vsynch and screen resolution are not limiting performance factors.
Google’s new Nexus 7 still led the pack in the GLBenchmark Fill Texture Fetch benchmark, but the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 put up an excellent score, earning third place behind the Nexus 7 (2013) and the Galaxy Note 8.0.
In the Offscreen test, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 earned fourth place coming in behind the Nexus 7 (2013), iPad 3, and Galaxy Note 8.0. Keeping in mind that the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 was designed for basic, everyday use (not extreme gaming), the score we see here is reasonable.
Given that the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 wasn’t designed to be a high-end gaming tablet, we weren’t surprised to find the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 in the lower half of the scores in this taxing benchmark.
|Performance: Graphics & General System|
3DMark Ice Storm is an OpenGL ES 2.0 benchmark test that uses fixed off-screen rendering at 720p then scales the output to fit the native display resolution of your device. Ice Storm includes two graphics tests designed to stress the GPU performance of your device and a physics test to stress its CPU performance.
Here again the scores reflect the fact that the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 wasn’t designed to be a high-end gaming tablet. Still, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 earns a higher score than the previous generation Galaxy Tab.
There's too much data to graph with the latest version of the AnTuTu benchmark, so we've got all of the numbers in a simple table for you here. As you can see, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 earns a mid-range score in the IO tests and comes in at the bottom in the other components of this test.
|Performance: Battery Life & Camera|
Samsung includes a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera and a 5 megapixel rear-facing camera with the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. The rear-facing camera is located in the upper left corner of the tablet and does not have a flash, which will limit the situations in which it can capture excellent images.
Many of the outdoor images we captured using the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0’s rear-facing camera were disappointing. Granted, these images were taken on a cloudy, dreary day but in real life, the green, yellow, and red leaves still popped against the background. The pictures make things appear duller than they really were. Still, we were able to capture some usable images with this camera. Close-up shots were much better in terms of detail than many of our landscape shots.Battery Life
In an attempt to quantitatively measure the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0’s battery life in a controlled benchmark environment, we ran AnTuTu's battery rundown test. This a newer test for us, so we're still building out our baseline reference numbers. This test is fairly intense, ramping-up CPU cycles in an effort to drain the battery as fast as possible. Overall, this test provides a solid look at endurance under duress and heavy use.
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 has a large, 4450 mAh battery. Given that this battery is considerably larger than the Nexus 7 (2013)’s 3950 mAh battery, we weren’t surprised to see that the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 earned a top spot in our comparison chart with an AnTuTu battery test score of 562.
Samsung rates the battery life of the tablet at up to 11 hours of use. In the real world, you should be able to get through a full day without any issues. Users who don’t demand a lot from the tablet may see multiple days of use from a single charge. Obviously, battery longevity varies depending on how you use the tablet and screen brightness so your mileage will vary.
Keeping in mind that Samsung didn’t design the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 to be a flagship, ultra-powerful device, we feel this tablet performed adequately for its intended use. With that said, there’s one key aspect of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 that holds us back and that’s the price. The 16GB version of Google’s new Nexus 7 sells for $229 which is a full $50 less than the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. To make matters worse for the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, the new Nexus 7 has a higher-resolution display, additional RAM, and a faster processor. Given these two options, we’d be hard pressed to choose the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 over the 2013 Nexus 7.
Don’t get us wrong htough, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 has a lot of good things to offer such as excellent battery life, Multi-Window functionality, a microSD card slot (which is absent on the Nexus 7), and a number of Galaxy Perks that help sweeten the deal, but at the end of the day the whole package is what matters. If you place a high value some of these extras that come with the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, then this could be the tablet for you.
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is also available in gold.
Loyal Samsung users who are drawn to the Galaxy Tab 3 but want a tablet with higher specifications should consider Samsung’s Galaxy Note series, keeping in mind that faster processors and other high-end specifications will cost some extra cash.
With the holidays fast approaching, we’re hoping Samsung and various retailers will consider dropping the price of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 to make the tablet more attractive in today’s ultra-competitive market. If so, this could be a great tablet to pick up as a gift for someone already familiar with Samsung's unique take on Android.