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.