Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3 Review: Rugged, Feature-Rich And Compact

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3: Solid Tablet Performance And Ruggedness In The Field

galaxy tab active3 4
First announced back in September, we've now gotten a chance to test drive the new Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3. Samsung's new Android slate manages to fill a rather specific niche for those that require the versatility of small tablet, but also need something that is rugged enough to be used outdoors and won’t be affected if it takes a quick dip. The Galaxy Tab Active3 meets these requirements while also boasting support for touch input with gloved hands, which is plus for some the market segments that Samsung is targeting with this tablet.

We took a look at the Galaxy Tab Active Pro in June but the Tab Active3 is dialed-up even more robustly, perhaps. Samsung sees the Galaxy Tab Active3 as the perfect companion for field-based employees and first responders that are typically gloved-up during the day. A tablet for the new normal perhaps? Let's take a closer look... 

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3 Design, Display And Features

Design wise, the Galaxy Tab Active3 is a rather dramatic departure from most premium tablets you find on the market. Rather than having a body that is made from aluminum, Samsung's rugged tablet instead is constructed of more forgiving (and durable) high density plastic. However, this plastic construction by no means feels cheap and has a nice low gloss sheen with smooth edges and textured finish on the back.

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Speaking of the back, it hides a rarity when it comes to modern tablets. The entire back cover can be pulled off to reveal the device's battery. Yes, the Galaxy Tab Active3's battery is completely removable, which is a boon for when you're out in the field far away from an electrical outlet. If you have a second battery on hand, swapping out an exhausted power plant can be accomplished in under 30 seconds. The battery has a capacity of 5050 mAh and is rated to last up to 11 hours per charge (solely when playing video according to Samsung). There’s also access to the combo microSDXC slot on the top left-hand side of the tablet in its standard configuration.

Galaxy Tab Active3
Specifications & Features
Processing Samsung Exynos 9810 
Display 8.0” WUXGA (1920 x 1200) PLS TFT LCD
Memory 4GB LPDDR4x
Storage 64GB UFS 2.1 + microSD
Rear-Facing Cameras 13MP AF f/1.9, LED Flash
Front-Facing Cameras 5MP f/2.2
Video Recording UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) @30fps
Battery 5050 mAh
OS Android 10 With Samsung One UI 2
Dimensions 126.8 x 213.8 x 9.9mm
Weight 426 grams w/o protective case
Connectivity 802.11ax Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, USB-C, 4G LTE
Colors Black
Pricing Find the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3 @ Amazon, Starting at $489
However, most people won’t be using the Galaxy Tab Active3 in this standard configuration, as a protective case is included in the box that bulks up the tablet’s dimensions and allows it to withstand drops from 1.5 meters, while adding IP68 water/dust resistance rating and MIL-STD-810H certification. The protective case also includes a silo at the top for the chunky S Pen, which is also IP68 certified. Adding the case, however, blocks access to the microSD slot, although you can still access the Tab Active3's accessory dock, all buttons, and USB-C port.

The Galaxy Tab Active3 is a relatively small device, which is the result of its 8-inch display. This is a standard TFT display, and not one of Samsung's Super AMOLED displays that you'd find on its premium consumer tablets and smartphones. It has a resolution of 1920x1200 and is highly readable both indoors and outdoors (which is likely to be where it is used most often). However, even with the display brightness cranked up to the maximum, reflections on this glossy panel can get a bit annoying a times when outdoors.

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The Galaxy Tab Active3's glossy display can cast reflections in daylight use.

In practice, this thicket S Pen is more comfortable in my hands to write with than the thinner S Pen found in devices like the Galaxy Note 20. Its larger size also comes in handy when used with gloved hands, which is a typical usage scenario that Samsung envisions for the Galaxy Tab Active3.

Galaxy Tab Active 3 Performance, Benchmarks, and Battery Life

On the performance front, the Galaxy Tab Active3 isn't likely to win any drag races given its choice of processor. Samsung is employing its own Exynos 9810, which was first introduced in global market Galaxy S9 smartphones back in 2019. The Exynos 9810 is paired with just 4GB of RAM, which isn't exactly going to be setting hearts ablaze considering that today's flagship smartphones can now be equipped with four times that amount. Looking at the Geekbench 5 numbers below, you’ll see that the Exynos 9810 can’t hold a candle to today’s flagship Android SoCs, but is more than a match for mid-range devices featuring the Snapdragon 765G.

However, the Galaxy Tab Active3 proved to handle just fine in everyday workloads, and we had no issues with lag or stuttering animations when navigating through the Android 10-powered Samsung One UI 2. Apps opened quickly and overall performance was admirable from the spunky little tablet. As for battery life, this Android slate features a 5050 mAh battery, which is about the same size as a typical flagship Android smartphone.  It managed to last 11 hours and 42 minutes during our PC Mark Work 2.0 battery life test.

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3
 Benchmark Performance
GeekBench 5
687 (Single-core), 2015 (Multi-core) 
PC Mark Work 2.0
5792
AnTuTu 8
310850
3D Mark Slingshot Extreme Limited
4284

samsung galaxy tab active3 geekbench5
Storage comes in at a relatively paltry 64GB, but the aforementioned microSDXC slot should come in handy for expanding storage, should that need arrive. Samsung says that the Galaxy Tab Active3 can accommodate microSDXC cards up to 1TB in size, which should be more than enough for most needs.

It's a similar story with the cameras included on the tablet; they won't blow you away with their performance, but they get the job done. There's a single camera on the back: a 13MP sensor with an f/1.9 lens, along with an 5MP f/2.2 selfie camera.

galaxy tab active3 outback
Tablets aren't exactly your go-to device for photography these days, but the images obtained from camera are totally serviceable, if you need to grab a quick picture in the field.

Galaxy Tab Active3 Review Summary And Pricing

Overall, we came away generally impressed with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab Active3’s abilities, from its versatile S Pen to its go anywhere ruggedness. While you can use this tablet sans its protective case (which makes it even more portable and easier to hold), we appreciate that Samsung includes the case in the box. Its included silo also serves as a perfect holstering place for the S Pen. The Tab Active3's Exynos 9810 processor is by no means a speed demon, but for its intended purpose, it should provide solid performance for its target market and even handle a bit of light gaming on the side.

In another added benefit, the Galaxy Tab Active3 supports Samsung DeX, which is a PC-like operating environment that is initialized when you hook the tablet up to a supported monitor. You can read more about Samsung DeX in our Galaxy Tab S7+ review.

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The only major limiting factor of the Galaxy Tab Active3 comes is when it comes to the currently Android tablet app ecosystem, which is not really Samsung’s fault. Google hasn’t really focused a lot on tablet-optimized apps for Android, which means that app developers haven’t made it a priority either. So, while the Galaxy Tab Active3 features a much larger display than most Android smartphones, most apps look more like blown up smartphone versions than like something that was optimized for a tablet form factor and use case.

Pricing of the Samsung Galaxy Tab Active3 is par for the course in this segment, starting at $489.99 for the 4GB RAM / 64GB storage Wi-Fi configuration. If you want 4G LTE connectivity, that will add $100 to the price tag. This pricing places the Tab Active3 just north of competing iPad mini models, but you have to remember that these Apple tablets don't have a rugged exterior, expandable storage, user-replaceable battery, or come standard with a stylus and support for Samsung's excellent S Pen. 

Overall, we feel that the Galaxy Tab Active3 is another solid entry from Samsung in the arena of rugged tablet. Just be sure to temper your expectations when it comes to flagship performance and truly tablet-worthy applications. For first responders, field workers and outdoor types alike, however, it's a very solid option.  


 

 
 
  • MIL-STD-810G rated
  • Included protective case and S Pen stylus
  • Punchy 1920x1200 display is glove ready
  • Competitive pricing
  • Optional 4G LTE connectivity
  • Dated processor
  • Android 10 OS
  • Rugged case is tough to get on and off
  • Un-optimized Android apps for tablets
 

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