Samsung didn’t just release a 10.1-inch version of its Galaxy Tab 3 as they released their latest tablet in an 8.0 and 7.0 version. Along with the 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab 3 we were lent for our review, Samsung also supplied us with the 8-inch version. Both tablets have many similarities, but ultimately, we wanted to treat both products as their own version considering how many people would be looking at either Galaxy Tab 3 to potentially purchase.
One of the most obvious differences between the 10.1-inch and 8.0-inch variants are its size. Aside from that, the 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3 features a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1.5GB of RAM, is available with either 16GB or 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot, a 5MP rear-facing camera, 1.3MP front-facing camera and a 4,450mAh battery. Some of the specs are an improvement over the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, while others are slightly under, but for the most part, both the 10.1-inch and 8-inch variants are very similar.
Will the 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3 perform better than the ho-hum 10.1-inch version? There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by continuing on with our review.
8-inch tablets have certainly taken off ever since they were introduced several months ago as they’re able to offer a full tablet experience, but in a smaller frame. These tablets are even easier to carry than a full tablet, especially with one hand, but the downside of 8-inch tablets is they tend to not be as powerful as a full-sized tablet.
With that said, I’ll try not to focus too much on the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0’s internal specs, especially comparing them with a full-sized tablet. Instead, I’ll be focusing on its portability, ease of use, and anything else that makes this a tablet that is worth your hard-earned dollars.
Display Size: 8.0
Display Resolution: 1280 x 800
Display Type: WXGA scLCD
Processor: 1.5GHz dual-core CPU
Storage: 16GB / 32GB
MicroSD: Yes > up to 64GB
Battery Capacity: 4450mAh
Rear-Facing Camera: 5MP
Front-Facing Camera: 1.3MP
Dimensions: 123.6mm x 209.8mm x 7.3mm
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 features many of the same design as the 10.1-inch variant, which borrows its design from a number of Samsung’s smartphones, including the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note devices. The front of the Tab 3 features an 8-inch display which has a black bezel surrounding it at different sizes, measuring in at ½ an inch on the sides and about 1 inch on the bottom and top. The top bezel houses the Tab 3’s front-facing camera, an ambient light sensor and Samsung’s logo, while the bottom bezel is where you’ll find the tablet’s physical home button and a capacitive back and menu button.
The rear of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 features a plastic shell, similar to what is available on their Galaxy S4, complete with small mesh coating. If you aren’t a fan of Samsung’s plastic smartphone shell, then you probably won’t be a fan of the Tab 3’s shell as it’s pretty much identical and feels the same when the tablet is held. At the top-left portion of the rear, you’ll find the Tab 3’s 5MP rear-facing camera, and in the middle towards the top is where Samsung’s logo is displayed.
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 features an aluminum outline with each side housing some kind of button, slot or port. Starting at the top, you’ll find the 3.5mm headphone jack, the right side is where the Tab 3’s power, volume rocker, and IR port can be found. The bottom is where the Tab 3’s microUSB port is available, and at its sides, you’ll find two speakers. Finally, the left side of the tablet is where you’ll find its microSD slot, which supports cards up to 64GB.
The display on the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is a WXGA “super clear” LCD which runs on a resolution of 1280 x 800. Overall, the display is able to produce some nice visuals when view high-resolution images, although there’s certainly some detail missing in high-res images due to the pretty much standard resolution of 8-inch tablets. It isn’t noticeable unless you’ve work with higher-resolution tablets or notebooks, so we’re sure many of you will enjoy the performance of the Galaxy Tab 3’s display.
While viewing the display outdoors on a sunny day, I was able to make out the content on the screen easily at around 80% – 90% of its full brightness. The automatic dimmer was also able to make the screen just bright enough where I could easily read content, watch videos and view images without any issues.
In our industrial design portion of this review, we mention at the right side of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, there’s an IR blaster port, which allows you to use the tablet as a universal remote control. The Peel Smart Remote application is included with the Tab 3 8.0 and doesn’t simply allow you to turn on your TV or change our channels through the tablet, but it also serves as a hub for all of your content. You can keep tabs on when your favorite shows are playing, receive recommendations based on your likes, and schedule reminders so your tablet automatically changes to a channel at a particular date and time so you don’t miss your show.
Considering how many products Samsung has in our homes these days, the company has taken it upon themselves to allow their devices to connect with one another, which is what the Samsung Link application does. You’ll be able to wirelessly access your photos, music, videos and documents across multiple Samsung devices, making it easy to access them all no matter what you’re working on. The application also makes it possible to stream content located on your mobile devices to your Samsung HDTV, and the app can even allow you to upload your content automatically, so you’ll always be able to view your latest content without having to worry to upload them.
Samsung’s S Translator was first introduced in its Galaxy S4, and has since made its way to a number of other Samsung mobile products, including the Galaxy Tab 3 tablets. If you’re unfamiliar with S Translator, it really is a neat application as it can allow you to have an entire conversation without knowing the language the other person is speaking. S Translator can translate in text or even speak for you, just in case you come across a language where your accent is hard to understand.
The virtual keyboard that’s included on the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is identical to its 10.1 variant, which was improved to resemble the keyboard included in the Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S4. We’ve been big fans of Samsung’s latest virtual keyboard offering, especially since it features Swiftkey support, which means you’ll be able to input your text simply by swiping your finger across the keys you’d like to have typed in.
Facebook’s Android application supports a wide variety of devices that have multiple screen sizes, although the larger the screen, the more you realize they’ve just tweaked their mobile app to support larger screens. On the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, Facebook looks really good, as it typically does on 8-inch tablets. Images, videos and other content published on your timeline all look very good and the overall browsing experience was very responsive.
At this point in our reviews, we don’t think we need to introduce you to Google Maps as it’s been the go-to mapping service for millions of users across the world. As is expected, the experience of Google Maps on the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is as good as it’s always been. You’ll be able to view your current location, look up points of interest, services, and receive turn-by-turn navigation. If you are considering the 3G version of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, then you’ll be able to enjoy turn-by-turn navigation while on the go, but if you’re getting the Wi-Fi version, you can still receive turn-by-turn navigation, as long as you load it up prior to your trip.
The video player the Galaxy Tab 3 uses is a standard video player with oversized controls, making it easier to pause, rewind or fast forward on its 10.1-inch display. While a video is playing, you can perform a number of different options, such as improving the sound quality using Dolby technology, wirelessly playing it on supported devices and launching the video in a picture-in-picture mode that allows you to multitask while it plays over whatever else you like to do.
For the purpose of our gaming test, we played two games that would help gauge just how well the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 while playing a game that pushes it to its limits, and another game that would be considered more of a casual game. We tested the Tab 3 8.0 by playing Candy Crush Saga and Dungeon Hunter 4, which we feel are two games that can gauge just how well the tablet would perform while playing games. While playing Candy Crush Saga, the Tab 3 8.0 performed flawlessly, as expected. Unfortunately, playing Dungeon Hunter 4 seemed to have been too much for the tablet as we weren’t even able to get to the main menu without the game completely hanging.
Samsung placed two speakers at the bottom of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 about one inch away from its microUSB port. When playing music or videos, we noticed the speakers favored high ranges more so than mid and low ranges, meaning you’ll hear a more tinny sound as the sound will lack any real depth or bass.
If you hold the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 in its landscape mode, your hands will most likely cover one of the speakers as they’ll be right where your hand lands on the tablet’s right side. Keep that in mind if you’re going to listening to a lot of music through the tablet’s speakers, although considering how it performed, we’d recommend you listen on a pair of headphones or a bluetooth speaker.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 features a 5MP main camera, which is already an improvement over the 10.1 variant as it comes with a 3.2MP main camera. We were extremely impressed with what Samsung offered in both the hardware and software of the Galaxy S4’s camera, so we’re hoping to see a somewhat similar experience with the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 already beats out the 10.1 variant just based on its camera application, which contains many of the features found in the Galaxy S4’s camera application. You can select from multiple modes, including Auto, Beauty Face, Sound & Shot, Panorama, Sports and Night. The selection isn’t as vast as the camera application on some other Galaxy devices, but considering the 10.1 variant featured a completely stripped down camera application, this is a substantial improvement.
The camera application also has a timer, remote viewfinder support, voice control, and can even limit the size of videos to be sent at an email-friendly size. The video recording also has Samsung’s pause feature, making it possible to pause your recording if you feel your creation requires something like that.
For the purpose of our photo and video quality test, we put both Galaxy Tab 3’s up against one another to see who can deliver a better quality image and video: the Tab 3 8.0 or the Tab 3 10.1.
Both the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and 10.1 took their photos indoors on a sunny day, and as you can see by the images above, the 8.0 completely blows the 10.1’s camera out of the water. There’s a lot more definition, better color and an overall sharper image when compared to the 10.1’s image.
As for the video quality test, we took a 5 second video with both devices and the results reflect what we learned from our photo test. The Tab 3 8.0’s 5MP is very good, considering it’s on an 8-inch tablet.
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 features a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, which is slightly slower than the 10.1 variant that is made by Intel, although it has more RAM at 1.5GB. Samsung doesn’t disclose the chip maker of the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0’s CPU, although if it’s an Intel chip, we can expect a similar performance to the 10.1 variant. So let’s take a look at what the Tab 3 8.0 is capable of in our performance benchmarks.
Antutu 3.x is an overall system performance benchmark which takes into account everything an Android device has to offer, including its CPU, GPU, and storage. The majority of Android devices tend to fall into a comparable performance footprint, which means unless you need to do something very specific with your device, like gaming, then you can expect a similar performance across the board.
Our assumption of the chip being manufactured by Intel looks to have been incorrect as the 1.5GHz dual-core processor in the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 isn’t as powerful as the 10.1 variant. In fact, it scored nearly 10,000 less than how the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 scored as the Tab 3 8.0 came in at a score of 10272. Considering this is an 8-inch tablet, we didn’t expect its performance to be amazing, but we also didn’t expect it to score this low as it’s less powerful than the Galaxy Note 2 and just about as powerful as the LG Optimus G.
GLBenchmark 2.7 was designed to stress the Android device’s graphics processor by running a game-like demo which features a fight between various characters in a number of different environments.
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 didn’t perform very well in our GLBenchmark 2.5 test either as it scored a total of 16fps. At that range, we think you should keep into consideration the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 may not be able to keep up with really demanding games or applications that require a strong GPU.
As important as it is to gauge how well a device performs based on benchmarks, we also like to make a note on how a device’s perceived performance is. For the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, we didn’t notice any lagging when opening or using any applications. We did notice, however, it would take numerous downward strokes to bring down the pull-down menu on a number of occasions, although it didn’t happen often.
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 features a 4450mAh battery, which considering the size of the tablet, is a pretty decent size. For the battery portion of our test, we run three separate tests to help gauge just how it’ll perform in the real world.
For our moderate usage test, we take note of how fast the battery drains while performing light tasks on the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. In this case, I corresponded to some emails, browsed Facebook, read some news stories, and performed some other small tasks for an hour. I also had the tablet’s brightness set to 50% without the assistance of its automatic dimming. Once my time was up, I noticed a 14% drop in its battery, which means you can expect over 7 hours of battery life under these conditions.
We know many of you will perform a number of tasks that will be considered moderate usage tasks, but we also know there are many of you who will stream videos on your tablets until your eyes can’t take any more streaming goodness. That’s why for our second test, we push the limits of the Tab 3 8.0’s battery by streaming a 1080p video on it for an hour with its battery set to 50%, once again making sure it isn’t automatically dimmed. At the end of the hour, I noticed a drop of 16%, which means you can expect close to 6 ½ hours of battery life under these conditions.
How long a battery lasts is very important when it comes to tablets or any other mobile device, but one area we also like to gauge is just how long it’ll take for a device to charge its battery. For this test, we had the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 charging for an hour with its display turned off. At the end of the hour, we noticed an increase of only 14% in the battery’s charge. If your battery is completely dead, this means you need to have the tablet charging for over 7 hours in order to its battery to be filled. This is a pretty slow rate, so if you are considering the Tab 3 8.0, keep in mind you’ll most likely need to have it charging overnight in order to get it completely filled.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 has a number of pros and cons when compared to the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. On one hand, it isn’t as powerful, its display isn’t as nice and its speakers offer an overall tinny audio experience. On the other hand, the hardware and software performance of its camera blows the 10.1’s camera out of the water, it’s more portable and it has better battery life.
We honestly believe both tablets are geared towards different people, so if you’re the kind of person who wants the most powerful tablet in a small frame, you shouldn’t be looking at the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 as it’ll leave you disappointed. But if you’re looking for an 8-inch tablet that will allow you to keep up with your emails, browse Facebook and take photos with, then the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is a pretty good choice, although it certainly isn’t the best. That crown would still have to go to the Nexus 7 (2013) at the moment.