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Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 review

Samsung adds an eight-incher to its Tab line-up, but can it beat the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini?

Our Verdict

With the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, Samsung has delivered below-par build quality, poor performance and an unattractive plasticky case and then slapped on a price tag that means it costs more than an iPad Mini. It's hard to find any reason to recommend this particular Tab.

Product features

  • Screen Resolution : 1280 x 800
  • Processor Core : Dual-core (2 Core)
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 5 Megapixel

View full specification

For

  • Slim build
  • Decent screen
  • Excellent battery life

Against

  • Performance issues
  • Plasticky design
  • Unjustified high price

In terms of connectivity, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is Wi-fi only, which is bad news for those looking for LTE or 3G data on the go. Of course, this premium feature so anyone needing this type of connectivity is served by the Galaxy Note 8.0.

Unsurprisingly, the stock Android browser is used here, and while we're still perplexed about why Chrome isn't the default, the Android one is slick and useable.

Galaxy Tab 3 8.0

There are a few niggles, with some web pages rendered full screen, so they're not legible without zooming in. Some sites don't load in mobile version, but others do.

One example of this was the BBC site, which looked great with big clear text. Words aren't quite as sharp as other tablets, such as the Nexus 7, but still highly readable.

Pinching and zooming was speedy, with zero rendering times, although scrolling was a little jerky and nowhere near as smooth as the iPad. This comes back to the lack of processing power and graphical ability, and possibly some inefficiencies in the stock Android browser too.

Flash is supported, however, something that long-term iPad users have probably learned to live without, and we were able to fire up videos from web sites with ease.

There's also plenty of options too, and pressing Android's context button offers everything from advanced settings, sharing, brightness, printing and offline reading all in one place. That's actually one of the best arrays of tweaks we've seen on a mobile browser.

Overall while the browser has all of these quality features, we can't think of anyone who wouldn't be better served by Google Chrome and its advanced bookmark syncing and superior performance.

Galaxy Tab 3 8.0

While there's a host of options for obtaining digital content these days, Samsung adds its own array of stores to Google's own. In the main they're pretty well stocked, yet poorly designed, and there's no real reason to use them.

An example of the awful design was our experience with Reader Hub, the store for books. Firstly we opened it, and had to go through the sign-up process for a Samsung account before we could browse. Then the app required updating, so we were whisked off to Samsung's own brand app store.

The app seemed to update, before the installation failed because the Tab's settings "blocked apps from 'unknown sources.'" That source was the Samsung app store.

It's not a good performance, yet despite our distain, here's a run down of the different stores.

Video hub

The Video Hub – inexplicably missing on our tablet but a staple of the Tab experience – requires a Samsung account, used across much of its own-brand apps. You also get a free movie download when you sign up, so it's well worth trying out.

While there's plenty of movies on offer, Samsung's own-brand video store doesn't offer anything more than Google Play, and with that service getting a recent overhaul, it's still our go-to movie store.

It saves you the hassle of getting signed up for another paid-for service, although with the work Samsung did around the launch of Jay-Z's new album, we wouldn't be surprised to see Video Hub getting more exclusives in the future.

The video playback experience is good, and our video tests found that both 720p and 1080p were played back well. The resolution may be only 1,280 x 800, but HD movies looked detailed and had smooth, even colours. However, our side-by-side tests showed that the Google Nexus 7's higher resolution panel was noticeably more vibrant.

As you'd expect with an Android tablet, the normal video formats are catered for with H.263, H.264, MPEG4, WMV and DivX all supported. There's Video Player and Music Player, rather than a single media player, which adds to the slightly overwhelming medley of players and stores offered to users.

Music hub

When it comes to music on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, it's a similar story to video in that Samsung has replicated the functionality of Google Music with its own Music Hub.

Music Hub is brimming with choice, there's no doubt about that, but again there's no reason for us to recommend going here, when the convenience of the Google Play store is on-hand.

We also found it painfully slow signing in, when we were able to use the Google Play store within seconds. Google is keenly upgrading its Play store all the time, and it's come on leaps and bound since the beginning of the year, so it's well worth sticking with.

One area Google has innovated its store is through Google Play Music, where you can not only purchase tracks but upload your existing record collection into the cloud. You can also get Spotify-like features free for 30 days and £7.99 thereafter.

While there's no beating a pair of proper headphones, sound quality on the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is passable. They're arranged in a stereo configuration occupying the bottom edge of the tablet.

Books

Samsung provides its Readers Hub by default on the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, or you can use Google Play Books and Google Play Magazines for all your reading needs – again, we recommend the latter.

We're not fans of reading books on tablets, as the harsh backlighting makes long sessions uncomfortable, but if you do like to sit down with your tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is a good option. The physical size is great for reading and the screen is sharp enough to be clearly legible.

Tech Specs

Product TypeTablet
Green CompliantYes
Flash Memory Capacity16 GB
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
Optical Drive TypeNo
GPSYes
Product FamilyGalaxy Tab 3
Front Camera/WebcamYes
Operating System PlatformAndroid
ColourPearl White
Operating SystemAndroid 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
Brand NameSamsung
Form FactorSlate
Processor Speed1.50 GHz
Screen Size20.3 cm (8")
Screen Resolution1280 x 800
Standard Memory1.50 GB
Weight (Approximate)314 g
Processor CoreDual-core (2 Core)
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityWEEE
Memory Card ReaderYes
TouchscreenYes
Display Screen TypeActive Matrix TFT Colour LCD
Wireless LAN StandardIEEE 802.11a/b/g/n
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 4.0
Multi-touch ScreenYes
Rear Camera Resolution5 Megapixel
Height209.8 mm
Width123.8 mm
Depth7.4 mm
Screen ModeWXGA
ManufacturerSamsung
Product ModelSM-T310
Product NameGalaxy Tab 3 8.0 (Wi-Fi)
Product LineGalaxy Tab 3
Aspect Ratio16:10
Manufacturer Part NumberSM-T3100ZWABTU
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
Marketing InformationIt's a whole new world with the GALAXY Tab 3 at your fingertips. Slimmer, narrower and with a thinner bezel, this new and improved Tab offers incredible grip for easy handling on the go. It's lighter, too, even though it doesn't skimp on performance. In fact, the Tab features a powerful Dual Core processor, dual cameras. You'll also enjoy more apps from Samsung and Google, and free 50 GB worth of Dropbox Storage. It just doesn't get any better than that!

Slimmer for a Comfortable Fit in the Hand
You will feel secure when grasping the GALAXY Tab 3 in your palm. Slimmer and narrower, the new GALAXY TAB 3 is a better fit, while the thinner bezel ensures you have more screen to touch and operate to your advantage. Lighter to boot, the new GALAXY Tab 3 puts your comfort at the forefront.

Useful Device with Up-to-date Technology
This Tablet doesn't shy away from power. Equipped with a 1.2GHZ Dual Core Processor, it can handle just about anything you ask it to do - smoothly, quickly and expertly. Enjoy the convenience of two cameras (3 MP/1.3 MP) for video chatting, taking shots of others or even perfectly-framed photos of yourself. Web browsing has never been easier, quicker or more reliable with the Channel Bonding connections. Surf away and enjoy fast and easy data transfers.

Absolutely unlimited entertainment
Video Hub is your personal video store concierge -- 1.000+ titles and counting -- with virtually no wait time during progressive downloads so that you can enjoy video contents right away. Forget lugging around stacks of books, For your best convenience and satisfaction, Music Hub provides a full music store loaded with your favorite tunes. Game Hub, your go-to source for premium and multi-player games, lets you jump into action any time, wherever you are.

Dropbox - 50GB free
Enjoy 50 GB worth of free Dropbox storage for 2 years. This enables storage of all files that are accessible directly on your mobile and anywhere else there is an internet connection.

More voice & messaging options
Engage in spur-of-the-moment, group video sessions with Google+ Hangouts, as easily as bumping into somebody on the street. ChatON connects your friends and acquaintances across devices and platforms in a more expressive, dynamic way with unique features like Group Chat, Multimedia Transmission, Buddy Interaction and more.
Package Contents
  • Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 (Wi-Fi)
  • AC Adapter