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?

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Pick it up for the first time, and you can see this is where the love has gone. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is actually thinner and more svelte than its smaller brother the Tab 3 7.0.

It's a joy to pick up, and when you handle the whole range together, the 8-inch tablet starts to make sense. The 10.1 feels large and ungainly, the 7.0 is hobbled by a fat and rounded design, while the 8.0 nails both categories, and it's clear that the attention placed on smaller tablets is only going to intensify.

With dimensions of just 209.8 x 123.8 x 7.4mm, it's a slim device with the iPad mini in its sights. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is only 2mm thicker.

Galaxy Tab 3 8 0
Only a tiny bit thicker than an iPad mini

Samsung has fitted a 1,280 x 800 panel to this tablet. The resolution itself isn't an issue, and the visuals are sharp and crisp. Viewing photos is a triumph, and we found the panel to produce vibrant colours, and is definitely a step up from the previous generation of Tab 2s.

It's not an unblemished performance, and with a pixel density of just 187ppi we're not blown away by the clarity, especially when there are devices on the market pushing into 300ppi and beyond. Compared with the likes of the Google Nexus 10 and iPad 4, the softness of icons, text and apps is tangible.

Extra food for thought, however, is that the Asus-built new Nexus 7 released in August packs in a full HD 1,920 x 1,200 screen which boasts a whopping 323ppi. This blows the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 out of the water, while offering a saving of £80.

Sticking with hardware, under the hood is a Samsung Exynos 4412 dual-core 1.5GHz processor. We were pretty surprised when we found out that Samsung was only packing a dual-core chip on this third generation tablet, and there's a clear gulf in performance.

When you consider that this year will see the emergence of Tegra 4 and even the Galaxy S4 packed an octo-core processor, finding the Tab 3 running dual-core is perplexing.

Galaxy Tab 3 8 0
Headphone port at the top, microUSB at the bottom

Connectivity is exactly as you'd expect for a tablet, with microsUSB the only port, located at the bottom under the home screen. We're pleased to report that microSD is supported, with enables you to upgrade your storage by up to 64GB. As the Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.0 only ships with 16GB of storage, the microSD support is essential.

The presence of an IR blaster on the Tab 3 range means you can use your tablet as a universal remote control, so it's compatible with TVs and devices, should you want to control them with your tablet.

Interface and performance

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 ships with Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean OS, so anyone with designs on getting the latest Android 4.3 update will be disappointed. However, Samsung devices have moved so far away from the notion of stock Android that it's a fairly moot point.

The OS is daubed in Samsung's own TouchWiz interface, offering the distinctive Samsung Galaxy look that's become synonymous with this family of devices. Samsung's home-brew interface looked a bit naff a few years back, but it's been well-honed for a decent and slick user experience. With the emphasis on widgets and a large dock at the bottom for apps, it's extremely visual and usable.

It's really a matter of taste, but we still feel that stock Android has the aesthetic edge compared to TouchWiz. The splashes of 'my first tablet' primary colours combine to make the operating system look a little dated, but it still gets the job done well.

Galaxy Tab 3 8.0

The keyboard was a bugbear of ours, and despite the larger screen, the buttons are fiddly, small, and the whole thing is ugly.

It even had an annoying habit of popping over text we were trying to input, and there's no way of minimising the keyboard if it does appear needlessly – infuriating is an understatement.

However, while TouchWiz is maturing into a decent Android skin, Samsung's inclusion of a meagre dual-core processor has hobbled the Tab 3 8.0's performance dramatically.

The poor performance wasn't limited to the technical world of benchmark testing. Lethargy was evident during multitasking, and heavy duty tasks such as gaming. It's largely down to the processor not having the cores to handle all of the demands on the system.

Gaming was particularly tough on the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, and the relatively basic Stick Cricket highlighted some short-fallings in the game. It was actually a little hard to play, as the frame-rate dropped at key moments, and it's clear that the Samsung-built Exynos processor struggled at peak loads.

It's evident as you navigate TouchWiz, with a lack of snappiness loading and closing apps, and there was an occasional stuttering on pressing the home screen button.

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
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Package Contents
  • Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 (Wi-Fi)
  • AC Adapter