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?

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 review
Another Samsung tab, another average result

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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

The default browser isn't Chrome

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.


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.