New Delhi: The arrival of Apple's 7.9-inch iPad mini last year added another size to the ongoing tablet wards. As expected Samsung came in with its similarly sized competitor. The South Korean tech giant, which was quite active in the 7-inch and 10-inch tablet markets, came up with an answer to Apple's smaller iPad with the launch of its first 8-inch tablet, Galaxy Note 8.0 (Note 510 in India), in February this year.
Riding on the success of its Galaxy tablets and to get a respectable place in the 8-inch tablet market, Samsung added new 8-inch tablets to its portfolio under the name Galaxy Tab 3. We got the high-end variant of the Galaxy Tab 3 (SM-T311) to review.
Compared to Samsung's 7-inch devices, the Galaxy Tab 3 has a slightly bigger display, slimmer profile and an improved form factor, but it looks a little similar to other members of the already highly populated Galaxy family. Taking design cues from the Galaxy S4 smartphone, the tablet has an aluminium band which runs along the edges of the device and gives it a premium look. Made of polycarbonate, the tablet is slim at 7.4mm and is also light in weight.
The rounded edges make it easier to hold the tablet with both hands, but if you are holding this 8-inch tablet with a single hand stretching across the back from one end to the other, it becomes a pain after a while. It was certainly not comfortable reading an ebook on this tablet. We usually hold smartphones with a single hand, but reading an ebook on this 8-inch tablet while holding it with a single hand was quite uncomfortable that I switched back to my smartphone within 10 minutes and continued reading on my phone. And reading ebooks holding a device with both hands, isn't how ebooks are meant to be read. This is where an 8-inch tablet takes away the comfort and is trumped by a 7-inch tablet.
The Galaxy Tab 3 has a non-removable back. Therefore, the microSD card and SIM card slots are located on the left side of the device. The rear of the device has a dotted pattern underneath the glossy coating, which adds to aesthetics and makes the rear of the device look refined. Also the back is not prone to scratches. I used the device for almost two weeks, but the tablet did not catch even a single scratch during the period.
I think it's time when Samsung did away with the physical home button flanked by two capacitive buttons on the front. The full touch experience seems so much better.
The Galaxy Tab 3 has an 8-inch (1280 x 800) display, which produces rich colours, but the white on the tablet is not snow white; it has a slight yellowish tint. While the text on the screen is readable but it is not very crisp. Like other Samsung tablets, the touchscreen is responsive and it is smooth to swipe across the screen.
It was quite comfortable to view content on the screen from any angle. The screen is reflective, but I could still comfortably read content under sunlight.
The tablet runs Android 4.2.2 with Samsung's Touchwiz layer atop. The tablet has the same old UI and includes gimmicky apps like Story album and Group Play. I created an album using the Story Album feature, but was not impressed with the final result. At times while performing certain tasks, I felt the need of a stylus; may be Samsung should have included a stylus.
The multi-window feature on the device, which lets you view two apps at once is a good feature, but it is not something that we have not seen on other devices.
It is a 3G + WiFi device which means you can not only have access to the Internet via WiFi, but you can also access the Web from anywhere, any time. The tablet also lets you make calls, but even then it is a weird idea to make such a bulky device a replacement for your phone. A full-fledged communication device today needs to be portable and easy to carry, which a tablet can never be. An 8-inch, or in fact a 7-inch tablet, can never replace your smartphone. Thus, calling on the tablet is not something you should get attracted to.
Talking about its camera, both the 5-megapixel back camera and 1.3-megapixel rear camera can capture quality pictures under good lighting conditions, but in low light areas, both cameras fails to impress. Having a great rear camera on a tablet does not make much difference as the size of the tablet doesn't make it a comfortable device to snap pictures. The tablet can record 720p videos, but it can play 1080p videos.
Powered by a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor coupled with 1.5GB RAM, the tablet did not linger while performing tasks, but there was a slight lag while switching between different apps. Its battery life is truly impressive. On a single charge, the tablet has enough juice to survive for over a day. In our continuous video playback test, its 4450 mAh battery lasted for around 9 hours and I could easily watch four full-length feature films back to back. And on normal usage, this full charged Tab 3 easily lasted for over a day. The stereo speakers located on the bottom of the tablet are loud and produce clear results. The Galaxy Tab 3 311 has an internal storage of 16GB and it lets you expand memory and supports a microSD card up to 64GB.
While the ergonomically designed sleek tablet has a lot to offer, but there is nothing to drool over. At Rs 25,500 the tablet is marginally overpriced. It makes to our recommendations list, but there are other options available that we would like you to take a look at while buying a new tablet.
Great battery life
Slight lag during multitasking
Display: 8-inch (1280 x 800) (189 ppi)
Camera: 5MP rear, 1.3MP front
OS: Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean)
Processor: 1.5 GHz dual-core processor
Dimension(HxWxD): 209.8 x 123.8 x 7.4mm
Weight: 316 gms
Internal memory: 16GB
External memory slot: MicroSD (up to 64GB)
Standard Battery: 4,450mAh