- Good battery life
- Weak display
With Samsung looking to create a device suited to nearly every conceivable type of mobile consumer it’s no surprise that we find ourselves in front of the latest revision of the company’s 7-inch Android tablet. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 sits beneath its 8 and 10-inch siblings, as well as its less powerful predecessors and a myriad of S Pen-toting Notes too.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 – Design and screen
Typically the smaller Galaxy Tabs take a back seat with regards to design and the same could be said of the Tab 3 7.0 when compared to its launch partner, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. That’s not to say that it’s ugly by any means, however compared to similarly sized tabs it’s a little weighty both in-hand (at 300g) and around its waistline at 9.9mm thick, taking after the Samsung Galaxy S3’s design style as opposed to that of the newer Galaxy S4.
The white plastic body is soft to the touch, reminiscent of the Hyperglaze finish we first saw on last year’s S3 and despite its surprising weight it’s comfortable to manipulate in one hand. The silver accents on the speakers at the tablet’s base, around the hardware home button and around the rear-facing 3-megapixel camera add a premium finish to the overall look of this small slate.
The display itself is a 7-inch TFT LCD panel with a WSVGA (600×1024) resolution giving it a pretty lacklustre 167ppi pixel density. In practice the display is bright and colourful, but lacks depth and contrast, particularly apparent when looking at darker visuals. The low resolution is noticeable even at natural viewing distances when viewing app icons or fine text, an issue not found on the likes of rival tablets such as the new Google Nexus 7.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 – Operating system and multimedia
Running Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz Nature UX over the top, you’re not getting the most up to date iteration of either Samsung’s overlay or Android itself, but the combination on offer still serves up plenty in the way of functionality and versatility, with an enhanced notifications section littered with quick settings, Google Now and a host of Sammy’s own apps and widgets.
The screen is the weakest part of the multimedia experience, but there’s a wide variety of ways to enjoy video streaming on the Tab 3 from the get-go with apps like Play Videos, YouTube and Samsung Video Hub, not to mention the option to download third-party solutions too. The dual stereo speakers also pump out solid sound levels even if they lack any real bass, but for video content, the fact that a landscape orientation leaves both speakers on one side makes it a little tricky to hold without muffling the sound. We’re also please to see that despite the fairly conservative spec sheet, the Tab 3 7.0 does support Full HD video playback.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 – Connectivity, performance & battery
The Tab 3 7.0 keeps it simple on the connectivity front featuring dual-band WiFi, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0 (with A2DP support) and WiFi Direct functionality, which ties into Samsung Link – Sammy’s solution for pushing media between connected Samsung devices wirelessly. Sadly there’s no IR port and no NFC either.
With regards to storage the 8GB (a 16GB model is also available) of internal memory is somewhat on the restrictive side, but the microSD card on the lower right side of the tab’s body can accommodate cards of up to 64GB in capacity, so there should always be room for your content one way or another.
As Samsung’s entry-level tablet, the hardware under the hood won’t blow you away, but the 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB are just enough to keep that heavy Samsung UI running smoothly (most of the time) and 3D games like Dead Trigger playable too.
A couple of days of fairly heavy use (for a tablet) should be achievable on a single charge from the Tab 3 7.0’s 4000mAh cell which is most likely a result of the less demanding hardware compared to rival devices.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 – Conclusion
At £179, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is a good looking package at first site, but £100 will buy you a significantly more up-to-date Samsung tablet in the form the Tab 3 8.0 and if you’re prepared to pick up a stock Android device than the new Asus-made Nexus 7 offers significantly better hardware and the latest version of Android available for just £20 more.