This 7-inch slate has a PLS panel (Samsung's version of IPS) with 1024 x 600-pixel resolution. The biggest risk Samsung is taking with the 8- and 10.1-inch models is the 1.6 GHz Intel Atom Clover Trail dual-core processor, but that risk doesn't apply here. For this 7-inch model, Samsung used a 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex A9 dual-core, a system-on-chip whose maker no one seems to know (maybe it's one of Samsung's Exynos processors?). Along with that are 1 GB of RAM and 8 GB of microSD-expandable storage. There are two cameras, with 3 Megapixels on the back and 1.3 Mpx on the front.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is on sale for as low as £140.
Design & Handling
Samsung wants to keep things nice and harmonious in its Galaxy range. It has abandoned the look of the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0, and turned instead to the Galaxy Note 8.0 for inspiration, though the Tab 3 7.0 is more compact and a tad less elegant.
The front is easily recognisable as a Galaxy product. It has the home button in the middle and the usual positions for the rear camera and micro-USB connector... Indeed, the Galaxy concept comes in many shapes and sizes. The finish and manufacturing are top-grade; there's nothing cheap about this slate.
It's an easy tablet to hold in one hand and Samsung has made the borders and entire frame even thinner than before. The screen now takes up 66.6% of the total surface (the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0's took up 58.6%).
The body never grew overly hot while we were using the Galaxy Tab 3, no matter what tasks we threw at it.
The speakers on either side of the micro-USB port are right where your hands land when holding the tablet in landscape mode, making it difficult not to block the sound coming out.
Every year that goes by, Samsung makes progress on its PLS panels, a derivative of the IPS technology found on the great majority of today's touchscreen tablets. But this year is different.
The Galaxy Tab 3 7.0's average contrast ratio has gone down from the Tab 2's 1100:1 to 839:1. The screen brightness is the same as before: 336 cd/m², compared to 330 cd/m² on the second Tab. But that's still high enough to make this slate easy to look at outdoors, even more so with TouchWiz's generous helping of vivid colours to bring out the contrast.
The colour fidelity is similar to last year, with an average Delta E of 5.9, which isn't amazing for the tablet market. (Delta E measures how faithful the colours displayed onscreen are and three and below means perfect accuracy.) The colour temperature of 7,753 K isn't perfect, but it ensures enough consistency to prevent any major overtones. In sum, picture quality aficionados might not be impressed, but the average user should find it more than acceptable.
The Tab 3's 25-millisecond ghosting time falls in the lower average for IPS screens and their derivatives. As for the touch response time, it takes 167 ms for the screen to react to your touch gestures, which is also far from astounding.
Another of this screen's many let-downs is the resolution. Samsung has stuck with 1024 x 600 pixels at a time when all the competing 7-inch tablets use 1280 x 800. As a result, the picture is less precise and detailed around small objects and text than, say, on the Nexus 7 Google released a year ago.
Interface & Navigation
There's no Samsung without TouchWiz, the homebrewed graphical user interface the brand slaps on all of its Android mobile devices to add its own visual flare to the menus, app launcher, shortcut/notification window and icons.
TouchWiz includes exclusive apps such as Video Hub (where you can have your pick of overpriced films with even less selection than Sony Video Unlimited), Game Hub and Music Hub, each of which allows users to download and consume content.
The quick launch bar from the Galaxy Note 8.0 and the latest high-end Samsung smartphones has unfortunately disappeared.
The Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 has acceptable responsiveness, although there are a few lags and hiccups here and there and it's a little slow to react when you hit the home screen button. The virtual keyboard suffers latency at times (see inset below). It appears the processor isn't quite up to the task and that optimising TouchWiz wasn't a priority here. Samsung's GUI takes up most of the system's resources; it's actually a miracle some of the other functions work as well as they do.
This isn't the swiftest tablet to browse the web on (no matter which browser you use), but it's satisfactory. The zoom is extremely fluid, though not very precise for double-tapping, which simply makes it zoom straight into the paragraph without any regard for margins. Better use the "two-finger spread" method.
The 1024 x 600 resolution makes the text legibility just barely acceptable.
As always, video playback is a treat because Samsung used its trusty video player that recognises most of the common media files (with the exception of Full HD movies and MKV, which the player often simply refuses to read).
Video games are not one of the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0's strong suits, at least not any of the big, new 3D video games. The graphics quality isn't very high and you get lags with demanding titles such as Real Racing 3.
With varied usage including frequent e-mails, some video, a few games and a good deal web browsing, the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 lasts 8 hours 45 minutes, on average. Watching movies only adds an extra 15 to 30 minutes. That's fairly good battery life, in the upper average for a tablet.
The rear camera is quite simply mediocre and can't really do much either in photo or video mode. The front webcam will do the job for video conferences, as long as you're in good lighting; otherwise the lags quickly add up.
- Easy handling
- Overall responsiveness
- Battery life
- Virtual keyboard
- TouchWiz slows the tablet down
- Screen resolution
- Mediocre cameras
- Lags here and there
This hesitant successor to the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 was somehow able to underperform its predecessor in almost every respect. The only exceptions are the top-grade design and longer battery life. The Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is a mediocre product that can handle the basics but whose hardware isn't on par with the other models in the Tab 3 range.