Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0

The Hesitant Successor

Our score: 3/5
Reviewed: August 1, 2013 2:15 PM
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Published: August 1, 2013 2:15 PM
By Romain Thuret
Translated by: Hugh Ehreth
Another day, another Galaxy... Samsung is taking its interstellar product line to ever-greater heights by nourishing it with new devices and paying close attention not to lose sight of the winning formula it has found. So here we go with the third instalment of the Galaxy Tab, which comes in three sizes (7", 8" and 10.1"), all running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean along with Samsung's TouchWiz user interface.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - home

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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - edge

Design & Handling4/5


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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - screen

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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - back

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%).

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - more back

The body never grew overly hot while we were using the Galaxy Tab 3, no matter what tasks we threw at it.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - bottom

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.

Display3/5



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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - angle

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 & Navigation3/5



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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - TouchWiz  Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - menu

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.
 
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - landscape

The quick launch bar from the Galaxy Note 8.0 and the latest high-end Samsung smartphones has unfortunately disappeared.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - flipping

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.

Multimedia4/5



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.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - web

The 1024 x 600 resolution makes the text legibility just barely acceptable.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - browse

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).

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 - movie

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.

Battery Life4/5


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.

Camera3/5


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.

3/5 Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 DigitalVersus 2013-08-01 15:15:00

Pros

  • Easy handling
  • Overall responsiveness
  • Battery life
  • Design
  • Virtual keyboard

Cons

  • TouchWiz slows the tablet down
  • Screen resolution
  • Mediocre cameras
  • Lags here and there

Conclusion

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.

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