It’s becoming clear that people love smaller tablets. The Google Nexus 7 and iPad mini are fantastic success stories, and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is Samsung’s latest attempt to capitalise on this popularity. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is a 7-inch screen tablet with a budget price of £179, which makes it slightly less than the £200 new Nexus 7 2 but more than the £130 Asus MeMO Pad 7 HD.
Typical of the Galaxy series phones and tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0’s casing is plastic. It’s shiny, glossy plastic just like rear of the Samsung Galaxy S4 or Galaxy S3.
Unlike Samsung’s phones, though, the rear of the tablet is not removable. This helps to ensure the back doesn’t feel too flimsy. However, there are a few light creaks you can squeeze out if you put pressure on the wrong part of the casing.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is also significantly chunkier than the 2013 Nexus 7, at 10mm thick. However, this gives it a pleasant heft that’s thankfully not accompanied by the same heft in weight. The tablet weighs just over 300g making it – like most 7-inch tablets – light enough to use one-handed.
Some will accuse the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 of feeling a little toy-like. But once you’ve made peace with Samsung’s questionable tablet design style, this feels like a well-made device for something that is – let’s not forget – an entry-level device.
It has a memory card slot, hidden under a plastic flap on the left edge of the tablet. You get 8GB of internal storage as standard, so the card slot is really a necessary addition. Only around half of the internal memory is actually available for you to play with.
As its name suggests, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 has a 7-inch screen. In one respect it’s pretty good – viewing angles are solid – but in most other respects it is poor.
Resolution is very low. It’s a 1,024 x 600 pixel display, with pixel density of 169ppi. That’s far, far lower than the new Nexus 7’s 323ppi.
It’s also lower than the 1,280 x 800 pixel density of the first Nexus 7 and the cheaper Asus MeMO Pad 7 HD. To really show up how poor the screen resolution of the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is – it’s the same resolution as the original Galaxy Tab that was released three years ago.
Given the amount of tech development that has happened over the last three years, continuing to use such a low resolution in 2013 is borderline unacceptable. There’s obvious pixellation, no matter what you’re doing.
You might accuse us of wilfully forgetting the iPad mini, whose first model has the same pixel density as this tablet. But that tablet’s display is of a higher quality, and its larger screen tends to encourage you to hold it further away. Plus we complain about the iPad mini’s limited resolution pretty regularly.
Aside from screen resolution, the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0’s display is let down by its colours, which are not particularly accurate. If you’ve used a decent tablet from the last year, this tablet’s display appears immediately deficient. The one saving grace is that it doesn’t have the drastic contrast shift of older budget tablets.
Pure display quality doesn’t see the end of the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0’s screen problems, either. The panel’s response times are mediocre, resulting in clear ‘trails’ when flicking between home screens or watching high-contrast, high-action content.
And, one of the most serious real-life problems, the tablet’s auto brightness setting is glitchy. At times it sets the screen very dark, to the extent that we can only assume it’s a bug that’ll – fingers crossed – be ironed out with a firmware update. Use manual brightness control and the top brightness is actually pretty good.