Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 review: Third time's the charm

GSMArena team, 5 July 2013.
Pages: 12345678910

Tags: Samsung, Android

Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy Tab family was introduced back in 2011, to at least get a foot in the door swung open by the rising Apple iPad. The Tabs came in a variety of sizes and connectivity options with displays ranging from 7 inches all the way to the massive 10.1 inches, and more combos of screen resolution and processor specs than you can shake a stick at.

Just by comparing Samsung's and Apple's lineup, you can see two very different strategies at play - while Apple relies on the exclusivity of their devices and content to garner interest in their products, Samsung instead hopes to cater to every possible market segment under the sun - and has been immensely successful in the process.

It is exactly tablets though, where Samsung have been struggling to match the kind of impact they've had in phones. The latest Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is in a way affected by the shifts in Samsung's tablet strategy. In an ideal world, the Galaxy 3 10.1 would've been the Koreans' flagship slate. But that position is already filled by the Note 10.1, with a successor possibly in the pipeline.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 official photos

So, the Galaxy Tab hasn't got top of the line specs and comes across as a routine upgrade, whose single clear-cut advantage is the latest software version available. The latest Android build, 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, comes with arguably the most feature-rich custom UI from Samsung - TouchWiz 5.0. But how does it stack up to the likes of the iPad 4, or a handful of emerging Android tablets? Let's take a look at the key features at a glance:

Key features

  • 10.1" 16M-color TFT capacitive touchscreen of 800 x 1280 pixel resolution
  • Android OS v4.2.2 with TouchWiz 5.0 launcher
  • 1.6 GHz dual-core Atom CPU, PowerVR SXG544MP2 GPU, 1GB of RAM, Intel Atom Z2560 chipset
  • 3.15 MP wide-angle lens camera with face detection
  • 720p HD video recording at 30fps
  • 16/32GB internal storage, microSD slot
  • Dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n support
  • GPS with A-GPS connectivity; GLONASS support, Digital compass
  • Stereo Bluetooth v4.0
  • microUSB port with USB host, charging
  • Accelerometer, compass
  • Infrared port
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Very slim at only 8mm
  • 1.3MP secondary video-call camera
  • Document viewer and file manager comes preinstalled
  • Extremely rich video and audio codec support
  • 6800 mAh battery

Main disadvantages

  • Many competitors (including the droids) already offer Full HD screens
  • 1GB of RAM tends to run out quickly
  • No FM Radio or NFC support
  • Questionable still image and video recording quality
  • Hardware Home button and capacitive Android keys make little sense at this size
  • Speakers are not front-facing

Given the rather modest spec, including a dual-core processor, compared to some quad-core-powered full-HD-screen-flaunting droid tablets, it's more fitting to look at the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 not as a high end device, but as a midranger with a large screen, aimed at a more price-conscious crowd. This goes in hand with a prominent trend of big screens in the midrange, like the Samsung Galaxy Grand and the Samsung Galaxy Mega.

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 P5200 in our studio

It's clear that while the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 gives you a large 10.1-inch display, it's not the pinnacle of Samsung's tablet lineup - that honor still belongs to the S-pen capable Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Nevertheless, the Tab 3 10.1 offers a compelling connectivity package, and could prove to be an enticing offer in its price range.

We'll get this review rolling on the next page with our usual hardware tour. Next up, we'll be curious to see that new generation dual-core Intel Atom in action, which is a first on a tablet.

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