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Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 (10.1) Review

I’m always optimistic when it comes to reviewing Tablets, regardless of the make and/or model. But let me spare you and get right to it.

Personally, I can’t think of a good reason why you’d want to buy the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. All the 10.1 does is rehash old ideas we’ve seen on on the Tab and Tab 2, many of which should be gone by now.

The Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is simply a slightly larger cut from the Galaxy S4. Obviously that means it’s thin (0.3 inches, actually a hair thinner than the S4) and light, and that it has the physical home button I’ve grown to love. It also means it’s made of slimy, greasy plastic that proudly displays fingerprints and just doesn’t feel good to hold and use. Most owners love the speakers and its bright display and because of its plastic finish is also very light. However, there is also a downside to being made from plastic, and that is a cheap feel that can often creak while playing games for long periods of time.

It’s sturdy and dense, but doesn’t feel premium like the iPad or the Xperia Tablet Z. It does have a microSD card slot for expanding storage beyond the included 32GB, but that’s its only real advantage.

The Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 has a 10.1-inch, 1280 x 800 TFT screen that would be more at home on, well, last year’s Galaxy Tab. Or the Galaxy Note 10.1. Or the Tab 3 8.0, which puts as many pixels in a far smaller display. It’s a decent display, with solid viewing angles and color reproduction, but it’s bested by many others in its class. When so many of Samsung’s other devices have such great screens, and when the company clearly has access to spectacular tablet displays, the lethargic improvements here don’t really make sense.

The Galaxy Tab 3 10.1’s high sticker price should mean it packs in loads of bells and whistles, including, perhaps, a better camera, but it doesn’t. The 3-megapixel rear camera is serviceable: colors are balanced and images are sufficiently detailed, though you won’t be able to set focus. It’s adequate enough to capture action shots from the sidelines (sorry, no burst mode), but it’s not something we’d recommend relying on for your next round of vacation photos. The UI is straightforward too and doesn’t confuse users with an abundance of settings options. You have the ability to add a filter, toggle exposure / white balance and swap to different scene modes. But for the most part, auto mode is good enough. Video recording is much the same and maxes out at 720p. Again, the GTab 3 10.1 shouldn’t be your go-to for any memories in the making. It’s a decent fallback option, but nothing more.

Samsung did make a few hardware tweaks, though, some good and some bad. You don’t need a proprietary charger anymore, since the Tab 3 just needs Micro USB to work — I like that. I don’t like that the speakers have been moved from the front to the sides; they still sound better than I’d expect from a tablet, but they’re much quieter and easier to block than on the Tab 2. Plus, the speakers broke up what is otherwise a pretty drab design, with only the home button and a huge Samsung logo to catch your eye. My review unit was white all over with a silver edge, and there’s an all-black version that’s slightly more eye-catching. For me that is.

With a 6,800mAh battery sealed beneath its plasticky white shell, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is designed to last and last. In all of our time with the tablet, battery life was never a concern. Left to idle with slight to moderate usage, the GTab 3 10.1 can easily last about a week. We still had a charge on our unit that was just below half capacity at four days in and that’s without the battery-saving mode turned on. Still, on our more rigorous battery rundown test, the tablet yielded a result of six hours and 55 minutes. That’s a big drop from last year’s model, which made it almost to the nine-hour-mark — unsurprising, we suppose, since the Tab 2 had a bigger 7,000mAh battery.

R6 500 is a tough asking price for a tablet that hasn’t changed much from its last generation. For about R2 000 less, you can take home 2012’s Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and enjoy the same 1,280 x 800 resolution, dual-core experience, camera setup and 16GB internal storage allotment. If your search for a mid-range Android tablet has you looking outside of Samsung’s Galaxy lineup, there’s Lenovo’s Yoga Tablet 10 to consider. It matches up with almost a similar resolution, storage configuration and adds in a quad-core CPU for nearly R1 500 less.

Papi Mabele
Tech enthusiast at heart. Lover of all things digital. Papi is the founder of SA Vibe and has been sharing his love for gadgetry since 2010. Papi sees no need for wearable tech in his busy schedule and considers the Xbox One as non existant. He may come across as bias at times, and still holds a grudge at BlackBerry for creating the 8520.