Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 review: Barely scratching the surface

7 min read

I didn’t see the point of a tablet until I got one, and now I can’t believe I ever lived without one. Samsung has a tablet in its stable of Galaxy products, but are these the 10.1 inches that you’ve been looking for?

See me, feel me

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3

As seems to be the way with all non-Apple tablets, this one is designed to be held in landscape, making it ideal for navigation while watching videos as well as playing most games which tend to use landscape rather than portrait orientation. Of course tablets can be held however you like, but depending on button locations, this can seem more natural in certain ways. The Galaxy Tab 3 has three buttons for navigation, the main big button that returns users to the home screen or can be double tapped to issue voice commands, as well as a back and menu button. This can help a ton when navigating within apps, although of course most users will rely on the awesome and sensitive touch interface.

As long as we’re on the tactile component, the weight of the Galaxy Tab 3 made me more inclined to use it as a surface rather than as a general tablet – it was at its best when resting on my desk for all my swiping pleasure, rather than held in the hand. It weighs in at 512g, which it’s exactly heavy, but was too heavy for me to hold at certain angles for extended periods of time, like when I wanted to read on it. That said, the borders are nice and rounded without any sharp or rough edges, so you do choose to hold it there shouldn’t be any discomfort. Be prepared to hold it for a long while – this little baby doesn’t need to be plugged in for about eight hours of use, although obviously battery life varies depending on Wi-Fi and app usage. The tablet itself is white, which seems to be all the rage in tech, but I still find a bit weird. It ends up making the tablet appear less slick for me; I would have loved to see it in black or chrome.

The 10.1″ tablet has a screen resolution of 1280 x 800. This is fine for most tablet users – games and videos look crisp and clear on it. However, if you’re used to HD you might not be satisfied with it. Additionally, the tablet makes use of eye tracking to ensure that it stays on when you’re looking at it and then turns off when you look away. Unfortunately, it never seemed to be able to detect my eyes. You’d expect this might happen with Geoff, but the thing really should be able to pick up my big hazels. I unfortunately can’t tell you how well this system works.

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The Galaxy Tab 3 has cameras in the rear and front. This means that you can snap that excellent moment of the cat on your lap, or Skype your loved ones. While the main (rear) camera can take passable photos for Facebook or other social sharing moments, I wouldn’t recommend it for anything more important than that – the pictures just aren’t that crisp and clear and I found it difficult to focus on the things I wanted. The front camera will be functional for video calls, but prepare to look rather grainy and pixelated – that 1.3 Megapixel camera won’t do anything nice for your complexion.

Do I make you (h)Appy?

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 apps

Before looking at the specific apps the tablet comes with, it’s important to point out that Samsung uses their proprietary version of Android. Android is essentially a Google Operating System (OS) that companies can use as a foundation for their own OS. Samsung’s version (TouchWiz) is incredibly easy to use and intuitive, making their phones and tablets quick and easy to pick up for anyone to play on, even if they have never used a tablet before.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 is ridiculously easy to use thanks to Google linking everything together – with the quick startup you can make sure your Chrome, Youtube and Gmail are all synced to the tab without any hassle. It comes preloaded with plenty of apps for you to play with, and of course you get access to the entire Google Play Store. However, upon start up you already get Youtube, Smart Remote (yes, you can use the tablet to control your TV), Flipboard and Google Talk, along with a whole host of other file management software including Dropbox. You do also get access to Samsung Apps although I didn’t see anything on there that wasn’t also available through the Google Play Store.

While applications and games work perfectly well on the Galaxy Tab 3, I couldn’t help but feel like it was a bit laggy. This was particularly noticeable when switching between applications. Even once things were loaded from the internet, or already open and running, it just seemed to take a few too many seconds to switch from one app to another. This could be do to application bloat – due to coming pre-loaded with so many applications, the tablet drags when performing tasks. Here’s hoping that the new Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro doesn’t have this same issue.

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What’s in the box?

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 port

Network and Connectivity

  • 2G EDGE / GPRS (850 / 900 / 1,800 / 1,900MHZ)
  • 3G HSPA + (850 / 900 / 1,900 / 2,100) ? depends on regions
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n 2.4 + 5GHz
  • Wi-Fi Direct available
  • Bluetooth Profiles: A2DP, AVRCP, HFP, HSP, OPP, SPP, HID, PAN, PBAP MAP
  • MHL 1.2 support
  • KIES, KIES Air support

Technical Specifications

  • Dual Core Application Processor: 1.6GHz CPU Speed
  • 6,800mAh Battery
  • 1.3 Megapixels Camera Resolution (Front)
  • 3 Megapixels Camera Resolution (Rear)
  • 32GB Memory

Physical Specifications

  • 176.1 x 243.1 x 7.95mm Dimension
  • 512g Weight
  • USB v 2.0
  • 3.5mm Stereo Earjack
  • microSD External Memory Slot (up to 64GB)
  • SIM Support
  • Micro USB (11 pin) available
  • MHL available

RRP: R6 999


All in all the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 is not quite right in its 10.1″ form. It’s too heavy to really be ideal around the house without the processing strength to justify that weight. However, if you want an easy to use tablet that will easily interface with all your other preferences thanks to Google, Samsung’s Android OS is fantastic. With this price tag, I’m just not sure it will be worthwhile to all consumers; if, however, you can pick it up for cheap while waiting for the Tab Pro, it might be an excellent entry into the Android tablet experience.

Last Updated: July 10, 2014

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Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let's get on with it!

  • Admiral Chief Fairburne

    Rather get S4, like meeeeeeeeeee

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      I’m still playing around with my S3.

      • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

        I still have my S2….

    • FoxOneZA

      Or an S6 like future meeee 🙂

      • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

        Note 4, thanks.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    “You’d expect this might happen with Geoff” LOL!

    • Admiral Chief Fairburne


    • Rince&pop

      lulz super times ten!

  • Admiral Chief Fairburne

    I got the Tab3 7.0 for my wife and daughter, and lemme tell you, very nice, but very slow 🙁

    • Got the Tab 2.0 and that is slow too….Not happy with this tablets. iPad is much better

      • Admiral Chief Fairburne

        iPad is kak as well, gimme quad coooooooore

        • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

          Unfortunately they aren’t kak. They are actually exceptionally good (It pains me every time I say this. Eish)

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            Tablets schmablets

        • iPad Air is better than just about every other tablet available. for reals. Will happily get an android phone, and ipad for tablet.

          • Rince&pop

            But how expensive?

          • Same price as any competing tablet, actually. R6 499 for the entry level ipad air.

          • Rince&pop

            Wow, really? Didn’t know that. When I hear apple I hear $$$$

          • Is bullshit perpetuated by the people who hate on apple. The phones can be pricy, but honestly not much pricier than top end android.

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

            Ah but here I can at least say the top end android phones are better than the iPhones. The iPhones are crappy. The iPads are great though

          • Apple is evil right? Well their devices outperform Samsung, but hey, banndwagon and all

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            “outperform Samsung”

            HAHAHAHAHA, ja right

          • Brian Murphy

            It’s really not bullshit though, Apple may have broken the mold here, or Samsung and Apple may just be overpricing their products equally. Either way, Isuppli’s teardowns are a great indicator of how badly Apple (or any company, for that matter) gouge’s their customers.

            You cannot argue against facts, and the great thing about facts, is they don’t need you to agree with them, to be true.


          • They all gouge consumers equally, yeah 😉

          • Brian Murphy

            So the point here is, it’s not bullshit, it’s just they started the trend, and everyone else followed suit. I don’t really look at either company favorably, knowing that.

          • Brian Murphy

            So, I can’t find a teardown of the Tab 3, but I can see that Samsung does indeed markup their hardware on a similar levels to Apple. (Looking at the S5 teardown BOM versus retail). They’re both in ‘obscene’ territories. I can only imagine how the PS3 would’ve performed had Sony tacked on nearly $400 instead of selling at a ~200+ loss per unit. Sure, different hardware, different applications etc.. but the difference is striking.

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

            Yeah and the entry level tablet actually performs very, very well even under heavy graphical games

            *seriously this hurts everytime I say something good about Apple

          • Well, the entry level ipad air is only entry level in storage space and lack of 3g. Is the same hardware otherwise.

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

            Also true

          • FoxOneZA

            iPad Mini which is better spec’d costs under R4K but the off putting factor with Apple products is the lack of free apps on the app Store. Not everyone has a credit card.

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            I have iPad mini 64g 3g in my office, unopened, trying to find a buyer.

            Any takers?

          • Will give you a sealed copy of Mortal Kombat 9 for pc to trade.

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            Pffffffffff and BAH I say.

            I want cashmoney so that I can buy faster CPU/mobo/RAMZORS

          • This is probably my favorite comment this year….This is every single forum trade I’ve dealt with.

            “Yo bro, I got Stranglehold to trade for your copy of Tomb Raider”

          • Rince&pop

            Hang a second… Aren’t these those crates of boxes you mentioned a while ago? 0-O

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            Nope, those are 500GB HDDs, 14 of them

          • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

            How much and how much commission for finding you a buyer? 😛

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            R7k, and you can take the rest

          • FoxOneZA

            Gumtree? 😛

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            I tried, too many skelms there.

          • Mossel

            What’s your price? For reals.

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            Lets chat on Steam…

          • Admiral Chief Fairburne

            Tablets are a bit silly

        • Performs better than any tablet out there

        • Mossel

          I had (note the past tense. it was stolen) an iPad 3 and it was amazing. Not very productive, but super fun to play with and read websites and watch vids. And it runs super smooth. No nead for 4 cores if your OS is not that intensive.

    • Mossel

      Like all samsung devices in my opinion. They only people that do not recognise lag on a samsung are hardcore samsung fans.

  • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

    I love the galaxy tablets… But I’m going to admit it. I prefer the Apple Tablets. THey have longer battery life and are far more enjoyable to use.

    I’d still go for Samsung phones though

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    I’ve never really been sold on tablets. It’s one of those things that would be nice to have, but it’s an additional device to play around with – not a replacement of something else like my phone or PC.

    • Admiral Chief Fairburne

      Agreed, got the Tab3 7.0 so my wife can do banking and browsing and stay the hell off my PC

  • Rince&pop

    “The 10.1″ you’re looking for” Hahahaha!

  • Sir Rants A Lot Llew

    So this is only possibly the (an)droid we are looking for?

    • Rince&pop

      And there we have it, faster than I expected 😉 That’s…

  • Norm

    I’m quite happy with my Samsung Tab2 7.0.
    Great for my work & geocaching.

  • Consumer of Little Rabbits

    Ive only ever had Apple tabs. Cant deal with androids OS. Awful thing. I know its more akin to coders and devs, but I do neither, so simplicity and reliability catch the top trump.

  • CodeName Tailgunner

    Buy old Samsung tablet and load it with a new operating system (likely not the Samsung Android version)
    Unlike Apple Samsung tend to stop updating their operating system for their older models.
    Although Apple may do this as well, now I am not sure.

  • FoxOneZA

    The Galaxy Tab 4 is already out locally. Why review this only now?

  • FoxOneZA

    This tablet was R2500 a month back at Takealot. Great for the kiddo’s to do homework on. If you are looking for something faster than there’s the Lenovo S6000 and Xperia Z tab.

  • Samsung products are just not what they used to be. And their shotgun approach to releasing products is really spreading their support thin. I wouldn’t buy this hunk of plastic. Dated hardware on a bloated OS…

  • Gareth L (That eXCheez Guy)

    Is this not the Tab 4, which is out now?

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