It’s really surprising how many people actually ended up using the Tab 2 7.0 as their primary phone. What sounded (and still does) like a ridiculous idea a year ago is soon changing as Sony’s Z Ultra blurred the line between tablets and phones even further. With the surge of budget tablets with calling functions hitting its peak towards the beginning of this year, the big boys had no choice but to follow this trend. Today, we have the third iteration of the Galaxy Tab 7-inch with a few nips and tucks to give it a younger look. Launched at the same price as the older Tab 2, which has been phased out, let’s see if the facelift is just cosmetic or something more.
Design and Build
The variant launched in India is the T211 which differs slightly from the P3200 sold internationally in that the IR remote function seems to be missing. The Tab 3 borrows similar design elements form the Galaxy Note 10.1 with its rounded edges and slightly concave sides. The bezel is a lot thinner thereby reducing the overall width and height of the tablet. It’s slightly thinner as well at 9.9mm and a tad lighter at 306g. This is barely distinguishable, however, and still feels heavy and chunky for a tablet. Dominating the front is a 7-inch TFT display with a 1024 x 600 resolution without any sort of scratch-resistant protection. The customary array of sensors, earpiece and buttons take their usual place around the display.
Looks better than the old model
On the sides, we have a flap-covered microSIM and mciroSD card slot and the volume rocker and power button. There are stereo speakers at the bottom along with the microUSB port. The glossy back is quite uninteresting and tends to gather a lot of fingerprints. Up on the top, we have a 3MP fixed-focus camera and a 1.3MP on the front. Overall, the Tab 3 looks fresh thanks to the white paint job and slimmer bezel but it’s remained unchanged for the most part.
Not much going on here
The Tab 3 comes with Jelly Bean out-of-the-box (4.1.2) and Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface. The usual suite of apps is present as well right from Samsung Link, S Voice, Samsung Apps, Group Play to their awesome video player which supports all popular formats. The display is fairly bright but the low resolution causes text and icons to appear choppy. The sensitivity is not very good either as it tends to skip some inputs intermittently. Despite having Jelly Bean and 1GB RAM, the UI can get really laggy to a point where everything just freezes up for seconds before you can resume what you were doing.
We found this a bit strange since the tablet is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core Marvell chipset. It manages 1080p videos just fine but sadly Project Butter has some hiccups. The Tab 3 is available in two storage options and the 8GB variant had 5.1GB of usable space.
The music and video player is the same as the ones we’ve seen on previous Galaxy devices, only it’s re-designed a bit to take advantage of the extra screen real estate. You can sort your music via albums, artists, folders or Music square, which groups your library according to your mood – "Exciting", "Joyful", "Calm" and "Passionate". This works well, provided you have all your songs categorised under the right genre. Audio is decently loud from the speakers and the quality gets better with a good pair of IEMs.
Good options to sort your music
The video player supports MP4, MKV and everything in between. However, the only exceptions were MOV and FLV files, which refused to play. Full HD 1080p videos play back smoothly and there’s even the new Pop up play feature. FM radio is absent however, which could be a let-down for some.
The Tab 3 T211 supports quad-band GSM and 3G radio. Voice calls are handled well by the earpiece. Apart from looking like a total douche in public and the fact that the Tab 3 won’t fit in most jeans, it’s very usable as a phone. We don’t recommend this as your primary phone any way. Other connectivity options include dual-band Wi-Fi, AGPS and GLONASS, Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth v3.0. NFC is absent and so is the IR port that’s present in the international version.
Web browsing is not the best due to the low resolution screen
The rear 3MP fixed-focus shooter is incredibly laggy and is strictly average for outdoor shots. You can forget about getting even passable images for indoors or close up shots. Video recording maxes out at 720p but the quality is below average. The front facing camera has been upgraded from a VGA to a 1.3MP shooter, however the video is still capped at 480p.
Very poor camera
Battery life is something of a silver lining with the Tab 3. We managed to finish up our full 8-hour battery test which included calls, music and video playback and YouTube streaming. At the end, we were left with 49 per cent of battery to spare.
A sore disappointment
Verdict and Price in India
The Samsung Tab 3 T211 is a real disappointment as it barely improves anything from last year’s model. In fact, the performance has gotten worse. With a retail price of Rs 18,890 for the 8GB variant, it’s highly overpriced and not worth the premium. The only redeeming feature is the relatively good battery life but it falls flat in almost every other department. The Asus Fonepad offers much better value at Rs 18,000 as it packs in the same feature set but with 32GB onboard memory and an HD IPS display. If you absolutely need calling capabilities then we highly recommend the Fonepad over the Galaxy Tab 3.
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