Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch Review



The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch (also known as the Tab 3 7.0) is the smallest of the three Tab series slates the Korean company released this year, and it is the most affordable one as well. It’s a mild upgrade over earlier 7-inch tablets by Samsung, and it does not add much in terms of hardware raw power, but what it does do is shrink in size becoming narrower, with smaller bezel so as to fit in most jacket pockets and easier to hold single-handedly.

Unfortunately, with all the good news for ergonomics, the Tab 3 7-inch arrives with a screen with very low resolution and is a bit chubby compared to all its peers. At first sight, it does look like a device of the recent past rather than present. Let’s not just rely on first impressions, though, and explore the device in-depth to see if it’s worth even the relatively low price Samsung asks for it.


The Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch has that typical “Samsung look” of pre-Note 3 times and that consists in glossy plastic that easily smudges and stains. The tablet is solidly put together and does not squeal or screak. Still, its nearly 0.4-inch (9.9mm) profile definitely makes it one of the chubbier tablets on the market today. It ships in three colors: white, gold brown and black, and the white one we had is particularly prone to attracting fingerprint smudges.

The biggest progress over earlier generations of Samsung’s 7-inch tablet series is the diminished in size side bezel, making the Tab 3 7-inch easier to hold single handedly and fitting in more pockets. Still, jacket pockets seem like the right fit rather than jeans pockets (it would be too big for them).

The buttons are also a standard Samsung affair: a single physical home key surrounded by two capacitive Android navigation buttons reside right below the screen. The lock and volume keys on the right are made out of plastic and a bit too recessed making them harder to press. On the left are two lid-protected slots - a microSD expansion slot and a SIM card slot for cellular data connectivity. The latter is only present on pricier Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 that support data and can also take and make phone calls like a regular phone.


Unfortunately, the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 display fails to meet the expectations even for a cheap device. The tablet ships with the same resolution as the first Samsung tablet released back in the dark ages (circa 2010). Sarcasm aside, it’s really disappointing to see a 7-inch screen ship with a resolution of just 1024 x 600 pixels on a tablet nowadays. It lacks sorely in sharpness.

After you’ve swallowed the nasty pixelized icons and jaggy text, you might start noticing that colors are also visible off, with a very prominent bluish tint applied to everything that’s displayed.

On a more positive note, viewing angles are good (but not great), and brightness can get very high making the tablet easier to read and use outdoors. Still, even this advantage is offset by the high reflectance of the screen that tires the eye, especially outdoors.

Interface and Functionality

The Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch runs on the now quaint looking Android 4.1.2 Jelly Bean (currently, the latest Android version is 4.4!) with a sprinkle of TouchWiz flavor on top.

Samsung’s skin definitely brings a lot of functionality and optimizations to tablets, arguably even more so than it does to phone. We find features like the screen rotation , two-column layout for apps like the music player and gallery, and others nice optimizations that improve the user experience. What could be a subject of more heated debate is the actual cartoony looks and nature-inspired visual effects.

Other highlights of the TouchWiz skin include a notification shade that brings together important quick-access buttons for common settings and most importantly a convenient brightness slider. Samsung is also bundling all its signature apps: S Voice, S Planner, S Memo, ChatOn, Мusic/Learning/Video Hub, AllShare Play, Group Play and Samsung Apps. We definitely like the S Planner rich calendar experience and the fact that it easily integrates your Facebook events for instance, and ChatOn has also grown to be a good cross-platform instant messenger.

Phone functionality

The Tab 3 7.0 does come in a Wi-Fi-only model and there is a pricier version that adds support for a SIM card and you can actually use it not just for data, but also to make phone calls and send text messages, just like a regular phone. True, it’s a 7-inch tablet and that would look weird, but you have the option.

The Tab 3 7-inch ships with a phone dialer, contacts and messaging app right away, and all of them are well optimized to the larger screen and generally to the tablet form factor. Contacts for instance displays two columns, one for the contact names and another one for contact information, and that’s convenient. And while you cannot text single-handedly on a 7-inch tablet, typing out on the larger screen with two hands is very convenient and the added numbers row speeds it all up further.

Processor and Memory

Performance is not the Galaxy Tab 3 7-inch’s strongest point, but it is not a terribly laggy device either. It surprisingly does not feature a Samsung Exynos processor like we’ve seen in the Tab 3 8-inch, but a dual-core Marvell PXA986 Cortex A9-based system chip, a slower run of the mill chip that runs at a clock speed of up to 1.2GHz. The fact that the chip is not made by a well-known company would not matter at all if it was speedy, but it delivers fairly mediocre performance when you add the strain of multitasking. For daily use and just navigation around Android though it’s mostly a smooth affair. It features 1GB of RAM which is not terribly low, but is part of the reason for not having perfectly smooth multitasking.

Gamers can rely on the PowerVR SGX540 graphics chip that is powerful enough to play even more complex games, but the more sophisticated the game, the less smooth the performance. For casual gamers playing only the likes of Temple Run 2 and Despicable Me: Minion Rush the Tab 3 7-inch would be perfectly adequate, but for those venturing into shooters and sports games and other games with more demanding graphics, this tablet would be too slow.

Speaking of memory, the Tab 3 basic model comes with 8GB of internal storage of which around 4 gigs are available to the end user. Luckily, that low amount of memory can easily be expanded via microSD cards of up to 64 GB.

QuadrantHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.03612
Google Nexus 7(2013)5854
Amazon Kindle Fire HD(2013)2948
Asus Fonepad2830
AnTuTuHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.010453
Google Nexus 7(2013)19786
Asus Fonepad9174
GFXBench Egypt HD 2.5 onscreen(fps)Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.018
Google Nexus 7(2013)40
Amazon Kindle Fire HD(2013)17
Asus Fonepad12
Vellamo MetalHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0444
Google Nexus 7(2013)692
Asus Fonepad456
Vellamo HTML 5Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.01422
Google Nexus 7(2013)1571

Internet and Connectivity

Being a media and web centric device, this 7-incher is supposed to be used for reading books and content on the web, but with a paltry resolution and lack of sharpness, text looks jagged and the experience is flawed. Still, the 7-inch screen real estate somewhat makes up for that. You have two browsers pre-loaded to access the web: Google’s mobile Chrome and a custom browser by Samsung.

We have the cellular data-enabled version of the tablet (there is a Wi-Fi-only one), and it comes with support for 4G HSPA+ connectivity with downlink speeds of up to 21Mbps. It’s not 4G LTE, but it’s not slow either and we appreciate having that extra connectivity on the go. Bad news is that extra costs an exorbitant amount of money - you should expect to pay from $90 to $130 more for a cellular data enabled Tab 3 7-inch.

Other connectivity options include dual-band Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, Bluetooth 3.0, A-GPS and GLONASS. One thing that’s missing from the 7-inch Tab 3 is the infrared port of the larger 8- and 10-inch Galaxy tablets.


The Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is far from a photography-oriented device, but it does have both a rear and a front-facing camera.

The camera app is very quick to open which is great for impromptu shooting. The interface is the same we’ve seen in so many Samsung devices before the Galaxy S4. It offers a lot of manual adjustments and settings, and is generally well made, but does not feature the nice and plentiful shooting modes as in the latest S4s.

The main camera, a 3-megapixel fixed-focus one, sounds like a pretty basic shooter, and it’s by no means anything revolutionary, but it surprised us with its speed and quality. Using a fixed focus camera means there’s no time lost auto-focusing, but in exchange this also means that objects up close (10 inches and closer) cannot be focused on and appear blurry. The actual image quality lacks a bit in detail, but turns out surprisingly good with no overblown, but instead accurate colors, good exposure and some dynamics that we are not used to seeing from cameras in this price range. All in all, apart from the lack of detail and occasional slight lack of sharpness to the images, they look perfectly fine for sharing on the web.

The 3-megapixel camera can also record video. By default, footage is recorded in 720 x 480 pixel resolution, but if you actually go into settings you can change this and turn it up to 720p video. This comes with a huge different in the focal length as it changes drastically in 720p appearing as if you were shooting with a telephoto camera lens (very zoomed in so you have to move away from your subject to be able to capture it in its full size). This is quite strange and makes 720p recording not very practical as usually one does not have the space to move that far to adjust to the subject. In 480p, the focal length is normal and you can shoot larger objects without having to move away. Video is recorded at 30 frames per second in both resolution and is smooth in both cases, but recordings turn out much sharper and generally better looking at 720p, of course.

We appreciate that Samsung also includes a front-facing camera as it seems to be of crucial importance for a tablet, a device that people often use for video calls. It’s a 1-megapixel front shooter with very basic quality lacking detail and sharpness, but still usable for video conferencing.


A 7-inch tablet is the perfect sidekick to keep you entertained on trips and you can watch movies in virtually all formats. The Galaxy Tab 3 does not surprise with anything - it’s got the typical rich in features Samsung video and music players.

The stock Samsung video player managed to play all video formats and codecs we threw at it at a much higher resolution than its native 1024 x 600 pixels. We managed to even play back 1080p clips with ease.

The music application sorts your catalog by songs, artists, albums and genres, and neatly it has a by-folder view. You can also fine-tune your music experience with presets, but there is no full-on manual equalizer.s

One thing that we love about this device is the sound output via the two speakers on the bottom. It is very good: impressively loud and it even has some depth to it.

Battery life

4000mAh batteries are what we are starting to get in phones nowadays, and that’s exactly what we have in the 7-inch Tab 3. It suffices, though, and we like how good the device does in stand-by, lasting up to 17 days on paper and in reality we left it for three or four days and when we finally unlocked it, it was in near perfect battery health. We ought to mention we did not use the cellular data connectivity, though, and that would have drained the battery much faster.

Heavier loads would definitely drain it much faster, though, and running some extrapolations, we’d say that it can last around 9 hours playing back video, which is a great result, on par with the industry leaders like the Nexus 7.


The 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 goes for an affordable device and is right now sold for around $150 for the Wi-Fi-only version while the cellular data enabled model is hard to come by and thus much more expensive, selling for over $250. It’s very affordable in its Wi-Fi version, and that’s its biggest plus. We also like the Samsung tablet experience that feels just a bit more intuitive and better optimized than others. Having the narrow side bezel is also hugely importantt for ergonomics and we appreciate this compactness in daily use.

With all that, though, there is the Nexus 7 2013 out there that costs nearly a third more, but it also comes with double the storage and features a mind-blowing super sharp 1920 x 1200 pixel display, a much more powerful processor and a better camera, pretty much beating the Tab 3 in all conceivable ways. The Kindle HD is another alternative selling for the same or even lower price, and offering a better display, but has no Google Play store access, not essential Google apps like YouTube, Gmail and Google Maps. An alternative that matches the Galaxy Tab 3 yet offers a much sharper display and speedier processor is the Asus MemoPad HD 7-inch tablet.

Truth comes in comparison, and after looking at modern day tablets the Tab 3 7-inch looks decidedly antique. Its screen is not as sharp as we'd like (it’s the same screen Samsung used in 2010!), its processor is lacking and the device feels a bit too chubby. At this point in time, the Samsung 7 incher - as cheap as it is - feels overpriced and dated.

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  • Affordable
  • Supports expandable storage
  • Camera captures nice images
  • Samsung’s interface is optimized for tablets


  • Low-res display
  • Middling performance

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

8 Reviews

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