Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 311 (8-inch) review

While looking for a mid-range tablet, most of the users think of the Korean electronics giant –Samsung. But there are other tough guys in Rs 25,000 range including Apple iPad mini and iPad 2.

Many ground-breaking tablets and smartphones were born in 2013. Samsung introduced the third-generation of its Galaxy Tab series and we call it Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 series. In India, Samsung came up with two new tablets to this series –Tab 3 311 (8-inch) and Tab 3 211 (7-inch), both are 3G + Wi-Fi enabled. Galaxy Tab 3 Wi-Fi only versions are also available – Tab 3 310 (8-inch) and Tab 3 210 (7-inch).

In the above picture, you can see Galaxy Tab 3 311 (8-inch) which is priced at Rs 25,500. Naturally you will expect some quality specs from this mid-range device. It is available in two colors: midnight black and white. Flip covers (Samsung Book Cover) are also available for this device in various colors —brown, black, blue, red and white– each cover is priced at Rs 2,699. We got this device on our workbench for two weeks and here is –

What I like about it

High battery life, lightweight, useful features

I expected

Fresh design, improved speakers

Quick Specs

  • 8-inch TFT Capacitive Touchscreen
  • 5 MP rear camera; 1.3 MP front camera
  • Dual-core processor clocked at 1.5 GHz
  • Calling facility (3G & Wi-Fi)
  • Internal memory – 16 GB (Expandable up to 64 GB); 1.5GB RAM
  • Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean
  • 4,450mAh battery
  • 209.8 x 123.8 x 7.4mm; Weight – 316g

Design, display & hardware

Tab 3 311 (8.0) has a slightly curved body design which you can see in Samsung’s other high-end devices. Believe it or not, Tab 3 311 is only 7.4mm thick and is thinner than the Galaxy S4 and iPhone 5s!

On the top you have a 3.5pi earjack, but unfortunately, Samsung didn’t provide headphones or earplugs with Tab 3 311. Both the SIM-card and MicroSD-card slot are on the left side of the device. The slots come with a flip-out door, but it doesn’t make the tablet waterproof. On the right side, the usual power button and volume rockers sit along with an Infrared blaster which lets you use the tab as a TV remote. I’ll tell you more about this feature later.

While this tablet is made of polycarbonate, it has a non-removable cover and a silver lining runs around it. If you peek under the Tab 3, the back cover seems to be slippery but actually, it easily fits in hand without any trouble, even for users who like to operate tabs with one hand.

You get an 8-inch TFT display (800x1280px), a 1.3MP camera and the common proximity sensor on the front. On the back, you will find a nice Samsung logo sitting along with a 5MP camera without flash.

The 316g machine has two stereo speakers and a USB 2.0 port in the middle at the bottom. Actually, the speakers are awful. Most of the people don’t like speakers at the bottom. The reason is: while you’re using the device in landscape mode, the speakers get covered by your hand. So, if you want to play deeply, plug-in some high-tech headphones!

Tab 3 has the usual buttons which you can see in most of the Samsung products –Menu, Home (slightly beveled) and Return. If you double-click the home button, Samsung’s S Voice app will pop-up.

Galaxy Tab 3 311 follows the same glossy design which you could spot on the Galaxy S4, GS4 Mini and the recently unveiled Galaxy Mega series. Tab 3 attracts fingerprints somewhat less but it has a smooth, easy to handle display. I liked the anti-reflection screen; it seems to be useful while gaming.

Software

Under the hood, there is a dual-core processor clocked at 1.5GHz and the tablet runs on Android 4.2.2 (Jelly Bean). Like most of the Samsung tablets, Tab 3 311 (8.0) comes with Samsung’s own UI –TouchWiz– on top of Android. The useful-apps which are pre-loaded on Galaxy Tab 3 311 include ChatON, S Voice, S Translator, S Planner.

The multi-window feature lets you do real multi-tasking and it seems to be useful but it doesn’t work with games! Smart Stay lets you prevent the display backlight from turning off while you are looking at the display. Samsung lets you expand Tab 3 311’s 16GB storage up to 64GB via MicroSD card. Now, you’ve plenty of room to put in your favorite apps and games!

I played Dead Space, Subway Surfers and GTA 3 on the Tab 3 311.The game play was fine but Dead Space troubled while starting up. The large 4,450mAh battery lets you play seamlessly and it lets you watch movies for a long time. The tablet’s battery lasted for about 8 hours after fully charging it. Touch Wiz UX is user-friendly and is simple to use but I think that some users will feel dizzy while working on this UI.

The ‘Peel Smart Remote’ app uses the IR Blaster so that you can use the tab as a TV Remote. We tested this feature with a Samsung TV and it worked fine.

Camera

I am pleased with Tab 3’s rear camera but slightly disappointed with the front one. The 8MP camera took nice shots (2560x1440px) even in low light –without flash, because it doesn’t have one. It comes with Auto-Focus and a CMOS Sensor.

The 1.3MP camera on the front of the device took a little grainy shots but it worked normal while video-chatting. You could put in some of your favorite effects in the images by using Paper Artist –another pre-installed app.

Video Review

Should you buy it?

I think you’ve got the answer for this question in the review itself. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 311 is excellent in performance but it comes with an uninteresting design. I am sure that you’ll love its battery life. You have to decide whether you’ll get familiar with Samsung’s TouchWiz UI or you should pick a device with Stock-Android –like the Nexus 7.

I suggest you also check out other devices like BlackBerry Playbook, iPad 2 and Xperia Tablet S. I would suggest Tab 3 311 for first-time tablet buyers who want to dig-up features, apps and games out of a Samsung device.

Anand B
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