Shortly before Christmas, I purchased an early Christmas present to myself – a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7″ tablet. Now that I’ve used it for several weeks, here’s my impression of it. No, Samsung didn’t pay me to write this. I just wanted to write up my personal experiences with it.
I purchased this tablet for two reasons. First, it was a good price – it was $50 through Sprint (with a contract) and Sprint had a sale on their mobile data plans. So I was able to get 2GB of data for $15 per month. Second, I needed a real Android device to continue building my Android app (you can read more about that here). It turns out that Google licenses Google Play to each device manufacturer. So Google Play is not available on any of the emulators and if you wanted to authenticate with the account associated with Google Play, you can’t do that with an emulator.
- Size: I really like the 7″ size for it’s mobility. It’s super easy to drop it into a back and take it with you.
- Mobile Data: It’s nice to have 4G mobile data where you go.
- Memory: This particular model came with 16 GB of built in memory. If you were to buy a Tab 3 elsewhere, I’ve only ever seen 8 GB models. (Yes, I know you can expand it with a SD card – it’s just nice not to have to deal with that up front).
- Build: As with most Samsung devices, the build quality is great.
- Size: Yes, I know I already called this out as a good thing, but the size can hinder you because once the keyboard is open, you only see a very small portion of the screen due to the overall size of the screen. I recommend that you purchase a Bluetooth keyboard if you plan to use it as a productivity device.
- Camera: The camera is pathetic! 3 MP in the rear facing camera and 1.3 MP in the front facing camera. Granted, I don’t plan to use the tablet as a camera but it would have been nice to have a decent camera available if I need it.
- Speed: It has a dual core processor in it (1.2 GHz). However, with a few apps, I’ve experienced a bit of stutter or lag. But for the price, it runs most apps OK.
I felt that the tablet was a bit slippery when you would hold it with out a case. So after doing some research I settled on a case i-Blason on Amazon. It comes with a Bluetooth keyboard that is magnetically attached to the case. I really liked this for two reasons. First, when using the Bluetooth keyboard the on-screen keyboard is not visible. So you see much more of the screen when you are using the Bluetooth keyboard. Second, you can remove the keyboard form the case to a more comfortable position if necessary.
The case is well made – I don’t think it’s real leather but it has a nice feel and solid construction. It has a kickstand that allows you to prop the tablet up while you are using the keyboard.
There are a couple of negatives about the case but they aren’t huge ones. First, the strap that keeps the case closed should have been magnetic or velcro. It’s a bit difficult to close the case sometimes. Second, if the app has a button in a corner of the screen, it can be difficult to tab it because of the material that holds the tablet in place.
The keyboard works sufficiently. It’s very small so if you must touch-type, it’s not for you. However, if you are ok using one or two fingers to type, it’s fine and I think, faster than the on-screen keyboard. On my keyboard several of the keys don’t do what I thought they would so. For example, the apostrophe is typed using the FN key + L key which is labeled as the [ symbol. But it seems to restricted to the apostrophe. It was frustrating at first but once I learn the difference, it doesn’t slow me down.
I do recommend that if you are looking at a case (especially if you want a Bluetooth keyboard) you include this one on your list. For the price, I think it’s worth it, especially if you want to use the tablet for email, longer-form writing, etc.