When it comes to mobile devices, Samsung has never been known for its restraint. Just a few months after showing us the Galaxy Note 8.0, and a month after the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0, the Korean company just pulled back the curtain on yet another tablet: the 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3. It isn’t the highest-end tablet ever made. But, for that matter, neither is Apple’s hot-selling iPad mini. Let’s compare the specs (and other features) of the two mid-range mini-tablets.
The 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3 is five percent taller than the iPad mini. The iPad mini, though, is almost nine percent wider. You can chalk that up to the screens’ different aspect ratios (more on that in a minute).
Both tablets are very thin, with the Tab 3 coming in at a mere three percent thicker than the svelte iPad mini.
No worries here. Both tablets are extremely light. The iPad is slightly lighter though (by about two percent).
The iPad mini has a unified aluminum build, while the Galaxy Tab doesn’t do anything to change Samsung’s affinity for plastic.
Both tablets borrow from the design language of their phone counterparts. The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 from the Galaxy S III (and just about every Samsung phone or tablet from the last year), and the iPad mini from the iPhone 5.
If you’re measuring diagonally, the Tab 3 8.0 looks to have a slightly bigger screen. But those diagonal measurements are deceiving. If you look instead at screen area, you’ll find that the iPad mini’s screen is actually slightly bigger: by almost three percent.
Nothing mind-blowing here either. The A5 chip in the iPad mini first debuted about 27 months ago, in the iPad 2. Hardly cutting-edge.
The same goes for the Tab 3’s nondescript dual core processor. When Samsung doesn’t tell you the make of the chip, you know it isn’t pushing any boundaries. Though, to its credit, it is clocked a bit higher than the iPad mini's A5.
A nice bonus for the Tab 3, as it has three times the RAM of the iPad mini. The relatively tiny amount of RAM in Apple’s tablet leads to some annoying experiences, like browser pages sometimes needing to refresh after only briefly switching to another app.
Shouldn’t be much to worry about here. The iPad mini comes in one larger storage option (64 GB), but the Tab 3 also supports microSD cards – where you can move your pictures, videos, or other media (no apps though).
The iPad mini will actually give you a bit more usable storage. The 16 GB model leaves you with around 13.7 GB to use, while the Tab 3 only ships with 11.26 GB of available storage.
Both slates ship in both Wi-Fi only and (more expensive) Wi-Fi + LTE models.
In terms of pixel counts (hardly a perfect measurement), the tablets’ rear cameras are equal. We’ll need to get our hands on the 8-inch Tab 3 before drawing conclusions, but we wouldn't expect anything amazing from its rear shooter. Ditto for the last-gen camera in the iPad mini.
But since tablets make for awkward cameras anyway, we aren’t too worried about their rear cams. Front-facing shooters might be more important on tablets, and both of these will let you video chat in HD.
On paper, this is a very small advantage for the Tab 3. Lots of factors can influence actual battery life though. But since the Tab 3 has a pretty low-res display (and no other juice-draining red flags), it’s probably a safe bet that, like the iPad mini, it'll give you good-to-great battery life.
We’ll leave the heated Android vs. iOS debates for another time and place. But the nice thing to note here is that both tablets run the latest versions of their respective operating systems.
The other big item here is that the 8-inch Tab 3 runs the latest version of Samsung’s TouchWiz UI. So you can expect most of the wacky bag of software goodies from the Galaxy S4 to return here.
Apple's App Store still has an advantage in tablet apps. Android's Google Play is improving in that respect, but we'd still like to see more tablet-optimized apps there, and less stretched-out smartphone apps. The good news for potential Galaxy Tab owners is that more people are buying Android tablets, so development should continue to improve there. Just know that, for now, this could be an important consideration.
Wrap-upOn paper, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 holds its own against the iPad mini. In fact, it's quite possible that Samsung used the iPad mini's strengths and weaknesses as guidelines here. Both have extremely light and thin form factors, but pretty mid-range specs in every other area ... with a few areas (RAM, processor speed) slightly favoring the Galaxy Tab.
Samsung hasn’t yet announced pricing for the new Tab, and we also don’t have solid release dates. All we know is that it will be available globally, beginning in June. The iPad mini is a much more known quantity: it starts at US$330, and is available now.