The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2017 is the second tablet Samsung released this year. Unlike the Galaxy Tab S3 it is a lower-middle-class device. Its features include an 8-inch HD screen, a Snapdragon 425 processor and a metal back. The LTE version supports phone calls. As of now, it is available in Asia, the United States and should be released in Europe soon. Prices start at around 230 US Dollars. How good is the new Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0? That’s what you’ll find out in this review.
Design & Build Quality
Let’s start this review with the design and build quality. The design does not resemble other recent tablets from Samsung. It looks quite different compared to the Galaxy Tab S3 or Galaxy Tab A 7.0. You can get it in gold and silver.
Unlike Samsung’s previous tablet, we actually are getting a metal back here. While the build quality is good, it does not feel very high-end. The frame is made of plastic and the metal back can feel quite slippery. As I said, the build quality itself is pretty good. But the smaller Galaxy Tab A 7.0 is nicer to hold thanks to its rubbery back.
It’s relatively light with a weight of 364 grams. But it is not the thinnest tablet at 8.9 millimeters. We’ve seen much thinner devices from Samsung in the past. It is still alright though.
The front looks like a typical Samsung tablet. As usual, we get a physical home button underneath the display. Next to that are a back button and a recents button that are both capacitive. I didn’t like the physical home button that much. It feels kind of old especially if there is no fingerprint sensor included. That is not the case here.
Cameras, Speakers, Ports
Most direct competitors still feature a micro USB port. So it’s nice that Samsung is giving us a USB Type C connector instead. All manufacturers should start to use these. On the top, we’re getting a 3.5-millimeter audio jack.
On the left side, you can open a card slot which can hold microSD card with a capacity of up to 256GB. With the 4G version, there is a SIM card slot as well.
Next to the USB Type C port is one single speaker. It’s kind of a bad place for a speaker. While watching movies or just YouTube I constantly covert it up with my hands by accident. The sound quality is not bad, but certainly not outstanding. It can’t keep up with higher-end devices. While it can be quite loud, it’s lacking a good bass.
On the back, we’re getting an 8-megapixel camera that is supported by an LED flash. You can record full HD videos with this one as well but no 4K. The front-facing camera offers a resolution of 5 megapixels. Considering that this is a tablet, the quality of the cameras is not bad at all. Actually, it’s pretty good. But, as you might expect, the picture quality is not on the same level with recent smartphone cameras.
By the way, next to the front-facing camera is another speaker that you can hold up to your ears. As I said, you can make phone calls with the LTE version and that’s the one I got.
Display: HD Only
As the name suggests, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 has an 8-inch screen. I really like this size because it’s great for reading and very easy to carry around. The aspect ratio is 16:10 and the IPS panel offers an HD resolution of 1280 x 800.
Nowadays an HD resolution is quite low. It’s not too bad on an 8-inch screen but almost every smartphone offers a much higher pixel density. Sadly, most direct competitors like the Lenovo Tab4 8, Huawei MediaPad T3 8 and Amazon Fire HD 8 have an HD resolution only as well.
It’s kind of disappointing that the screen is not fully laminated. There is a small gap between the touchscreen and IPS panel. A lot of cheaper tablets have this gap – by the way, that includes the 2017 iPad. But still, I expected more from Samsung. The cheaper Galaxy Tab A 7.0 had a fully laminated screen.
The gap is not as big as with some cheaper tablets. But because of this gap, it’s easier to see reflections outside. As I said, most competitors have this but since Samsung’s tablets usually are a bit more expensive, I didn’t expect this.
Besides that, all other aspects of the display are very good. The screen is very bright, offers a nice contrast and colors look nice. The viewing angles are good too.
Hardware & Performance
Let’s take a closer look at the internal hardware. Inside the Galaxy Tab A 2017 runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor. All four cores are clocked at 1.4GHz. In addition to that, we’re getting 2GB of RAM and a 16GB to 32GB internal storage. With the 16GB version, you get around 9GB to use by yourself.
I’ve had the Lenovo Tab4 8, Huawei MediaPad T3 8 and MediaPad T3 10 with almost identical hardware already. And, as expected, the performance of those tablets is pretty much identical as well. During everyday use, I didn’t notice any huge differences. And the benchmarks are very similar too.
The benchmark results are not surprising. In Geekbench 4 the Galaxy Tab A 8.0 gets 659 and 1824 points. With AnTuTu it gets a result of 35898 points. As you can see, that is pretty similar to other Snapdragon 425 tablets. And, what’s also very interesting: The much cheaper Amazon Fire HD 8 gets very similar results too.
All apps I tried ran smoothly for the most part. That includes the Chrome browser, YouTube and Microsoft Word. But I’ve had a lot of fun with Lightroom and the Kindle eReader as well.
If you switch between apps fast, you might see some small stuttering. Especially if there are high-end games among them. But, as I said, overall the performance is pretty good.
The Galaxy Tab A 2017 is not a dedicated gaming tablet. Like with other Snapdragon 425 tablets, Modern Combat 5 is not really playable – well, unless you’re super patient. There is a lot of stuttering during action-heavy sequences.
Other games like Asphalt Xtreme, Asphalt 8 Airborne, and Dead Trigger 2 run very nicely. The same goes for simpler games like Rayman Adventures. You can play some games at pretty high graphics settings and that can look very nice. But, as mentioned, some like Modern Combat 5 do not run great.
The tablet supports WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS and optional LTE. I didn’t notice any issues with the WiFi and LTE reception. Bluetooth works without any problems as well.
Software: Android 7.1.1 Nougat
On the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2017 runs Android 7.1.1 Nougat. So it is the first tablet from Samsung that is shipping with Android 7.1.1. The Galaxy Tab A 9.7 from 2015 did get this update though.
Samsung might have a big advantage over its direct competitors when it comes to software. In the last couple of years, they’ve been pretty good at releasing updates. Most manufacturers release just one update – and a lot none at all. But Samsung did release several in the past. Even for their cheaper tablets. The Galaxy Tab A 9.7 got two major updates and the Galaxy Tab A 10.1 from last year has been updated to Nougat as well.
Will the Galaxy Tab A 8.0 get Android 8.0 Oreo next year? I certainly can’t say that for sure. But based on their update history it is much more likely compared to almost all of its direct competitors.
As usual, Samsung did customize the interface quite heavily. On top of Nougat runs the “Samsung Experience” version 8.5. Compared to previous tablets the design changed a bit. But most of the features are the same.
Unlike previous generations, there is no app drawer anymore. Instead, you have to swipe up on the home screen to get an overview over all installed apps. When you swipe to the left, you would have seen Flipboard in the past. That has been replaced with Samsung’s own virtual assistant called Bixby. You’ve probably heart of Bixby before from their last smartphone releases. Bixby can help you with your calendar, give an overview over the weather and show what’s trending. Overall, I didn’t find it very useful as of now.
Besides Bixby, there aren’t many changes. You can still open the split-screen-view by holding the recents button. This way you can open two apps side by side. Samsung has supported this feature for a lot of years already. By now it’s part of Nougat though. There is a lot of stuff in the settings. So, if you get this tablet, it’s worth it to spend a couple of minutes and go through them one by one to see what you might want to adjust.
There are also a lot of apps preinstalled. That includes Samsung’s own apps like a file manager and a notes app. But, as usual, there are Google’s apps preinstalled as well and the same goes for Microsoft’s office apps. You can deinstall them though.
Inside the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 sits a battery with a capacity of 5000mAh. That lasted for a runtime of just over 12 hours in my battery test. So, the battery life is very good, especially when considering the price.
For my battery test, I’m always running an HD video in a loop at 50% brightness and activated WiFi until the tablet shuts itself off.
During my everyday use, the battery life has been great as well. The tablet is almost not losing any charge while the screen is turned off. That’s really good. According to my battery diary, the tablet lasted 52 hours one time. Out of those, I used it actively for over 7 hours. In that time I surfed the web in Chrome, worked in Microsoft Word and watched some YouTube. The brightness varied between 100 and 50 percent and Bluetooth and WiFi were turned on the whole time.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2017 Review: Final Verdict
So, can I recommend the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2017? The build quality is very solid, the performance is good and the battery life is excellent. At the same time, we get good software and updates are likely in the future. On the other hand, it’s kind of sad that the screen is not fully laminated and we get an HD resolution only. But, as I said, the competition offers the same and Samsung’s screen is a bit brighter.
Overall, the Galaxy Tab A 8.0 is a very solid tablet and I enjoy using it. But can I recommend it? That depends on the price and you have to compare those locally. In the US, prices started at 230 Dollars for the 32GB WiFi version. The Lenovo Tab4 8 and Huawei MediaPad T3 8 with almost identical hardware but with 16GB of storage cost just around 150 dollars.
Now, Samsung’s prices tend to drop quite fast over time. In fact, right now, you can get it for just 199 dollars already. So, wherever you’re from and whenever you’re watching this, please compare prices. It might be worth it to spend a bit more for possibly longer updates and the great battery life. But you shouldn’t spend much more than for the Lenovo Tab4 8 or Huawei MediaPad T3 8. As I said, those three tablets are very similar.
- Decent build quality
- Android 7.1.1 Nougat
- Great battery life
- Solid performance
- HD resolution only
- Display is not laminated
- A bit pricy
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