The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019 with its product numbers SM-T290 and SM-T295 is the newest entry-level tablet from Samsung. Starting at 150 US Dollars it offers an 8-inch HD screen, a Snapdragon 429 processor, and Android 9 Pie. Well, is it as good as the other tablets of this lineup? That’s what you’ll learn in this Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019 review.
Let’s get some confusion out of the way first. Samsung released two 8-inch Galaxy Tab A tablets this year. The first one is pricier; it has an S Pen and I reviewed that one a couple of months ago. This review is of the cheaper one called SM-T290 and SM-T295.
Design & Build Quality
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019 looks like a classic Samsung tablet. You can get it in black and grey. I’ve got the later one which has white screen-bezels. There are no physical buttons underneath the screen anymore and, no, there’s no fingerprint scanner either. While we get a metal back, the frame of the tablet is made of plastic.
I would prefer a full metal body. But well, the build quality is good enough. You can’t bend it and it seems well made. But because of the plastic frame, it does not feel as high-end as an iPad Mini does.
We get a power button and volume controls on the right side. And on the left side, there’s room for a microSD card that can be up to 512GB in size. On the top, there’s a standard 3.5mm headphone jack and you can charge it using a micro-USB port on the bottom. Yes, no USB C here.
Next to that micro-USB connector are two stereo speakers. Considering its price, the sound quality is not bad at all – pretty decent actually. However, because both speakers are placed on the same side, you won’t hear any real stereo separation when watching movies.
There’s an 8-megapixel camera on the back and the selfie shooter has a resolution of 2 megapixels. Again, for this price, both cameras are good enough. But sure, pretty much every smartphone takes better photos. Still, they’re usable for occasional snapshots.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019 features an 8-inch screen. It seems to be an IPS panel – but I’m not super sure because Samsung doesn’t specify it anymore. Well, it’s important to know that viewing angles are wide enough for most users. It has a 16:10 aspect ratio and an HD resolution with 1280 x 800 pixels. I like that the screen is laminated – you won’t see a distracting air gab underneath the touchscreen.
With 8-inch screens, I always think that an HD resolution is alright. Sure, a full HD display would have been better. And pretty much every phone has a higher pixel density. But still, as long as you don’t press it against your nose, it’s sharp enough. Remember, it’s a cheap tablet.
Color reproduction is alright and it’s bright enough to use inside and outside in the shadows. However, the screen is too dark to use in direct sunlight. You’ll see too many reflections. But I’ve been able to use it comfortably on a train when sitting next to a bright window, for example.
And no, the SM-T290 and SM-T295 don’t support an active pen. And yes, I tried the S Pen, it doesn’t work.
You should also know that this tablet has a Widevine Level of L3. That means you can’t watch Netflix in HD. But, since we’re getting an HD resolution only, it’s not too bad. It just means that movies will have a little less detail as the display would be capable of showing. But sure, it’s not ideal and I hope Samsung will fix it with an update.
Hardware & Performance
It’s a bit disappointing that Samsung is not shipping this Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019 with the same Exynos SoC of its bigger brother. Instead, it uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 429 quad-core processor with 2GB of RAM and a 32GB internal storage. Out of those, you can use 10.9GB out of the box.
As you can see in my benchmark comparison, the Galaxy Tab A is faster in AnTuTu and in Geekbench than the Amazon Fire HD 8 which is a direct and cheaper competitor. However, it’s also noticeably slower than the S Pen version – which, to be fair, is pricier too. And the bigger Samsung Galaxy Tab A 10.1 2019 is faster as well. So, the performance is not great. But well, in these benchmarks, it’s kind of placed where it’s priced at.
Apps like Chrome and YouTube run well. That’s important to know. It’s certainly fast enough for simpler apps. And you can do a bit of multitasking too. But because of those 2GB of RAM, you will see apps having to reload more often because they’ll get closed in the background faster than with tablets that have more memory. I think the performance is fine. But if you often use several apps at once and switch between them fast, this tablet might feel too slow for you.
Let’s get to my gaming test. I tried PUBG Mobile with the lowest graphics settings and it is playable. It runs pretty smooth. But graphics look much worse than on higher-end devices. But well, at least you can play it. That’s what I can say about Shadowgun Legends too. With lowest settings, you can play it. But when fighting, you will see some stutters.
I also tried the racing game Asphalt 9. However, that one is not playable at all. Loading times are very long and once it’s loaded, it stutters a lot. You won’t have fun playing it.
So, the performance is certainly good enough for simpler games or if you don’t care much about graphics. But if you’re looking for a great gaming tablet, this is not the one for you.
Software: Android 9 & One UI
Out of the box, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019 ships with Android 9.0 Pie and One UI in version 1.1. That’s the own interface from Samsung. In the past, Samsung has been pretty good with updates for the Galaxy Tab A tablets. Usually, they get two big updates and that means they’re much better than many competitors.
With One UI, Android gets changed quite a lot. Everything looks different, including the settings. Some special features are a blue light filter, a night mode, energy-saving modes, and you can replace the navigation buttons with gestures. There’s a new Digital Wellbeing setting with which you can see how much time you’re spending with which apps.
The tablet continues to support a split-screen view but that one works a bit different than before. To open two apps side by side, you’ve got to tap the recent apps button and tip on the app icon. Once you do that, a menu pops up and you can select that you want to open it in split-screen view. By the way, you can open apps in free-floating windows too and even adjust their transparency.
You can see that Samsung customized Android quite a lot. But I like that not too many apps are pre-installed. Sure, there are some standard apps from Samsung, the ones from Google, two from Microsoft, and Spotify. But that’s it.
By the way, there’s a kid’s mode for kids too. Since I don’t have any, it’s hard for me to judge whether it’s useful. But it seems fine for very young kids, probably not the older ones.
In my standard battery test, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019 SM-T290 lasted 13.5 hours. For this, I’m always looping the same HD video at medium brightness. You can see in my comparison, that this is a pretty good result.
The battery life is pretty good in real life too. I think most can charge it every two days or so. But that’s not the case if you try to replace your phone with the LTE version, for example, or if you play tons of games.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019 Review: Final Verdict
That’s my Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 2019 review. My final verdict is two-fold. On the one hand, I wish we’d get a full HD screen, a better processor, and features like a fingerprint sensor. But that would mean it wouldn’t be this cheap. I think the price Samsung is asking for is okay. That’s where it’s placed in my benchmark comparison too.
Many aspects like its screen, speakers, cameras, and performance are pretty good for its price class. And I like that we get Google Android and that Samsung has been pretty good with updates in the past. But it’s important to note, that this is most certainly not a premium device.
Let’s check out some competitors.
Actually, in exactly this price range, there are not many. A cheaper alternative is the Amazon Fire HD 8. That one offers a similar display, a weaker performance, and you’ve got to use Amazon’s own version of Android. You can install the Google Play Store yourself though. It can be a good and cheaper alternative for many.
The Huawei MediaPad M5 8 is a much better alternative. It’s better in pretty much every way and because of the US-China trade war, prices have dropped in many markets. Sure, it’s over a year old already, but I still consider it a premium tablet.
Tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab A 8.0 with S Pen and the Huawei MediaPad M5 Lite 8 are better and pricier alternatives too. I really enjoyed using the Galaxy Tab A with S Pen. However, for reasons I don’t know, Samsung and Huawei are selling both in very few markets only.
- Very inexpensive
- Android 9 & One UI
- Long battery life
- Performance good-enough only
- Micro-USB port
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