Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 vs. Nexus 7

Samsung was the first Android phone maker to take a stab at tablets. Released in 2010, the Galaxy Tab was a 7-inch slate that cost more than the bigger and better iPad. But Samsung kept chipping away, making tablets in all shapes and sizes, and is now gaining on Apple’s shrinking lead. How does Samsung’s latest – the Galaxy Tab 3 – compare to the Google/Asus Nexus 7?

Size

Despite identical screen sizes, the Galaxy Tab 3 is quite a bit smaller

It’s not often that two tablets with identical screen sizes have this big of a difference in overall size. But the Galaxy Tab 3’s smaller bezel makes it about six percent shorter and eight percent narrower than the Nexus 7.

Build

It's plastic all around at this party

Both tablets are rocking plastic chassis. The Tab’s backside is smoother, and it also has a removable battery cover. The Nexus 7’s rear has a grippy texture to it, and can’t (easily) be opened.

Weight

The Galaxy Tab 3's most redeeming quality: it's light as hell

As we’ll soon see, the Tab 3 has some pretty middle-of-the-road components. But one thing it can hang its hat on is its weight. This is one light tablet.

Display

Both seven-inchers, neither with mind-blowing resolution

The Nexus 7 is growing a little long in the tooth, and could soon be replaced by a newer Google mini-tablet. Its display reflects that, with pretty mediocre resolution (by 2013 standards).

But the Galaxy Tab 3 – a brand new tablet – manages to outdo it. And not in a good way. Its 1024 x 600 resolution is pretty underwhelming, and will look relatively fuzzy.

Processor

If the Nexus 7 isn't faster, we'll print this article and eat it

The Tab 3 sports a mystery processor, but we do know that it’s a dual core chip clocked at 1.2 GHz. The Nexus 7’s Tegra 3 is a known quantity and will almost certainly be faster than whatever mid-grade chip Samsung squeezed into this new Galaxy Tab.

RAM

1 GB of RAM all around

RAM is all tied up, at 1 GB a pop.

Storage

The Tab 3 offers lower storage options, but also has a microSD slot

Nothing special in the storage department for the Tab either. But at least it has a microSD slot. It can make that 8 GB go a lot farther – adding up to an additional 64 GB.

Wireless

Both tablets will sell in Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + HSPA+ models

The Wi-Fi only version of the Galaxy Tab 3 starts shipping in May. In June, the mobile data version starts shipping … but forget LTE. Like the Nexus 7, it maxes out at HSPA+ 21 speeds (that typically means between 4-8 Mbps in real world speeds).

Cameras

The Tab 3 has a crappy rear camera, but it's still more than you'll get from the Nexus 7

Well, it isn’t much, but the Galaxy Tab 3 does give you a rear camera. Its 3 megapixels might give you some flashbacks to the phone you owned in 2009, but it’s more of a rear camera than you’ll get from the Nexus 7.

Battery

Both tablets should deliver good uptime

There probably isn’t much to worry about here. Crappy display + mid-range processor + decent sized battery should mean plenty of uptime for the Tab 3. Ditto for the Nexus 7, only with better speed and a better (but not exactly mind-blowing) display.

Software

Both run Jelly Bean, but the Nexus 7 runs the newer version

Both slates run Android. Samsung gives you its TouchWiz UI slapped on top, but you still get Google Play, and all the fun stuff that goes along with it.

The Nexus 7’s big advantages are that it runs a newer version of Android, and it will always be more up-to-date than the Tab 3. One of the joys of running pure Android.

Wrap-up

So which do you choose? The Nexus 7 or the brand new Galaxy Tab 3? The correct answer is c) none of the above. Wait for the 2nd-gen Nexus 7, which might be announced at Google I/O 2013 in a couple weeks.

Okay, so maybe that isn’t the answer for everyone. But there’s still a lot we don’t know about the Tab 3. Specific regional availability? Price? Actual hands-on time with the dang thing? These are all mysteries. And by the time we do know, there will probably be something much better … like, you know, that Nexus 7 2G.

Just going by what we know now, it’s hard to recommend the Galaxy Tab 3. It’s very much mid-range. And since Samsung makes its money 100 percent on hardware (unlike Google or Amazon), it’s unlikely we’ll see some ridiculous sub-$200 price tag. Even if it’s cheap, it probably won’t be cheaper than other superior tablets that are either already here or in the pipeline.

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