When it comes to tablets, Apple’s iPad and Samsung Tab series remain the top choice for most buyers. According to IDC’s latest global quarterly tablet tracker for Q3 2017 (September quarter), Apple is the leading tablet vendor with a market share of 25.8% under its belt. Samsung, which occupies the second spot with a market share of 15%, has updated its Tab A line-up of mid-range tablets. We review the 8-inch screen variant of the Galaxy Tab A (2017) which is priced at Rs17,990.
Design: Premium looks, slightly hefty
The Galaxy Tab A (2017) has a full metal body with a slightly arched back. It feels more solid and reassuring in the hands than the predecessor which had a plastic back. Despite the affordable price tag, the new tablet looks and feels at par with the more expensive Apple’s iPad Mini 4.
All the elements look well-placed and in symmetry. The back panel includes an 8-megapixel camera with flash at the centre top and the Samsung logo in the middle. The front panel includes an 8-inch screen, 5-megapixel front camera on top and the trademark oval-shaped home button with touch-based navigation keys on either side. The home button is too small and the navigation keys are not backlit. The tablet weighs 364g, which is more than the iPad Mini 4’s 304g, but is manageable with two hands.
Display: Big and vibrant
The 8-inch screen has a resolution of 1,280x800p. It offers an aspect ratio of 16:9 which is good news for movie buffs as most video content is made in this aspect ratio. The display looks bright, but lacks the sharpness of the iPad Mini 4 (2,048×1,536p). Games, movies and e-books could have looked better if it had a screen resolution of at least 1,920×1,080p. Visibility from wide viewing angles is good. It has a blue-light filter which can protect users’ eyes from the harmful blue light by giving he screen a warm tone.
Software: Improved TouchWiz, extra security
The tablet runs on Android 7.1 (Nougat) with the new-look TouchWizUI, also seen in high-end Samsung smartphones such as Galaxy S8 and Note 8. It looks less cluttered and has few pre-loaded apps compared to older versions of the UI. This makes it easy to navigate. You can access the app drawer by swiping up or down on the screen. There is a feature called Secure Folder which keeps your personal files, photos and apps hidden in an encrypted folder. It’s protected by Samsung’s military-grade security tool called Knox and can’t be accessed through USB drive or WiFi direct until the file is moved out of the Secure Folder. If anyone tries to tamper with the software, the data will be automatically and permanently locked. Then there is a Kids mode, which offers learning apps and games with no in-app purchases. It has a kids store too. The best part is that it restricts children from accessing the rest of the tablet. The Samsung Flow app is another unique feature of the tab. It allows users to connect their tablet to their smartphone via Bluetooth and view notifications from the phone or reply to messages from the tablet. Overall, it is easy to use and offers a lot of handy features.
Performance: Steady until stressed, long lasting battery
Driving the Galaxy Tab A (2017) is Qualcomm’s entry-level Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor and 2GB RAM, which is more than adequate for basic tasks such as movie playback, web browsing and typing. However, it is not cut out for heavy tasks, and struggles with big games and when there are 8 to 10 apps open in the background.
In terms of storage, users get 16GB of internal storage and up to 128GB via micro SD card. For connectivity, users don’t have to rely on WiFi network at home or office as it comes with a built-in SIM card tray with 4G support.
Its other highlight is the massive 5,000mAh battery, which gives more than 5 to 6 hours of backup on non-stop browsing, reading and watching YouTube videos. On modest use, it can easily last over a day on single charge.
The Galaxy Tab A 2017 has some unique security features and offers the look and feel of a premium tablet. For a more affordable alternative, users can consider the 8-inch variant of Lenovo Tab 4 (Rs12,999). It is also driven by Snapdragon 425 quad-core processor with 2GB RAM, offers resolution of 1,280x800p, runs Android 7.0, packs 4,850mAh battery and has 16GB internal storage with the option to add more via microSD card.