Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 review
Processor: 1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Screen size: 8in, Screen resolution: 1,280x800, Rear camera: 3 megapixel, Storage: 16GB, Wireless data: 4G +£100, Size: 124x8x210mm, Weight: 320g, Operating system: Android 4.4
It's been a good year so far for Samsung tablets. The first models we saw, the range-topping Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and 10.5, had such astonishing high-resolution screens that they were always going to be a tough act to follow for the cheaper models.
However, not everyone is prepared to spend more than £300 on an Android tablet, which is where the Galaxy Tab 4 range comes in. There are three tablets in the Tab 4 range, with 7in, 8in and 10in screens, and the 8in version is the first we've seen. We're fans of 8in tablets, as they're more compact than a 10in tablet but have around 30 per cent more screen area than a 7in model, so make browsing the web significantly more comfortable.
Considering the Tab 4's price, we were disappointed to see that it only has a 1,280x800-pixel display rather than the 1,920x1,200 pixels we're used to seeing on tablets at this price, such as the £179 8in Dell Venue 8 Android and 7in Google Nexus 7. The Tab 4's 1,280x800 resolution is fine for browsing web pages in desktop mode, but text isn’t as sharp and defined as on tablets with higher resolutions.
Lack of Full HD aside, it's a reasonable screen, and we particularly liked the purity of its whites. Images lacked a bit of punch, though, and this was backed up by the relatively low contrast ratio of 573:1 we recorded with our colour calibrator.
The latest version of Chrome seems to have a problem with the Sunspider benchmark, but we found the sub-par score didn’t generally translate into poor web browsing performance. We could scroll around web pages without much lag, and subjectively there wasn't much difference between the Tab 4's web browsing performance and that of the Google Nexus 7. However, the Tab 4 was generally slower to render web pages; a page on the Guardian website, for example, took 14s to render on Samsung's tablet, compared to 12s on the Dell Venue 8 Android and Google Nexus 7.
When we reviewed the Dell Venue 8 Android, we were generally impressed with the performance from its Intel Atom processor, with one exception: gaming. Despite the tablet showing good results in 3D benchmarks, we noticed that some games just didn’t render properly on the tablet, with the intro sequence for Assassin's Creed: Pirates, for example, being particularly broken (Pirates no longer appears in the Google Play store when accessed from the Dell tablet).
The Tab 4 has no such problems with rendering, but its SOC's graphics processor is, by current standards, slow. It managed just 2,871 in the 3DMark Ice Storm Extreme test, which compares poorly with the 7,154 from the year-old Nexus 7. The difference this made in games was easy to spot. In Real Racing 3, the graphics were set to a low level automatically, with effects such as the rear-view mirror being absent.
In Assassin's Creed Pirates, the Tab 4 rendered the game at a lower resolution than its native 1,280x800, and textures and lighting effects were far lower quality than on the Google Nexus 7. This is certainly not the tablet for you if you want to make the most of Android games.
Assassin's Creed Pirates has much lower detail levels on the Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 (above) than on the Google Nexus 7 (below)
The Tab 4 has Samsung's TouchWiz interface, which is significantly different from stock Android. Some people object to Samsung's round, colourful icons, but we don’t mind them particularly. TouchWiz brings some advantages. The keyboard is versatile, with a handy dedicated number row not present in standard Android. There's also a useful multitasking mode. Certain apps can be run one alongside each other, so you can write an email while looking at Google Maps, for example.
We still think taking photos on a tablet makes you look silly, but you're more likely to take snaps on an 8in tablet than a 10in one. Unfortunately, the Tab 4 8.0's camera is its weakest aspect. A 3-megapixel resolution is very low by current standards, and its photos are poor, looking blurry and indistinct, if at least well-exposed.
The Galaxy Tab 4 8.'s 3-megapixel camera is its weakest aspect
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 8.0 is by no means a bad tablet, thanks to fairly snappy Android performance, some useful operating system tweaks and above-average battery life. However, we don’t think it does enough for the price. The Dell Venue 8 Android is cheaper and has a higher-resolution screen, so is our choice for an 8in Android tablet (as long as you're not interested in games). If you’d like to play the latest 3D titles on your tablet and can handle a slightly smaller screen, the Google Nexus 7 remains the model to buy.
|Processor||1.2GHz quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 400|
|Front camera||1.3 megapixel|
|Rear camera||3 megapixel|
|Memory card slot (supplied)||MicroSD (none)|
|Wireless data||4G +£100|
|Operating system||Android 4.4|