Samsung is gaining on Apple in the tablet world, and there are many reasons why. Or we should say many devices why. While Apple sells just two sizes of the iPad, from $299 up to $499, Samsung offers a much broader range of options, from the small and affordable $169 Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 on up to the ultra-premium $549 Galaxy Note 10.1. In between you'll find everything from a 7-inch kids tablet and two 8-inch models to a 10-device that undercuts the iPad Air by $140.
Here's another advantage for Samsung. The company offers a similar design and software experience across its top-selling phones and tablets, making the transition feel seamless. Plus, you can use your Samsung slate as a remote control for your TV and enjoy Multi Window split-screen multitasking (on higher-end models). However, while Samsung tablets are worth buying, others fall flat compared to the competition. Use this breakdown before you shop.
Which Samsung Tablet Is Best for You?
By Mark Spoonauer, Editor-in-Chief — Last Updated: December 10, 2013
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 ($159)
Available for just $159, the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is an entry-level Android tablet running 4.1.2 Jelly Bean. The main highlight is the WatchOn feature, which allows you to use this slate's built-in IR blaster as a TV remote. The app recommends shows for you to watch based on your tastes. The Tab 3 7.0 is also fairly light at 10.7 ounces. However, the low-res 1024 x 600-pixel screen and 1.2-GHz dual-core processor trail cheaper competitors like the $139 ASUS MeMo Pad HD7 (1280 x 800 pixels, quad-core CPU). Overall, this tablet is a decent option for bargain hunters who prefer Samsung's design and software.
Bottom Line: Consider It
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 Kids ($219)
This colorful tablet for children has the same specs as its cheaper brother but adds a plethora of preloaded educational games, entertainment and e-book apps. There's also a new Kid's Store and a Time Management feature that lets parents set usage periods. However, the much cheaper Amazon Kindle Fire ($139) has a sharper display and a more robust FreeTime feature that goes further with a built-in reward system. The Fuhu Nabi 2 ($187) also sports a better screen and faster CPU for less money. The Tab 3 7.0 Kids isn't a bad option, but it's too pricey for what it delivers.
Bottom Line: Skip It
One of the better tablet values, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 costs $50 less than the first-generation iPad mini and boasts a sharper 1280 x 800-pixel display. This Android tablet also features a built-in WatchOn remote for controlling your TV and finding good stuff to watch. And, unlike the iPad, you can expand the memory on this tablet via the microSD Card slot. In our review, we appreciated the Multi Window feature, which lets you run two apps on the screen at once. The dual-core Exynos processor and 1.5GB of RAM keep things running smoothly, and there's a solid 5-MP camera on board. Add in 8.5 hours of battery life and the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is a very good midsize tablet.
Verdict: Buy It
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 Full Review
The first Samsung Android tablet powered by an Intel processor, the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 has plenty of things going for it. The lightweight 1.1-pound design makes this one of the most portable big-screen tablets, and the 1280 x 800-pixel display is quite bright. The Tab 3 10.1 is also quite the entertainer, thanks to its loud speakers and built-in WatchOn TV remote. However, this slate lacks the Multi Window multitasking of its 8-inch sibling, and its Atom CPU exhibited noticeable lag in our testing.
Verdict: Skip It
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 Full Review
With its built-in S Pen, the Galaxy Note 8 is an excellent Android tablet for productivity and is the perfect size for bringing to meetings or to class. You can take notes, sketch and draw, and use a growing selection of pen-enabled apps on the vibrant 1280 x 800-pixel screen. Powered by a quad-core Exynos CPU and 2GB of RAM, the Note 8 delivers silky smooth performance along with a microSD Card slot for expanding your storage. A built-in TV remote and versatile multitasking features make this 8-incher a compelling choice.
Verdict: Buy It
Samsung Galaxy Note 8 Full Review
An excellent premium tablet for productivity and entertainment, the Galaxy Note 10.1 sports an elegant faux leather stitched back that looks like a portfolio. The front looks even better, with a very sharp 2560 x 1600-pixel screen that trumps the iPad Air's resolution (2048 x 1536). The best reason to get this Android tablet is the S Pen, which comes with a new Air Command menu that provides easy access to multiple stylus-powered apps. Action Menu is our favorite tool, because it recognizes data in your scribbles (like addresses and phone numbers). A 1.9-GHz Exynos CPU and 3GB of RAM enable new multitasking tricks, such as the ability to drag and drop content between two open apps.
Verdict: Buy It
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Full Review