For those deciding on a tablet that'll get them through the day at the same time as it's able to fit in their satchel, Samsung hasn't made things easy. With the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, you've got two machines with exceedingly similar specifications to decide between. What we've got to check this afternoon is how the two make their mark in the world - and if it really is all about the S-Pen in the end.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 works with an 8-inch display with a 1280 x 800 pixel resolution, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 carries the same size and pixel density - they're effective the same in day-to-day use, while the subtle differences in software will make the tiniest of differences up-close. You'll find the font and the shadows to be ever-so-slightly different from one another: but you'll never notice unless you hold them up RIGHT next to one another, so no worries.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 works with 16GB internal storage with a microSD card slot for memory expansion. The Note 8.0 works with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean and works with a Samsung Exynos quad-core processor internationally and in its Wi-fi iteration and a Qualcomm Snapdragon quad-core processor as carried by AT&T with 4G LTE. Meanwhile the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 works with a dual-core Samsung Exynos 4 processor.
Have a peek at how these machines fare in the benchmark scores listed below. They're all knocked out with Quadrant Standard benchmark tests with the newest software available, Jelly Bean and TouchWiz included.
External speaker performance on both of these machines are essentially the same - they're both mediocre if only because the speakers themselves are blowing out the sides the devices rather than the front. We must again assume it's because thinness is more important than speaker performance as both of these devices are so extremely thin, it'd be difficult to toss a front-facing speaker anywhere. *cough* HTC One *cough*
Battery performance on both devices are essentially the same - it's only 4G LTE on the Galaxy Note (that'll eventually find its way to the Galaxy Tab, of course) that has any push on the battery life involved here - and it's marginal unless you're doing non-stop video streaming all day long.
Above: Samsung Galaxy S 4, Galaxy Note 8.0, Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, and Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 (from top to bottom).
The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 comes in at 8.26 x 4.87 x 0.275 inches with a weight at 10.9 ounces. The Galaxy Note 8.0 comes in at 8.29 x 5.35 x 0.31 inches and 12 ounces. The difference is almost solely in the amount of bezel required with the Samsung Galaxy Note - likely mostly because of the grip area it provides for holding the device whilst writing with the S-Pen and to give the device room to hold the S-Pen in its back.
While the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 is essentially a non-performer when it comes to capturing video and photos, the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 brings some low-level heat. Though you're still just working with a 5-megapixel camera at this device's back, you've got autofocus and auto adjustment to lighting conditions, backed up by Samsung's most basic edition of its new camera UI. Included here are Auto, Beauty Face, Night, Sports Shot, Panorama, and "Sound & Shot". Have a peek at a panorama here for an example of what this device is capable of, followed by several indoor and outdoor shots.
Click panorama photo for full-sized image.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 brings on an exceedingly similar setup, bringing on photo and video abilities with its back-facing 5-megapixel camera (the same as the Galaxy Tab 8.0 here) also without an LED flash. While the Galaxy Note 8.0 has the same previous-generation camera interface as the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 at the moment, we're expecting an update to the current generation imminently.
Software - a non-issue
When you're deciding between the Note 8.0 and the Tab 3 8.0 based on software, you're really going to have to focus to find the differences. Both devices are part of the Samsung Galaxy S 4 era of smart devices, so both are able to connect with essentially the same software suite of wireless sharing apps from Samsung. Group Play specifically shows how these devices are able to interact with one-another in a variety of ways that non-Samsung devices currently can't - or at least can't with the same finesse.
NOTE: While the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 does not feature the app "Samsung Link", the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 does. This is a situation rather similar to that of the devices' camera interfaces - where the 10.1 uses the same camera UI and abilities as the previous generation model, the 8.0 works with a Galaxy S 4 interface, derived from the Samsung Galaxy Camera.
Both devices bring on a free 50GB for 2 years through Dropbox for cloud storage while each different release of these devices has its own perks on the side. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 has a free three months of Hulu Plus as part of its benefits package, so to speak, along with a $10 card from the Google Play store through Samsung's "Galaxy Perks" program.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 works with a variety of S-Pen specific apps as outlined in our original Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 hands-on and later our full review (as linked above). This device's attachment to said apps is rather crucial in proving a set of selling points for this device while the Tab appears in quite a few places - though not everywhere - to be winning the race on hardware aesthetics.
Both machines work with a new enough version of Android Jelly Bean that you'll have access to Google Now, and both machines have Samsung's S-Voice for voice commands as well.
While the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0's current wi-fi-only price range at $299 seems enticing compared to the last several years of $400 or more on tablets of all sizes as a standard, it's the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0's $399.99 (or it's current sale price of $379.99) we're doing battle with. If on the other hand you'll be wanting to access mobile data with AT&T here in the USA, you've also got a $399.99 price tag with a 2-year contract to agree to to boot!
Of course there's also an AT&T bundle price available at $199.99 for the Note 8.0, but then you're still attached to a 2-year contract and you'll have to also purchase a Samsung Galaxy S 4, Galaxy S 4 Active, or Galaxy Note II along with it. Good news is they all look rather nice next to one another.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is far more powerful than the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 with a processor that's made to handle this device as a real hero product. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 works with a dual-core Samsung Exynos 4 processor which we've found to be ever-so-slightly lacking in the high-level processing department - there the Tab is better suited for everyday web browsing and the occasional media consumption in the form of streaming video.
While the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 may have a slightly larger bezel and therefor appear - at first - to be the lesser of the two tablets, in every other category this machine excels. If you're looking for the tablet that can do more, last longer, and will likely find its way into the hearts of developers longer, you'll want to stick with the Galaxy Note 8.0 in this case. The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 should only be chosen where price or availability are especially major factors.