Samsung’s tablets are often reliable, even in their budget A series.
The last review of the year, and it has been released late! Consider it my first review of 2023. I am usually skeptical of tablets because they are often clunky. However, one exception to that is Samsung. Even during the dark days of Android tablets, during the pre-pandemic era, Samsung’s tablets, including the budget A-series, have been proven to be reliable. It’s a Samsung. That’s to be expected.
- 10.5in. WUXGA (1920x1200px) TFT LCD, 216ppi
- UNISOC Tiger T618 (12nm)
- 8MP (Primary)
- FRONT: 5MP
- OneUI 4 based on Android 12 (as of December 31, 2022)
- 7040mAh, 15W fast charging
- USB-C, Quad Speakers, MicroSD Card Slot, 3.5mm jack
- Wi-Fi only, Bluetooth 5.0, Dual-band Wi-Fi
- PRICE (as of December 31, 2022)
The tablet came with a plain white box with the device name on it. The inside contains the tablet obviously, as well as some paperwork, the 15W charger and cable, card ejector, and a pair of cheap earphones. While some of you might say this a great addition considering manufacturers don’t include headphones anymore, let me tell you, Samsung may have only added it there just because.
The 2021 version of the Galaxy Tab A8 upgrades from its predecessor by using an all-metal chassis; weirdly, except for the power button and volume rockers. These buttons are made of plastic and they wear out rapidly. I suggest using gestures or on-screen navigations for taking a screenshot, powering off, or adjusting volume unless necessary.
This new iteration also switched from a square camera to a rounded one and the tablet is now aligned horizontally by default. So you would see the front camera aligned at the middle side instead of the top. There is also a noticeable thin line that divides the two-tone grey colour of the device which is a nice touch too.
Overall, the tablet feels solid in the hand, has a good grip, and feels more linear to the Galaxy Tab S series. This makes the A series much more accurate to its values: A more affordable S-series tablet.
As a Samsung device, it runs Samsung’s skin called OneUI. Initially, the tablet ran OneUI 3.0 based on Android 11. Now it runs OneUI 4 based on Android 12. It’s pretty surprising how this one still received one major update.
Upon activating the tablet, you will be met with bloatware. These include apps from Samsung and apps from Microsoft due to an exclusive partnership. Thankfully, most of these apps can be uninstalled. The tablet also has Netflix and Spotify built-in.
Tradition to Samsung UIs, OneUI has the app drawer active by default. You can turn it into an iOS clone by turning this feature off. The interface would also rearrange depending on the tab’s orientation.
The tablet offers a multi-window experience. I honestly found it complicated at first but the more I use it, the easier it gets. Take note that not all apps support multi-windows. Apps like Canva and Word can be used together. Windowed apps can be resized or set aside. This does not strain the tablet as much and you could interact with both apps at the same time.
As a budget tablet, it does not offer things a Galaxy Tab S does, such as pen support, Samsung Knox, and Samsung DeX. Meaning, you could not encrypt and secure your apps as the Tab S can, nor can you transform the tablet into a PC natively. You could download a third-party app to make that work thankfully. We’re not expecting magnets either, being a budget device. So there are none here.
OneUI is one of the smoothest UIs I have ever tested. Unlike the others, this one has a clean and attractive design that is easy on the eyes. The UI is also constantly getting updated and optimized so even if you only have 4GB RAM, the tablet won’t fail you. OneUI is one of the major reasons I went ahead with a Samsung tablet and is also one of the reasons why I’m less dubious when Samsung makes tablets. The experience is a breeze.
By the way, I had to use a third-party app to take screenshots. Because, for some odd reason, the tablet does not offer that functionality. A little infuriating since that’s a basic feature for a long time now.
The Tab A8 features a 10.5in. IPS LCD with 1920x1200px resolution. It has an aspect ratio of 16:10 and is almost bezel-less. These aspects make the tablet a perfect alternative versus bulkier laptops when watching movies. Another advantage is that it is Widevine L1 certified. This means that you could watch protected content from streaming services like Netflix in high resolutions. This includes 4K as well.
While the display is one of the tablet’s greatest strengths, it is also, ironically, its greatest weakness. Samsung cut corners by using an outdated TFT screen. This means colour reproduction is lacking, the screen is very hard to use under direct sunlight, and viewing angles are abysmal.
On the other hand, Samsung is transparent enough to let you know. Others would tell you that their tablet uses a superior IPS LCD screen but it doesn’t.
The Galaxy Tab A8 uses a UNISOC Tiger T618 chipset with 4GB RAM and 64GB storage, an unusual move for Samsung. We’re not sure if this was because of the chip shortage or if the chipset is optimized. Still, we expected at least a MediaTek or Qualcomm chip, so this does raise some eyebrows as UNISOC is not as popular as the latter two.
To give you an idea of what this chipset is, the UNISOC Tiger T618 is a 12nm octa-core chipset featuring two 2GHz Cortex-A75 performance CPUs and six 2GHz Cortex-A55 efficiency CPUs. It uses an Arm Mali G52MP2 GPU. In theory, the performance of this chip is somewhere in between the Qualcomm Snapdragon 662 and the MediaTek Helio G80.
To my shock, the tablet performed smoothly. I did not experience any sort of lagging when playing through most of the games I installed, except the heavy ones. In particular, the tablet has settings for Ultra in Mobile Legends as well as a High Frame Rate. That is an achievement considering this only has 4GB RAM and 64GB storage.
I also tried playing Real Racing 3. It did hiccup at some point but still, the race I did is pretty smooth. Nothing disruptive to ruin the experience. The tablet can breeze through multi-tasking as well. The Tab A8 breezes through any task you throw at it and can handle multiple tabs of apps that open just fine. It will only struggle if you really push it to the limits, such as playing the most intensive games like Genshin Impact.
Below are the benchmark scores. Benchmark scores should not be 100% relied upon when determining actual performance:
- AnTuTu 9.4.3: 200,764
- Geekbench 5: 371 (Single Core) 1285 (Multi-core)
- Geekbench 5 (Vulkan, GPU): 1028
- 3DMark (Wild Life): 725
- 3DMark (Sling Shot): 2117
When I tested the tablet through 3DMark, it gave pretty disappointing frames. Both the Wild Life and Sling Shot tests lasted for about 10 minutes, and the tablet produced an abysmal average of 15fps.
According to GeekBench, the Galaxy Tab A8 does not support OpenGL apparently, so only the Vulkan API for GPUs was tested. Regardless, these benchmark scores are actually not that bad. 200K points on AnTuTu for a budget chipset is more than I could give credit for.
Tablets are not really known for their cameras. The circular camera found here is just an aesthetic change. The Tab A8 retained the same 8MP rear and 5MP front as its 2019 predecessor.
Photos taken with the Tab A8 are mediocre. It’s what I expected anyway. There is a noticeable lack of colour and grain even during the day. Of course, if photo quality is not on par during the day, the night shots are even worse.
The front camera? We have nothing to say about it except that the photos are also of low quality. It’s okay for video calling, but as a selfie shooter? Not really.
However, what I found surprising is the portrait mode. This lacks a secondary camera and it has to rely on AI and background detection. It’s also a hit-and-miss. There are very noticeable artifacts towards the picture and even during the daylight, the result remained grainy and soft. It is okay for social media posting though.
The Galaxy Tab A8 is equipped with a 7,040mAh battery and supports up to 15W of charging. This battery is considered large by several professional reviewers but I honestly expected something larger, about 8000mAh maybe.
The tablet was supplied with a 15W brick and USB-C cable. This cable can also be used to transfer data. Most smartphones would come with at least 4500mAh battery and the minimum charging speed is 18W. Now, with only 15W and a pretty large battery, this will definitely not struggle, surely.
The battery would drain fast when it’s on standby, even at half brightness. I noticed my tablet fully charged and then when I checked the next morning, only half is left. That’s not a good sign. Thankfully, there’s an easy way to fix this. Simply turn off all notifications, make sure the tablet is closed or has a fast sleep time, darken the brightness, and kill all notifications and apps in the background. It is also a good idea to turn on power saving mode as this will help with the longevity. These cost processing power, which in turn, costs energy. It’s best to turn it off when not in use.
On regular usage, however, to my surprise, it maintained a good battery life because I was able to watch a full 2-hour movie alongside two 2-hour streams and play games and I was able to have about 40% left. Interestingly, it seems that the tablet lasts longer when it has about 5% battery as I was able to finish a half-hour stream when it reached that mark. That’s three streams in total!
As always, I put the battery to the test through PCMark’s Work 3.0 Battery Life test. This will consume the battery from at least 80% (here, it was 100% charged) down to 20%, then it will determine battery endurance. PCMark reported 8 hours and 10 minutes which is nothing special as most phones with smaller batteries can last up to 11 hours on average. Then again, benchmark scores are not always reliable when it comes to real-world usage.
The tablet has a solid battery life, I would say. However, 15W is not enough when you’re in a hurry and you forgot to charge it overnight. In my test, it took 4.5 hours just to get this tablet from an empty battery to full. That’s not a good sign.
The Galaxy Tab A8 uses a quad-speaker system equipped with Dolby Atmos. This is the tablet’s biggest strength that compensates for its terrible display. These speakers are immersive, almost theater-like which is really impressive for a budget device. This applies to games as well. The Dolby Atmos tuning really helps out with the improved sound. Even in higher volumes, there’s little to no deterioration.
The tablet has a headphone jack, located terribly at the farthest bottom left corner. It is usable but due to the large size, I really will not recommend using wired earphones on this. It’s better to be safe and pull out.
Initially, the Galaxy Tab A8 ran on OneUI Core 3 based on Android 11. However, during this review, the device got updated to OneUI 4 based on Android 12. It doesn’t stop there, I still continue to receive security updated even after getting one major upgrade. In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting any major upgrade for the tablet. Samsung did not announce this on their website. It’s a great sustainable move for Samsung and a surprise, but a welcome one.
The tablet is constantly nagging me to update to the October 2022 security update. This may not be the last update and I have been lazy lately in updating. That’s my own fault though.
HAPTIC FEEDBACK & EXPERIENCE:
Due to how big the tablet is and how it is oriented in landscape by default, I am having a hard time typing words. This is just my experience, I have gotten so used to tall smartphones that screens this large makes it hard for me to slide, type, or move around. Quite ironic no?
However, the store we bought it from did give us a free Samsung keyboard (Samsung Smart Keyboard Trio 500). The store also gave us a Samsung-branded case that symbiotically works with the tablet. The case has a kickstand and a flap, so you can easily rest it on a table and it’s adjustable too.
The keyboard is not an attachment. It is a separate Bluetooth keyboard designed for Android use. This makes typing way easier and I made fewer spelling errors. So I’m happy that the store gave us useful freebies.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is a pretty solid tablet. Its premium design makes it work well among corporate and school environments. It has a pretty large screen which may be outdated but this is offset by its nearly bezel-less display and powerful and immersive speakers with Dolby Atmos tuning. Also, the tablet has a surprisingly good battery life which offsets the terrible charging speeds.
Some may consider the tablet pricey because it only offers 4GB RAM and 64GB storage. But if you think outside of it, it is a worthy investment because Samsung supports the tablet well. It even managed to get one major upgrade which I was not honestly expecting, considering the price.
The lack of storage is what limits the tablet to be used effectively. Samsung is offering a 128GB version with LTE, so at least it partially solves that problem but you got to spend about Php 3K more to obtain it.
There may be better tablets, such as the Mi Pad 5 with better configurations, display, and chipset, and the Lenovo XiaoXin Pad which offers a more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 680G and 6/128 configuration. However, that tablet is intended to be sold in China only and Lenovo only modified it to have global ROM, so customer support may be questionable.
Indeed, the Tab A8 is a worthy entertainment powerhouse thanks to its large battery and large display, it’s really good for watching streams and movies with it and we definitely recommend getting one.
- Large, nearly bezel-less 10.5-inch display makes for a good watching experience
- Widevine L1 certification allows you to stream 1080p or higher-res content
- The entire body is made of metal, accounting for a premium experience despite its budget price.
- Excellent battery life
- Surprisingly decent performance despite only having 4GB RAM and 64GB storage
- Continuous software updates. Can be upgraded to Android 12
- OneUI, as always, looks polished, clean, and attractive to look at
- Immersively loud Dolby Atmos-enhanced Quad speakers
- Expandable via MicroSD Card
- Uses an outdated TFT screen with terrible colour reproduction and viewing angles
- Abysmal charging time
- Weak front and rear cameras that produce grainy and soft photos even during the day.
- Stock storage configuration is inefficient. Thankfully there’s a 128GB version with LTE so you can make calls as well.
The tablet has been delisted from Samsung’s website. However, it may still be available in Samsung’s concept stores. It is still listed among third-party sellers like Rull’s and MemoExpress. You could purchase it through Lazada and Shopee along with its 4/128 LTE variant. Depending on the store, you may get different freebies. Prices start at Php 13,990. The 4/128 version costs Php 18,990.
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