Samsung Galaxy Tab Review

galaxy tab review

Let’s just get it out of the way: the Samsung Galaxy Tab is the first Android tablet worth anyone’s money. It really is, but whether or not you should spend the money on it is the real question. With a 7-inch screen, 1GHz Hummingbird processor, front and rear cameras, the Galaxy Tab promises a lot, and for the most part delivers.

The Galaxy Tab has one goal alone, and that is to prove that Android 2.2 functions on a tablet despite what Google says. OK, it also has the goal of dethroning the iPad as the go-to tab on the market, but frankly that just isn’t happening. The Galaxy Tab excels as a web viewer and eReader, and media and gaming on the slate work out pretty smoothly. Under low use the battery lasts quite a while, but heavy use will see it drain steadily and surely. The size is just right for portability, but ends up feeling a bit constricted.

While my time with the Galaxy Tab often had me saying “oh, I could really use this,” I found that I hardly ever felt a desire to pick the thing up other than forcing myself to. Perhaps its that I’m not in the habit of having a tablet device in my arsenal of tech, but just maybe it’s because the Tab doesn’t fill the void between the smartphone and laptop as well as it could.

The Pros:

  • Size is great for portability, and build quality is as rigid as a Samsung device has ever felt. The hardware is excellent and runs Android 2.2 with TouchWiz smoother than ever.
  • Web browsing is a dream with fast page loads and smooth scrolling/zooming. The screen real estate makes enough of a difference that browsing on a smartphone just won’t cut it anymore.
  • Front-facing camera opens up two-way video chat, which is a cool feature but depends on how much you would use it.

The Cons:

  • There are moment where we definitely feel that Android 2.2 is not for tablets. Some applications are shrunk down and don’t use the full breadth of the screen, the whole thing feels like a big phone without the ability to make calls.
  • Not enough done with the interface to differentiate from Samsung’s Galaxy S line of phones. Hopefully future updates will bring Android Honeycomb to round out the tablet.

The Bottom Line:

If you absolutely can’t wait any longer for an Android tablet or have fond stirrings for Samsung’s TouchWiz, by all means you will want the Galaxy Tab. If, on the other hand, you would rather wait for a device that truly captures the essence of Android in tablet form you may be better served waiting it out. It’s a tough call, especially with the high price the Tab is sold at and the carrier subsidies that go along with it.

We recommend it with that caveat, but Samsung has really outdone themselves here.

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  • hotmann

    Reading this makes me all the more happy to have gotten the streak…once 3.0 hits then maybe I’ll reconsider the true android tablet idea

  • Thor

    Yeah, its worth your money if you enjoy just burning it.

    I’ve owned it, this review makes it sound much nicer than it is.

  • JRDroid

    I’ll stick with my rooted nook color. My phone has cameras if I want to video chat and gps if i want to navigate. My nook can do pretty much everything else the tab can and I get an extra 250-350 in my pocket. And rooting the nook color is easy now, not difficult and risky like it was at first. All you do is use winimage to write a file to an SD card, put SD card in your nook color, plug nook color into computer, turn on nook color and watch the magic happen.

  • http://zalzalaweb.com/jens anakin78z

    I’ve had my Tab for over a month now, and I’ve found that it’s the one device I use more than any other. I hardly ever use my phone anymore, other than to make phone calls. The Tab is easy enough to carry everywhere, so I do. Everything is easier to use on the larger screen, and while everything might not be perfect with it, I find that I absolutely love it, and am really happy I got it.

  • Steve

    These are a total waste of money . I owned a Galaxy tab for exactly 4 hours and could not get it back to the store fast enough to retrieve my $600.00 . I can buy a much more useful and functional laptop for the same money with 100 times the storage and much larger screen etc etc . Its a gimmick at best and all would be much better suited to keep there money in there pockets and stay away from this oversized overpriced cell phone with a few added bells and whistles

  • Nlsme

    The extra 2.7 inches is not enough for me to spend 600 bucks. I’ll stock with my dx until moto makes a proper tab.

  • Joker

    no one cares that you have the nook dude those things suck anyway I got one a returned it right away. If this was a review on the nook then I would welcome it but for you to sit here and say Ill stick with my nook like your cool or something move on buddy no one cares that your poor

  • Nlsme

    @joker, nobody cares that you don’t care.

  • TREE

    ITS A WASTE OF X NOT ONLY CUZ ITS ANOTHER BILL ITS BECUASE DA BITCH DONT HAVE NO INSURANCE, DAT I EXPECTED IF IM ON A CARRIER PLAN Y N DA HELL I CAN GET INSURANCE.

  • Mark WaitingItOut

    I’m waiting it out. Why pay $500 for something less than an iPad? Why not wait until there is some real competition, like in the early PC days, and buy a tablet with an open OS for under $250?

  • Joker

    You must haha

  • Joker

    Ipad is way better than this and everything that a android tab has to offer at this moment.

  • VerizonFreak

    I agree with the Nookcolor much better bang for the buck.

  • nisme Mom

    If the Ipad had a usb connection it would be raw but they failed now the Ipad 2 is going to have that plus cameras so looks like once again android is to slow

  • Joker

    I am telling you right now the nook sucks its sluggish at best the touch screen is not responsive. The UI interface is not friendly at all. It was just tough to use and this is coming from a OG droid rooted person. So I like to get my hands dirty :)

  • http://Phandroid Electronics

    I have an evo, droid 2 and an I pad and I find myself using the galaxy tab more often than any of my other devices for web browsing. Screen is a good size, after using the tab phones just seem too small. With flash, I haven’t turned on I pad in a few week now. The price is a lil steep but if u have the money, in my opinion it’s a nice device.

  • disgruntledvibrantuser

    honeycomb!!
    you must be kidding..

    i have a vibrant which is most of the times very laggy and unresponsive and though it has a 1ghz processor, you cant get the performance out of it as I am stuck with android 2.1!!

    so its very safe to say.. you can perhaps dream of honeycomb for the galaxy tab!! (dream and dream only… guranteed)

  • http://www.teardropcity.com teardropcity

    I have a Galaxy Tab and I love it. I use it at home, for sitting on the couch or being in bed. I installed the Spare Parts app from the market, which automatically sizes any application to the screen size. I installed Dolphin HD, which works great for the screen size, with real tabbed browsing, and is much more enjoyable to use then the stock one. I installed Launcher Pro, which was faster and smoother than the Touch Wiz, but I recently added GDE home, set to the cubed animation, and it works great. It does everything that my Droid X does, but bigger, which is what I wanted out of a tablet.

  • jerbear

    “maybe it’s because the Tab doesn’t fill the void between the smartphone and laptop as well as it could.”

    See, that’s just it. There really is no void between my smart phone and my notebook. Until I start to see slates that can really take the place of notebooks I can’t see myself spending $600+ on one. It’s getting there but it’s not quite there yet. Maybe in a year or so when stuff like the HP Slate has improved I can see retiring my laptop and getting a tablet but until then there just isn’t that much need for a device that’s essentially a 2.7″ larger version of my Evo.

  • faugusztin

    Ehm…

    “the whole thing feels like a big phone without the ability to make calls.”

    The only problem with this statement is that Samsung Galaxy Tab DOES make calls. Oh wait, you are talking about the cripled and dumbed down USA version ? But you know, USA does not equal to “whole world”.

    “There are moment where we definitely feel that Android 2.2 is not for tablets. Some applications are shrunk down and don’t use the full breadth of the screen,”

    As few said before, Spare Parts is your friend.

    “Not enough done with the interface to differentiate from Samsung’s Galaxy S line of phones”
    Do they need to ? What UI difference a tablet needs ? What difference is between the UI of iPhone and iPad ?

  • dork

    sorry, but i think tabs are pretty stupid. i played with it a couples, the thing is super slow, i just dont think its worth spending 6 bills on it, just to adjust it. i hate ipads and i hate tablets even more, but if i had to choose i would def choose an ipad. also if i needed a non making phone call huge sized phone, i would get a laptop.

  • ROGERATM

    I think the review was objective. However I have one, and use it continually. I think it could be better but I also prefer using it for many tasks that I previously used a laptop for; and almost anything I used a Netbook for.

    The review mentioned small screen images; those are because some third party software development is behind, not because of Tab design. Remember, those issues also existed with early iPads.

    I used it to do a Powepoint presentation, connected to a projector. This impressed the other computer geeks after I included Flash video. Try that on an IPad!

  • http://www.humidorsandmore.com J Kane

    I can see how tabs may work for some people, but for most it’s just a luxury item and not really worth the $500. Particularly if it’s on a tab that doesn’t do the job as good as the competition.

  • Dave

    This should be $250 max with just wifi given the cost of the Nook Color. The web scrolling looked horrible with flash activated. Very jerky.

  • cee

    Ipad has nothin on the Tab but just a name. The iPad is very restricted and cost money just as much a the Tab. $829 dollars for a 64gb ipad w/ wifi and no cameras! C’mon man! I like my sprint Galaxy Tab. I can do a lot with my Tab. Thanks to XDA I can now make and receive PHONE CALLS with my Tab. Now what! Some people just don’t know the full potential of this device. People are complaining about the price. Wait till the new tech arrives next year. I guarantee you that it won’t be cheap either. Tegra 2, dual core phones and tablets etc. That shit will cost more than 600 bucks. You will be lucky if the new Tablets will be subsidized. And rumor is that Apple is producing a 7in iPad. Samsung must be doing something right.

  • dork

    sorry samsung=crap

  • aquinoent

    I’ve had my Galaxy Tab for over 2 weeks now. I’m getting more and more disappointed the more I use it. First, Android 2.2 is not for tablets, yet this thing was released. Should’ve done my due diligence there. Alot of selling point functions don’t work since its running 2.2 (i.e. video chat, nevermind that there isn’t an official video chat app available for it). Samsung support site sucks. Get a bunch of canned responses to most questions.
    My best experiences with it so far are: Media Hub for renting movies, Games, browsing, email, Kindle & Goog Maps
    Disappointments: No folder organization for apps, Yahoo Messenger Vid Chat-no workie, Many apps are not compatible.

    I’ll probably end up keeping it with the hopes that 2.3 really makes this a great device. So far, after using it for browsing sites with flash images and video, it is hard to go back to browsing and reading my RSS feeds on my iPhone. Flash was one of my top reasons for buying this thing and I haven’t been disappointed there. So far, it’s been a great browser and email tool. But that’s about it!

  • HappyTabUser

    As the happy owner of a tab for a month now I can say it fits my needs perfectly. But I have rather singular needs: instant power one, ultra-portability, read emails, web browsing, basic note taking, vpn to office, RDP client for remote desktop , watching movies, remote viewer for home web cam, and listening to music while commuting 1.5 hrs each way on the train every day and quick web browsing and remote stereo control while in my kitchen. I probably use my tab about 4hrs total every day. Tried the laptop (too big and heavy for commute), netbook (frustrating, too slow and wannabe pc), IPad (too big for commuting and one hand use, no flash, no vpn to office), and a droid and nexus 1 (both too small) for the above and they all had too many shortcomings. For me it just works. Of course, i’ll probably upgrade it in Q1 when the next latest and greatest tab comes out.
    Personally, its perfect for what I need.

  • terri

    I got mine for $350 and a free My Touch. A great deal!

  • http://www.andrudes.com Andrude

    The Galaxy Tab is a slick tablet, but I’m holding out for the Notion Ink Adam (actually, I preordered). The first unboxing has occurred ! http://androidcommunity.com/notion-ink-adam-unboxing-ala-van-gunst-20101223/

  • Nerdrow

    Spare Parts = fullscreen. Qik or any video chat that works on any android phone = video chat. Rooted w/z4 root within 5 minutes of taking it out of the box, tethered to my D1 within 10 minutes. The stock launcher is slow, LauncherPro is not. HDMI out = win. It really is a huge phone, but then again I rarely use my laptop/desktop for anything except writing code anyway. Not sure what you guys are looking to do that you cant get done with this that actually makes sense to do on something other than a laptop. Mine was free :)

  • titterer

    I don’t understand the so-called cons:
    1) “There are moment where we definitely feel that Android 2.2 is not for tablets. Some applications are shrunk down and don’t use the full breadth of the screen”
    - This problem is not the Tab’s nor 2.2′s fault. It’s the developers of the individual apps who have not configured them for a device of the Tab’s size.
    2) “Not enough done with the interface to differentiate from Samsung’s Galaxy S line of phones”
    - As someone said before, why differentiate – just for the sake of it? That doesn’t make sense.

  • stephen

    Im getting an iPad for Christmas. I thought about the Tab, but it wasn’t big enough to replace my evo.

  • lunchbx

    Been using it over a month now. I found myself using it more and more. I wish the screen size be bigger. So if a 10 inch release next year, I would definitely get one.

  • kutsushita

    @cee
    Steve Jobs said a 7″ iPad will never happen but I guess someone who just spurts shit out without researching wouldn’t really give a damn.

    Anyhoo. I played with a tab for a bit at best buy mobile and I’ve got to say I’m extremely underwhelmed by it. It was slow and clunky, had no real solid weight feel, form factor was disgusting feeling, and the os just was off. I’d love to see android get a dedicated tablet os to blow apple out of the water but until that happens (along with a hardware maker that knows what the hell a good design is) I don’t see android making a good name for itself in the tablet field.

  • kattagara

    I could not wait, so I got Samsung Galaxy Tab on Oct22 by preorder?? I never regret buying it. Its almost perfect but nothing is ever perfect.Web browsing is very very FAST.Today my daughter sold her IPad and borrow my Galaxy Tab from Bangkok to vacation in Spain.

  • Aeires

    Love my Tab and looking forward to a handful of apps to be updated to run better on it. Having said that, almost all my apps do run on it very well, just a few games that don’t, which I can live with for now. The compatibility mode trick eliminates the wasted screen trick a lot. I do find myself reaching for it to do things that were a pain on a small phone screen. The extra size is great and the portability still makes it a great device to carry around, which I do at work a lot. First thing I did was load ADW Launcher, followed by Laputa reader. Both are awesome and make the large screen size a pleasure to work with. Overall, the Tab is a solid, beautiful device that’s great to use.

  • http://www.amplifiedanalytics.com piplzchoice

    Ultimately the customers will be the judges. At this point iPad seem to fend off the most successful challenger, Samsung Galaxy Tab, when it comes to their respective customer satisfaction levels. Your readers may be interested in our ongoing analysis of Samsung Galaxy Tablet customer’ reviews. We also compared their ratings to those of iPad.
    http://blog.amplifiedanalytics.com/2010/11/851/.
    We specialize in automated aggregation and analysis of customer reviews posted online, mining their opinions and quantifying qualitative information found there.

  • Mike Gaudiello

    I love Android. Let’s get that out of the way. I work with Android phones at work, I have a Nexus One that I got on release day with Cyanogen 6.1 currently.

    That said, you’d be a fool to buy a Galaxy Tab over an iPad right now. I in general loathe Apple products, but the iPad got it right, and Android on a tablet just doesn’t compete. I really want to see what Honeycomb has to offer, but as it stands, it’s a phone OS that doesn’t scale many apps properly on an oversized screen. Samsung had plenty of chances really wringing out potential from TouchWiz to make the Tab shine, but they plain did not.

    iPad or bust until Honeycomb. Ugh, and I hate to say that.

  • fer

    I have had mine for a week now and I am so happy with it. Haven’t touched my laptop and netbook since then and my smartphone gets used to receive calls while I migrate all my contacts to the galaxy tab. From my point of view this review is crap, the Tab is a great gadge to have and use.

  • Mark

    Another moron apple fanboy trying to bash Android. Synced I got the tab I haven’t picked up my laptop once. It fills the void between desktop and smartphone nicely. I love the size, speed, and ease of use. I will never buy another laptop. This device is worth buying. I use this more than my Nexus one, Nexus S, or Mytouch4g. Only a biased apple fanboy would talk badly about this excellent device. You will not regret buying the Tab.

  • Hex

    That thing is a total wast of money I’ll stick to mu iPad that ting seem to want to act like iPad but needs about 5 yrs more before it get close to it and we all know that.

  • http://www.bitsum.com Jeremy

    I have found that Samsung has actually incorporated some of the new Android 2.3 enhancements into their stock firmware. I noticed this in use, seeing features advertised only for v2.3. I suspect they utilized some 2.3 system components or applications.

    So, that CON may not be so much of a CON. Still, it is a CON for third-party apps that may not size right (not had any real problems with that but I suppose it could happen).

    Great device. It has inspired me.

  • faugusztin

    @Mike Gaudiello: let’s start that iPad is still not available worldwide. But ok, let’s forget about that. Scaling – i have yet to meet a app which doesn’t work right. Of course i don’t game on my Tab, so that can be a reason why.

    And then we have the weight issue. iPad has simply twice the weight of the Galaxy Tab.

  • red2erni

    If you get to this review you deserve actual information. I have 2 HTCs, DInc/Verizon & MT4G/TMo and a Vibrant and SNexusS also TMo, all unlocked and rooted except the MT4G. Only the SNexus S and the Tab seem lag free and the Tab runs Quadrants above 2200 regularly. The Tab also has no plan and no SIM so I use it at WiFi spots without any TMo minute charges. I’d say, free, but of course I pay a ton of $ to AT&T for my DSL/WiFi line so I’m glad to make all my home calls from my Tab over tcpip apps like Skype and Fring and Tango but I’d have to say, with three androids with front facing cameras, there is no good apk without a bloatware ISP apk to suck your minutes. But that is about to change and only on an Android, probably my SNexusS and probably only due to 2.2.1 which I just got OTA. The Tab still labors in the TMo klepto shaddow as does my poor Vibrant still back at 2.1. But the Tab will get a 2.2 ROM when they are ready. It is just larger than a comfortable one hand grip but it will fit my Levi’s back pocket so it goes everywhere. Swipe turns out to be truly great on the Tab and I much prefer text input on the Tab. Others mention brousing and reading. Its perfect for downloaded books. But the killer apk is Navigon with a silicone rubber sleeve so the Tab will jam into the dash/window and give me good GPS reception and Navigon 3D perspective navigating in the driving field of view with street and POIs I can read, so much better than my 4.3″ Garmmin or an in dash like my Prius.
    The Tab is the only gateway to mobile net without an ISP or Apple continuing toll tax. Its at the local maxima for the hand, portability and display information capacity.

  • http://Charter.net Margaret ann Larson

    Thanks teardrop.

  • http://Charter.net Margaret ann Larson

    Thanks teardropcity as im getting mine by ups on tuesday. I am going to love it alot. I know what to get on android next. So again thank you so much. Some of you others complain way to much. Why complain when you have something good. My nieces husband works for rim for blackberry research in motion so stop the complaints.

  • http://insidblog.com John Bell

    I totally love my Galaxy Tab, super portable, does everything I would want it to do and then some (way more features than iPad) and is way fast, I haven’t experienced any lag or crashing issues, the app store is great, apps all scale perfect for me, it’s just the right size..

    About the apps not scaling, you just have to turn off compatibility mode and they all fit, and it is an issue with developers which is being addressed with 2.3..

    super high pixel density makes an awesome screen viewing experience.. one of the better investments I’ve made..

    Samsung has a partnership with google too so it will be among the first to receive the 2.3 and future android updates

  • SuperflyTNT

    I have a Samsung Tab and I really enjoy using it. The 7 inch screen really hits a sweet spot for me.

    I happened to have bought a Blackberry Torch a few days before I got the Tab and I havent touched the Torch since I flashed the Tab and can now make phone calls on it. I am enjoying the Tab alot.

    Nice screen, love the google integration, fast and snappy performance. Email, web browsing, phone calls and texting are a breeze on it. I give the Tab 2 thumbs up :-)

  • Surya

    I have been using my Galaxy Tab for almost 2.5 months now. Without any doubt, it’s really nice one and I love it! It does many things, even things that iPad obviously can’t!!

  • zps

    i wish i could love the tab. since i have had it (t-mo version), it constantly crashes, requires reboots, and just plain fails to work in numerous ways. this instability makes the device useless for me, even though i love it. i had a similar experience with the interational version of the galaxy s. samsung has some issues (in my experience) that make their mobile hardware useless. my nexus one is solid as a rock. i am actually getting rid of my tab today. i am not the biggest fan of iOS, but for stability, it kills any samsung/android product. hoping the next gen android tabs are much more stable than this (LG G Tab, Streak 7, Xoom, etc).

  • Gato

    I own the Samsung Epic 4G from Sprint and let me tell you, this phone does everything the Samsung Tablet and the best part it fits in my pocket.

  • Lamanna99

    i have the htc evo. i was thinking about getting the tab. then LOTS of people are telling not to because the difference between my phone and the tab is the size. What should i doo?????? PLZZ HELP!!!