Samsung Launches 7-Inch Budget Tablet

Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 joins the compact tablet market with entry-level specs.
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Samsung on Monday announced the third generation of its seven-inch tablet, called the Galaxy Tab 3. The Tab 3 follows its two predecessors in that it offers a budget experience for a budget price in a compact and portable form factor.

The Galaxy Tab 3 measures 7.4 by 4.37 inches and is 0.39 inches thick. It is lightweight at just 0.66 pounds. (It's worth pointing out that the Tab 3 is just slightly bigger than the Samsung Galaxy Mega smartphone, which has a 6.3-inch display.) This small tablet houses a 7-inch display that includes 1024 x 600 pixels, which puts it well below the HD threshold.

It is powered by a dual-core 1.2-GHz processor with 1 GB of RAM, and it runs Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. Samsung didn't specify whether the processor is made in-house or by a third party such as Qualcomm. In addition to Jelly Bean, the Tab 3 includes Samsung's TouchWiz user interface overlay and the accompanying Samsung services, such as Samsung Hub, ChatOn and Samsung Apps. The device will come with two internal storage options, either 8 GB or 16 GB. The Tab 3 supports microSD cards up to 64 GB for additional storage.

[ Samsung wants to cover the entire the mobile market. Read Samsung Galaxy S4 Oozes Innovation. ]

As far as connectivity goes, the Tab 3 includes dual-band Wi-Fi, HSPA+ 3G and EDGE 2G wireless radios. It supports most bands for use on cell networks worldwide. A Wi-Fi-only version is available, as well. It includes GPS and GLONASS to aid location-based services, and packs a bevy of sensors, including accelerometer, compass, light and proximity.

Samsung made modest improvements to the cameras. The main camera can capture 3-megapixel images, while the user-facing camera can capture 1.3-megapixel images. Samsung didn't say what resolution video the Tab 3 can capture.

Last, the tablet is powered by a 4,000mAh Lithium-Ion battery, though Samsung didn't say what sort of battery life that power cell provides.

On its surface, the Tab 3 might look like an iPad Mini competitor, but it isn't. The specs are not nearly close enough to make a fair comparison. Samsung's Note 8 tablet is a much better iPad Mini competitor. So if not the iPad Mini, what is Samsung targeting with the Tab 3? Other entry-level tablets. For example, the Google Nexus 7, which has had a very strong run in its first year. There's also the new HP Slate 7 Android tablet, which recently went on sale. Samsung hasn't suggested pricing for the Tab 3 yet, but it will likely be close to the $199 and $179 price points, respectively, of the Nexus 7 and Slate 7.

The Wi-Fi version of the Galaxy Tab 3 goes on sale in May, with the 3G version following in June. Exact timing of the launch will vary market to market.