Samsung’s New Android Tablet Could Be a Solid Alternative to the Cheap iPad

Samsung’s New Android Tablet Could Be a Solid Alternative to the Cheap iPad
Image: Samsung

Android tablets are, against all odds, still alive thanks to the success of Samsung’s Galaxy Tab products, and now the company is launching a new mid-range option. I haven’t seen then Galaxy Tab A8 in person yet, and some important details remain unanswered, but the specs and features suggest the new Tab A8 could be a low-cost option with few compromises.

Samsung hasn’t shared official pricing yet, but based on the Tab A7’s price of A$379 and the Galaxy Tab S7 FE’s A$879 price tag, I would venture to guess the Tab A8 will be around A$450. Pricing details should be announced soon, considering the Tab A8 will be available in the US in January 2022. The Tab A8 comes in something called Pink Gold, a softer hue of Rose Gold. Blush Gold, perhaps. The other options, grey and silver, are tame.

Image: SamsungImage: Samsung

The Tab A8 shares the same aesthetics as the Galaxy Tab S line, the more premium tablet series. Tablets aren’t exciting to describe, and the Tab A8 is no different. It’s a rectangular slab with a Samsung logo opposite a single 8-megapixel camera (up front is a 5MP camera). The Tab A8 separates itself in this category by boasting a metal chassis and relatively thin bezels. At 0 kg and 0.27 inches thick, the A8 is about the size of most other 10-inch tablets.

Perhaps my favourite new feature is facial recognition, which should let you unlock the tablet quickly without the hassle of remembering your password. Samsung’s face unlock doesn’t have the cleanest security record, but the company promises your tablet will be protected by Knox, a proprietary mobile security platform.

Image: SamsungImage: Samsung

Samsung has earned a reputation for equipping its products with some of the best displays, and while this mid-range A8 will forgo the latest panel tech, its 10.5-inch, 1920 x 1200 TNT screen with a 16:10 aspect ratio should deliver vibrant colours. If it doesn’t, the A8 will have a tough time proving its worth because, without a keyboard, stylus, or Samsung DeX, the tablet is clearly meant more for streaming videos than getting work done. And on that note, the Tab A8 has quad speakers with Dolby Atmos support, a setup that should result in powerful audio. Or you can use the included headphone jack because Samsung, rather refreshingly, won’t pressure you into buying its Galaxy Buds Pro.

What I’m eager to determine is whether the Tab A8’s appeal can extend beyond being an inexpensive tablet for consuming media. That answer will have to wait because Samsung stops short of revealing the heart behind the A8’s performance, vaguely stating it runs on an “Octa-Core, 2GHz” CPU. Rumours point to a Unisoc Tiger T618 chip; we’ve reached out to Samsung for confirmation.

Paired with this processor is either 3GB or 4GB of RAM and either 32GB, 64GB, or 128GB of storage. Those planning on using the Tab A8 to house full-res photos and videos can use the microSD card slot to expand storage to 1TB.

Image: SamsungImage: Samsung

Samsung doesn’t give any battery life estimates for the A8, only promising it to be “hours on end” (whatever that means). We’ll need to run our own tests to see if the 7,040 mAh battery can get us through a full day of browsing the web or binge-watching The Expanse. Whether it does or not, the Tab A8 charges via a USB-C port and supports fast charging.

Runtimes will vary based on your usage, of course, and using the optional 4G LTE connectivity won’t do you any favours, though it might be worth the convenience if you need mobility. It’s worth noting that the A8 does not support 5G and broadband is limited to Wi-Fi 5, not the newer Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) standard.

Photo: SamsungPhoto: Samsung

While the Tab A8 doesn’t come with DeX, Samsung’s pseudo-desktop interface, it does have Multi-Active Window for using two apps side-by-side. There is also a new Screen Recorder feature for recording yourself and the screen, and the ability to quickly copy and paste to and from a Galaxy smartphone. Samsung is also throwing in freebie: two months of ad-free YouTube Premium with your Tab 8 purchase.

Performance, endurance, and price are the wildcards. If the Galaxy Tab A8 can go three-for-three on those, it could earn a spot as the best tablet for watching movies, gaming, or doing basic online tasks. Everything else about the device, from the modern design to the expandable storage and quad speakers, gives us a good feeling about the Tab A8.