Coming into MWC 2013, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 was hardly a secret, as numerous leaks had already painted an accurate picture of Samsung’s response to the Apple iPad Mini. But although it’s no surprise that the Galaxy Note 8.0 was officially announced by Samsung, the fact remains that this S-Pen-enabled tablet is likely to play an important role in the evolution of the Android ecosystem for at least the first half of the year.
When covering new mid-sized Android tablets, or even any category of Android tablets for that matter, one interesting way of appreciating its future success is a comparison with the best selling Android tablet of all times, the Google Nexus 7.
The general rule of thumb throughout 2013 should be that only tablets that noticeably improve on the specs of the Nexus 7 have chances at selling well and thus making a dent in the ecosystem’s yearly timeline. However, the rule becomes slightly distorted in the context of this article due to the fact that Samsung is not your average Android manufacturer. I’m quite confident that a tablet from the South Korean manufacturer might provide better results (more units sold, better profit margins) than a corresponding tablet from any other manufacturer.
With this in mind, let us start pitting the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 against the Asus-manufactured Google Nexus 7.
The Google Nexus 7 uses a 7-inch LED-backlit IPS display that runs at a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels. The Pixel Per Inch density (PPI) rests at 216, the colors are accurate, the viewing angles are good, and despite not excelling in the brightness department, it does feature great contrast ratios. Overall, we are talking about the modern standard in terms of acceptable displays.
As the name suggests, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 uses an 8-inch LCD display, one that uses the same resolution as the display on the Nexus 7: 1280 x 800 pixels. However, due to its larger display area, the PPI ratio falls at 189. The overall display quality is similar to that of the Galaxy Note 10.1, meaning there’s nothing to get really excited about.
Verdict: If display quality is what you’re looking for, the Nexus 7 is definitely the better choice.
Design and Build Quality
Although it it does not feature exceptional build quality, the Nexus 7 is quite a compact slate. Add the soft touch back and narrow(ish) side bezels, and the end product is comfortable to hold and use.
The Nexus 7 measures 198.5 x 120 x 10.5 mm (7.81 x 4.72 x 0.41 in) and weighs in at 340g (11.99oz).
There’s no easy way to say it, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 is certainly not the prettiest tablet to look at. Although it’s quite thin, the Note 8.0 is basically an oversized Note 2 with huge bezels and a very plasticky build.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 measures 210.8 x 135.9 x 8 mm (8.30 x 5.35 x 0.31 in) and weighs in at 338g (11.92oz).
Verdict: Looks may be subjective, but build quality isn’t, so the Nexus 7 takes this round as well!
CPU, GPU & RAM
The Google Nexus 7 uses an underclocked version of the popular Nvidia Tegra 3 chipset. This translates into a 1.2GHz quad-core processor, an Nvidia GeForce ULP GPU and 1GB of RAM memory.
In the Samsung corner, the Note 8.0 makes use of the same SoC as the Galaxy Note 2, namely an overclocked version of the Exynos 4 Quad. The 1.6GHz quad-core processor, Mali 400 MP GPU and 2GB of RAM make the Note 8.0 a very fast tablet.
Internal and Expandable Storage
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 will launch in 16GB and 32GB versions and will be able to work with microSD cards of up to 64GB.
Although an 8GB version was initially released, the Google Nexus 7 is now selling in 16GB and 32GB versions. In pure Nexus style, there is no microSD card slot.
Both the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the Google Nexus 7 come similarly equipped in the battery department, featuring a 4600mAh battery and a 4325mAh battery, respectively.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 uses a 5MP primary camera and a 1.2MP secondary sensor for video calling, while the Google Nexus 7 features a front facing 1.2MP camera only.
Verdict: The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 features considerably better hardware specifications than the Google Nexus 7.
Android Version and Software Tweaks
As far as this section of our article is concerned, these are two very different tablets. On one hand we have the Nexus 7 running on Android 4.2 Jelly Bean, a device that will be always up to date with the latest version of vanilla Android. In the other, we have the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, a tablet that currently runs Android 4.1 and might not have access to timely updates in the future, but tries to compensate with an array of software tweaks.
While Samsung’s TouchWiz custom Android UI is often criticized for its design, the Galaxy Note 8 not only comes with the Samsung Smart Functions and all the software features that people love about the Galaxy Note 2, but also throws in S-Pen compatibility in the equation. This is Samsung’s tradeoff for that sub-par display: a digitizer that can turn your tablet into a creative or lucrative powerhouse.
Verdict: This round seems to be a draw as the Nexus 7 runs on pure Android, but the Galaxy Note 8 can do some really neat tricks as well.
Although they are both mid-sized, mid range Android tablets, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 and the Google Nexus 7 could not be any different.
The Nexus 7 still remains the go-to solution if you’re interested in the overall quality level, but the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 might still find a way to your heart thanks to its speedy internals and S-Pen capabilities.
The fact that the Galaxy Note 8 can place calls via 3G is probably not going to be much of a factor, although the price (a vital element that Samsung has yet to reveal) will. If the rumors placing the Galaxy Note 8 at roughly $300 come true, than sure, the Galaxy Note 8 is a viable choice for many. On the other hand, Samsung’s chance to a good community reaction decreases as it passes this critical price threshold and start nearing the price of the Galaxy Note 8’s true competitor, the Apple iPad Mini.
What do you guys make out of this comparison? Would you go for the Nexus 7’s better display and timely Android updates over the Galaxy Note 8’s speedier hardware and S-Pen capabilities?