Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0, Tab 3 10.1, Galaxy S4 mini, and Galaxy S4 Active

BY Stefan Constantinescu

Published 10 Jun 2013

Samsung invited a bunch of Finnish journalists out to lunch at the famous restaurant Grotesk in downtown Helsinki. There I had a chance to play with the new 8 inch and 10.1 inch Galaxy Tabs, the GS4 Mini, and the GS4 Active. Right off the bat, I’ll admit that I spent only a handful of minutes with the company’s 10.1 inch tablet. Android, at that size, seems pointless to me. Plus, I simply didn’t enjoy holding the device. It felt like Samsung made the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 to make Intel happy, not actual living breathing people.

The Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 on the other hand, I fell head over heels in love with it. It’s the perfect size, the screen is surprisingly crisp, and there aren’t enough words in the English language to describe the solid build quality. Yes, it’s all plastic, but it just feels like it’s built to take a beating. The display is coated with Gorilla Glass 3, which I don’t have too much experience with. It feels far better to the touch than Gorilla Glass 2. My finger was just sliding across that screen with little to no friction.

As for the phones, the Active’s 5 inch 1080p LCD immediately caught my eye. It’s beautiful, I’m not denying that, but I’m so used to AMOLED at this point that LCDs just look weird. If I ever bought an Active, I’m sure I’d get used to the different screen technology in no time, but I’m not so sure I’d get used to the silly microUSB flat on the bottom. I fully understand it helps make the device waterproof, but as someone who charges my phone at least twice a day, I can totally see myself ripping that flap off out of sheer frustration.

And finally, the GS4 Mini. It’s amazing. Full stop. If that phone came out two years ago, I would have bought it. If it came out last year, I’m almost positive it would have outsold the GS3. The screen, despite being qHD, is very sharp. If you hold the phone a few inches away from your face, yes, you’ll see the pixels, but who in their right mind does that? My one and only complaint about the GS4M is the price. It’s going to retail for 500 EUR in Finland, which is absurd. If it was 100 EUR cheaper, I would call it perfect.

Other random tidbits? I played with a prototype Galaxy Mega 6.3, and while I admit it’s probably an awesome phone for someone in Taiwan or Thailand or another country in Asia, to me it seemed a bit ridiculous. This is coming from someone who has the 5.5 inch Note II. Seeing the Mega 6.3 has me a little worried that I’m not going to like the Note III when it comes out later this year. Rumors say it’ll have a 6 inch screen, but I’m hoping it’s more like 5.9 inches.

If there’s something you want to know, feel free to leave me a question below.