The Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 tablet offers a smaller screen along with Android Ice Cream Sandwich and a 1GHz dual-core processor
While the iPad has gone through three iterations since the revolutionary device landed in 2010, Samsung decided to challenge the Apple tablet by offering more tablets in so many different sizes, we are beginning to lose track. The original Samsung Galaxy Tab came in at a smaller 7-inches, and three years on from its IFA unveiling, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 is the upgraded model with some key hardware updates and Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich on board.
With a more budget-friendly price tag, we've spent some time with the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 find out whether its one of the best Android tablets on the market, and more importantly a device that can take on the iPad.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Build
If you had the original Galaxy Tab, you'll notice that is much the same for the Tab 2 in terms of design, sporting the same plastic grey rear casing that doesn't immediately feel as slick as the Galaxy 10.1 and 8.9. Once again you'll find the standby button in place on the right hand edge of the device with volume controls just below. There's an SD card slot (that can expand storage up to 32GB) which secured by a rather flimsy looking latch, while the connector port for charging sits at the bottom of the tablet flanked by the two speakers. You'll also find the 3.5mm headphone jack is positioned at the top of the device. Compared to the original Tab it's slightly slimmer at 10.5mm (11.4mm) and lighter at 345g (380g), but it feels heavier than the 8.9 and the 10.1 Galaxy Tab devices.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Screen
Despite boasting the same 1024x600 WSGVA resolution display as original Tab, the Tab 2 doesn't pack the same PPI as the Galaxy Tab 8.9 which means it struggles to match the vibrancy to make it great for watching movies, videos and browsing the web. The capacitive screen supports multitouch and while we found some slight lag in response when navigating it generally performed well. In terms of reading newspapers and ebooks, the screen can feel a little cramped at times, while we found viewing angles in the sunlight were not great when watching back streamed video content.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
The original Galaxy Tab ran on Android 2.2, but with no support for Android 3.0 for 7-inch devices, Android 4.0 is definitely a welcome addition. You can expect the five homescreens layout, with the ability to swipe away recent apps and drag widgets onto each homescreen including one which quite nicely displays the last song or video you've watched.
Like the Samsung Galaxy S3, Samsung's TouchWiz UI is overlaid which means some functions like taking a screenshot have its own dedicated button, while the mini-apps launcher means quick access to task manager, music player, S Planner, Email, Calculator and the Alarm. Rather annoyingly, when in games and apps, the tool bar at the bottom of the screen remains present which does feel like it obstructs the space on the screen, particularly for gaming.
Other Samsung additions include the All Share feature that allows users to stream content between Samsung TV and other Samsung mobile devices with an All Share icon placed in the Gallery section to quickly beam pictures to your TV or smartphone. ChatOn which is essentially Samsung's instant messaging service let's you group chat and send multimedia and works across iOS and BlackBerry devices. S Suggest is Samsung's app recommendation service that requires another sign in, but in all honesty it's no different to what you can hunt out on Google Play after a few minutes.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Performance
Along with Android 4.0, the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 has been ramped up in the power department going from a single core to a 1GHZ dualcore processor which puts it up there with the likes of the Motorola Xoom and the Samsung Galaxy 10.1 in terms of browsing and general zip around the device. In the gaming department we did notice that more graphically demanding games did suffer from some minor drop in frame rates, but the 7.0 definitely benefits from the extra power under the hood.
We put the virtual keyboard to the test and experienced mixed results. In portrait mode it is surprisingly accurate to type in an application like Polaris Office for instance, however we did annoyingly manage to hit the 'Caps' key instead of the 'A' key on many occasions. In landscape mode, there is clearly more surface area to type but it's quite uncomfortable stretching for keys when typing with two hands.
We have a real bugbear with tablet cameras, and there is nothing on the Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 to suggest otherwise. Toting a rather unimpressive 3-megapixel camera with the autofocus and LED flash dropped from the original Galaxy Tab expect grainy, noisy images which lack real vibrancy. The same can be said about the 720p video camera, so don't expect anything too stellar in this department. The front-facing camera is now a VGA resolution, and while you can't expect a crystal clear picture, it should take care of your video calling.
If you are planning to use this for music, we'd suggest otherwise as the audio performance was relatively underwhelming and when held in landscape mode is virtually impossible not to cover the speakers because of where they are positioned.
We tested out the battery which Samsung claims to be around 7 hours, and with general use of browsing, gaming and watching the odd film, we managed to get a couple of days out of it before the battery died. If you are planning to use It more intensively over a day, it should comfortably last you from the journey to work to the time you get back home.
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 Verdict
If we are judging this in terms of being the best tablet on the market, well, this is definitely not it. We'd say that it is not even the best Samsung tablet on the market with the Samsung 8.9 still T3's preferred choice. If you are after a 7-inch Android tablet for under £200 though, this is a decent all-rounder, that may lack some of the gloss from its more expensive Samsung Galaxy Tab compatriots, but has Android 4.0 out of the box, a decent battery life, and a strong, sturdy build to make it worth investing in.