Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 review: Almost budget shine

Samsung is pretty much the undisputed king of the somewhat patchy Android tablet scene right now, with a range of solid tablets available for all budgets.

At the other end of the funny Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra OTT scale is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8. It features a sleek design, one or two prominent bells and whistles, and a starting price of £219 / US$229.

It’s a tempting option if your bank balance doesn’t extend to any region like the iPad or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S8. Our review sample was provided by Box.

design and construction

The most impressive thing about the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is how well it is built. If you had handed this tablet to me in a power off state, without any accompanying information, I would have assumed it was a mid-range tablet that sold for at least double the price.

This is a full-size tablet with a slim, flat 6.9mm body with relatively small bezels around the screen. It’s nearly as high as an iPad in portrait view, but nowhere near as wide and weighs roughly 508 grams for the track for a 10-inch menu like this.

My mockup comes in a very professional looking graphite color (think dark metallic gray), but it also comes in silver and rose gold.

It’s not just the way the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 looks impressive. It feels reassuring in the hand, with a body primarily made of metal.

There is a plastic strip along the edge that houses the power and volume keys, as well as likely enabling network connectivity (both Wi-Fi and LTE models are available).

Speaking of buttons, the fingerprint reader is one of the biggest omissions here. You will have to rely on a heavy passcode entry system or an insecure and unstable facial recognition system if you want to lock your tablet. Nothing particularly great.

Screen and speakers

  • 10.5 inch LCD
  • High accuracy
  • Quad speakers with Dolby Atmos

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is packaged in a 10.5-inch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 – Full HD or 1080p definition.

It’s sharp enough for a budget tablet of this size, but when using a TFT LCD panel, it’s not particularly vibrant or colour-accurate. IPS LCD panels produce better colors and viewing angles.

Galaxy Tab A8 screen

The full coverage of 82% sRGB, 60% Adobe RGB and 63% DCI P3 certainly isn’t really great and the Delta E average of 4.39 is the best. Just to make that last point clear, the closer to 1 the better, and even a near-decent screen will get you down to about 2.

Peak brightness of 327 nits is fine but nothing special. You certainly won’t enjoy using the tablet outdoors even in relatively bright light conditions.

Elsewhere, the 60Hz base refresh rate means it’s not fluid either. But then Apple still stuck to 60Hz for all non-professional iPads, which until now was not expected in such a cheap tablet.

It’s that image output quality that’s the real weak point here, especially considering that Samsung really positions this tablet as an affordable media player. In fact, it has even gone so far as to equip the Tab A8 with a quad-speaker setup and Dolby Atmos support.

Galaxy Tab A8 Speakers

The sound is sure to be loud and clear, whether you’re watching a movie on the pre-installed Netflix app or TV content and podcasts on the similarly pre-installed Samsung Free app.

It’s a shame that Netflix content doesn’t look very good, in flat colors and doesn’t support HDR.

Specifications and performance

  • Unisoc Tiger T618 processor
  • 3/4 GB RAM
  • Storage capacity up to 128 GB

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 runs on a Unisoc Tiger T618 processor, along with 3GB or 4GB of RAM. This isn’t the most popular chip on the market, and you might expect Samsung to use one of their Exynos chips, but it works reasonably well for a budget tablet.

Benchmarking the multi-core Geekbench 5’s score of 1250 is a little higher than the Nokia T20 and close enough with the Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. In terms of GPU, it consistently scores one or two frames higher than the Nokia T20, as well as the older Galaxy Tab S6 Lite and Galaxy Tab S5e.

Check out the results below for the competition as well as the more expensive Xiaomi Pad 5 to highlight the extra performance available if you’ve spent more.

That’s not to say things are too smooth in general navigation, with occasional pauses or stutters when navigating between apps and even home screens and menus. It’s far from unusable but I had absolutely no doubts I was using a cheap tablet so sometimes some patience is required.

When it comes to more intense missions like games, it’ll run Slay the Spire just fine, except for a long layover just before your character dies. In fact, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is a better way to play such 2D fare (plus the likes of the Kingdom Rush) than any £1,000 flagship phone.

However, don’t expect the tablet to perform well with 3D games. I wasn’t able to run the usual Genshin Impact stress test, as there wasn’t enough storage space left from the initial 32GB once Samsung and Google took their large system chip.

There is a strong case to go the 64GB route, although there is potential for expansion up to 1TB from microSD. In the US, you can also buy the 128GB Tab A8 if you think you need it.

Galaxy Tab A8 specifications

I was able to play the well-optimized League of Legends Wild Rift, which works adequately at low settings. Meanwhile, the old PUBG Mobile game is loaded with HD graphics (the third lowest out of six) and a high frame rate, which isn’t bad. The in-game performance wasn’t too great, especially with those fuzzy textures that were blown up to 10.5 inches, but it was playable.

cameras

  • 8-megapixel rear camera
  • 5 mega pixel selfie camera

The camera doesn’t tend to be the focus of any tablet, and it shouldn’t ever be. This goes doubly for cheap tablets. So, I won’t waste much time talking about the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8’s camera offerings, except to say that they are not good at all.

Galaxy Tab A8 camera

Here you’ll only get one 8-megapixel rear camera, no flash, and no ultra-wide or telephoto backups of course. This solitary sensor takes shots that are full of noise, lack depth and dynamic range, and are often distressingly overexposed.

The 5MP selfie camera proved borderline unusable on the morning of the test shots, and seemed completely incapable of handling the moderate light conditions of the day. You can see the terrible results for yourself in the gallery. However, it will perform its intended function as a Zoom camera quite adequately.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 camera test

Nine times out of ten, if you want to take pictures with any tablet, I suggest you reevaluate your life choices. But if you insist on pointing and taking pictures with your 10-inch device, know that even a very cheap smartphone will do better than the Galaxy Tab A8.

Battery life and charging

  • 7040 mAh
  • 15 watt charging
  • 7.8W charger supplied

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 has a good sized 7,040mAh battery, which will last for days of light use.

Crank things up with a lot of intense missions and that number will drop dramatically. In the benchmark PCMark World 3.0 battery life test, the Galaxy Tab A8 scored 8 hours and 49 minutes.

Galaxy Tab A8 battery life

That’s much better than its latest budget rival the Nokia T20 (6 hours 39 minutes), but it beats its bigger brother, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite, at 8 hours 35 minutes.

While it does support 15W charging, Samsung only bundled the budget tablet with a 7.8W charger in the box. That’s more than you’d do with even its most expensive smartphone, but given the size of that battery, it takes an absolute life to get it to perfection.

In my test, 30 minutes later I got it from 0 to 10%, while after 3 hours and 15 minutes I got it to 80%. Fast charging isn’t as big of a deal with a tablet as it is with a smartphone, of course, but that’s still pretty slow when the Lenovo Yoga Tab 11 hits 43% in 30 minutes.

Programming

Samsung’s latest budget tablet runs on the now outdated Android 11 operating system, with Samsung’s own One UI user interface that handles household tasks.

Samsung’s software seems to be a real love or hate for it. It’s not my cup of tea, thanks to its overly picky nature, somewhat lackluster menus, sluggish animations, and an abundance of home and third-party apps. But I am well aware that a lot of people view it as intrinsic to Android, even more so than Android.

Whatever your point of view, it is undeniable that One UI is well optimized for tablets. Using two apps simultaneously in split screen works especially well, despite the hardware limitations behind it all.

Galaxy Tab A8 software

The new screen recorder function, accessed through the shortcut’s drop-down settings menu, allows you to record whatever is on your screen, along with annotating if you wish. This has potential benefits for the Galaxy Tab A8 as a teaching and learning tool.

There is no S Pen compatibility here, unlike the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 Lite. I understand budgets were tight, but it seems like a missed opportunity given the potential audience for the Galaxy Tab A8.

Price and availability

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 landed in the US and here in the UK on January 4, 2022.

Pricing starts at £219 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model. You can add LTE to that for £259, or double your storage and increase RAM to 4GB for £249. The top model gets you 64GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, and LTE for £289.

You can buy it just about anywhere including Samsung, Box, Amazon, John Lewis, Argos, Very, AO, Currys, Ebuyer, and Laptops Direct.

As mentioned earlier, the US also has a 128GB model if you want that much storage. Here are the pricing details (RRPs) for all models via the Samsung Store:

  • 32GB Wi-Fi – £219 / $229.99
  • 64GB Wi-Fi – $249 USD $279.99
  • 128GB WiFi – $329.99
  • 32GB LTE – £259
  • 64GB LTE – £289

In the US, you can buy it from Samsung as well as Amazon, BestBuy, and even Dell.

In terms of the alternative, the Nokia T20 will offer you a full-size Android experience for less than £180, with cleaner software and a superior IPS screen to boot. However, its performance is not good at all.

See more options in our charts for the best budget tablet, best Android tablet and best tablet overall.

to rule

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 is another solid budget effort from the king of Android tablets. Its premium design and loud, clear sound are extraordinarily accomplished at a very affordable price – if 32GB of storage is enough for you.

However, the tablet’s TFT screen is disappointingly flat and washed out, compromising its potential as an affordable media player. The lack of reliable biometric authentication is another fading but not necessary, and the Tab A8 has a surprisingly excellent sound system.

The performance, while far from amazing, is well suited for a tablet at this price, and the battery life is pretty good. It will take a long time to recover up to 100% of the vacuum with the included charger, but this is not an urgent problem in the world of tablets.

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8: Specifications

  • Android 11
  • 10.5 inch, FHD, TFT, 60Hz, flat screen

  • No fingerprint sensor

  • Unisoc Tiger T618

  • 3 GB / 4 GB RAM LPDDR4

  • 32 GB / 64 GB Storage

  • 8 MP main camera

  • Rear video up to 8K @ 30fps

  • 5 MP front camera

  • Dolby Atmos quad speakers

  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac

  • Bluetooth 5.0

  • 7040 mAh battery

  • Support 15W charging, 7.8W in the box

  • 246.8 x 161.9 x 6.9 mm

  • 508 g

  • Launch colors: graphite, silver, rose gold

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