Samsung Galaxy Note 8 vs Nexus 7
Google's Nexus or Samsung's newly launched Galaxy Note 8 - which is the one for you?
The popular Nexus 7 introduced mobile consumers to a smaller form-factor tablet with a premium spec and an affordable price. It features a quad-core processor, a 216ppi IPS display and a stock build of Android 4.2 Jelly Bean.
The Galaxy Note 8.0 is a halfway point between Samsung's existing Galaxy Note 2 smartphone and larger Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet. It features the same S-Pen stylus input, Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with Samsung's UI and a quad-core processor.
Nexus 7: Key features and what’s hot
The Nexus 7, powered by Nvidia’s Tegra 3 quad-core processor, is still a competitively quick offering, particularly when running the well-optimised Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. The CPU is clocked at 1.2GHz and is backed up by 1GB of RAM along with a ULP GeForce graphics processor.
With Android 4.2 you’ve all the advantages of Google’s Butter UI, ensuring excellent navigation performance, screen transitions and menu animations that are all as smooth as the namesake implies. There’s also Google Now, an invaluable tool for feeding you up-to-date information on transport, weather and points-of-interest.
The form factor of the Nexus 7 is fairly standard for a 7-inch tablet, but the quality of the build is typical Asus with everything feeling really solid. The device has a textured rubber coating that ensures excellent grip. The bezel along the vertical edges of the screen is narrow, giving a sleek, phone-like appearance, and its aluminium surround lends a bit more to its solidity and looks good.
The display is a standout feature, it’s 7-inches of IPS LCD covered in Corning reinforced Gorilla Glass. This has a 1280x800 pixel resolution delivering a handsome 216 pixels-per-inch pixel density for a robustly sharp picture quality. Brightness, whites and colour depth are all strong points here, and the display is one which we’d happily watch films on for hours.
Samsung Galaxy Note 8: Key features and what’s hot
The Galaxy Note 8 is no less a competitive product with its quad-core Exynos 4412 chip clocked at 1.6GHz, Mali-400MP quad-core GPU and 2GB of RAM. While the Note 8 does run Android it’s version 4.1 Jelly Bean instead of 4.2, and rather than being stock it has Samsung’s TouchWiz UI overlay on top.
Fundamentally the core features and interaction are still there but it does have its own flavour – though you can add a launcher to bring it closer to Google’s vision if you wish. Part of the TouchWiz UI is the inclusion of Multiscreen functionality so that a select group of apps can share the screen in dual mode. There are also various stylus-orientated apps and functions to work with the S-Pen stylus.
The 8-inch display is an LCD rather than Samsung’s usual AMOLED and sports the same 1280x800 pixel resolution as its opponent, though on this larger scale it results in a lower pixel density of 189ppi. It’s still bright and reasonably punchy, however, and should be adequate for web browsing and watching video.
Points to consider: Practical use
The most glaring difference here is one of build quality. Admittedly, the Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 might have a more attractive shape, but the usual shiny plastic has made a return and it remains a poor choice of materials for end-user satisfaction. You really wonder where the premium price tag comes from when you handle a Samsung Galaxy product. The build quality is solid in terms of device longevity, we’ve no concerns it will crack and there’s no flex in the chassis, but the feel in the hand leaves us wanting.
Conversely, the Nexus 7 has a far more premium fit and finish, and at a lower cost to boot. The display clarity is also a factor and you get a better result from the Nexus 7’s higher pixel density. On performance and software these devices are more or less equal – both will give high speed performance and have access to a wealth of app content.
Deciding factors here, therefore, are whether you feel you absolutely need stock Android or are really after stylus input. With storage, both have the same amount but the Galaxy Note 8.0 does support microSD.
Each tablet is also available as Wi-Fi only or 3G-enabled, although the Note 8.0 is the only one with a phone interface and able to make calls and texts – if that’s something you’re after.
We don’t have a clear favourite here. We’ll admit we do really enjoy stylus support, particularly for certain tasks and in these cases the Note 8.0 quickly becomes the device of choice. But for more general tablet duties and, importantly, when it comes to the satisfaction of the stock Android interface as well as the fit, finish and display quality, the Nexus 7 wins hands down.