What's the Best Android Tablet? Google Nexus vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab 3

Google's Nexus tablets and Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 devices are some of the hottest Android tablets available today. CIO.com's Al Sacco breaks down each device and offers tips on how to pick the Android tablet that's right for you.

Wed, September 18, 2013

CIO — One of the best things about Google's Android OS is that it runs on a variety of different devices. So if you want an Android tablet, but a particular piece of hardware doesn't have a feature you want or need, you can keep looking until you find the device that's right for you. And there's certainly no shortage of Android tablet options.

 Google Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 Tablets
Google Nexus 7 and Nexus 10 Tablets

I'm a longtime Android user - smartphones and tablets - and I spent the past three weeks dividing my tablet time between Google's latest Nexus 7 tablet and Samsung's new Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 These, in my opinion, are two of the best Android tablets available today.

If you're in the market for an Android tablet and have your eye on both of these terrific tablets, how do you choose which one is for you? Here's a quick breakdown designed to help make your decision.

Before I get started, it's worth noting that both Nexus and Galaxy Tab 3 are families of devices, not just individual tablets. There are two Nexus tablets, each available with different storage configurations: The Nexus 7 and the Nexus 10. The Nexus 7 was recently updated, and the Nexus 10 is feeling a bit long in the tooth these days - though rumor suggests a new Nexus 10 is in the works.

There are also three different version of the Galaxy Tab 3: the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0; the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0; and the Galaxy Tab 3 10.1. All three were released semi-recently.

For the purposes of this post, I'll mostly compare the Nexus 7 (2013 edition) to the three Galaxy Tab 3 devices; it doesn't really make sense to compare three new Samsung tablets to the old-ish Nexus 10.

Nexus vs. Galaxy Tab 3: Wi-Fi Only or Cellular?

One of the first questions you should ask before purchasing any tablet: Do you need a cellular radio, or will Wi-Fi be enough?

Most users should be okay with Wi-Fi-only tablets. If you want a cellular radio in your device, you'll likely end up paying more up front, as well as a monthly service fee. Your options will be limited, too, since not all tablets are available in cellular versions. (I've never owned a tablet with a cellular radio. I use my smartphone as a Wi-Fi hotspot, and I've never wished I had a built-in radio instead.)

 Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 Family of Tablets
Samsung's Galaxy Tab 3 Family of Tablets

If you need a cellular radio and want a Nexus tablet, you'll need to go with the smaller 7-inch device; the Nexus 10 is not currently available with a cellular radio. The Nexus 7 LTE is designed to work on T-Mobile, so if you're on another carrier and you need that radio, the Nexus tablets might not be for you. (The LTE Nexus 7 comes unlocked, so you could use it on carriers other than T-Mobile, but the device may not support your carrier's LTE bands, and you may not get the fastest data speeds possible.)

The only Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 device with a cellular radio is the Tab 3 7.0, and it's exclusive to AT&T in the United States at this point. Unless you're an AT&T customer or are willing to become one, the Galaxy Tab family may not be for you if a cellular radio is a necessity.

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