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

By Al Sacco, CIO
September 18, 2013 03:06 PM ET

Page 2 of 3

The Nexus 7 has a 1.5GHz quad-core processor, compared to the Tab 3 10.1's 1.6Ghz dual-core processor; the Tab 3 8.0's 1.5GHz dual-core processor; and the Tab 3 7.0's 1.2Ghz dual-core processor. The Nexus 7 also has 2GB of RAM, while both the Tab 3 7.0 and 10.1 have 1GB of RAM, and the Tab 3 8.0 has 1.5GB of RAM. The Nexus 7's powerful processor and additional RAM make it well suited for gaming.

As for built-in storage, the Nexus 7 is available in two configurations: 16GB and 32GB. The Tab 3 7.0 Wi-Fi comes with 8GB of storage; the Tab 3 7.0 LTE/Wi-Fi version has 16GB; and both the Tab 3 8.0 and 10.1 Wi-Fi models come with 16GB of storage. However all Galaxy Tab 3 devices also have microSD memory card slots that support cards up to 64GB.

Nexus vs. Galaxy Tab 3: Android Experience

Both Nexus tablets run the latest version of Google's Android mobile OS: Android 4.3 "Jelly Bean." Both devices will also be among the first to get the next version of Android 4.4 "KitKat."

Both the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 and Tab 3 10.1 devices run Android 4.2.2 Jelly Bean, while the Tab 3 7.0 runs a slightly older version, Android 4.2.1 Jelly Bean.

The Nexus tablets run newer, more polished versions of Android, but the Android software itself is quite different than the Samsung version that runs on its Tab 3 devices. Samsung's "flavor" of Android is dubbed "TouchWiz," and it's basically a customized version of Android with a number of Samsung-specific features.

For example, TouchWiz gives you unique home-screen customizations options; gesture and motion-based controls; themes and wallpapers, and settings that are specific to Samsung devices. It has a number of third-party Android apps preinstalled, too, including the SWYPE keyboard and Polaris Office suite.

Some of these unique features are valuable, some, well, aren't so valuable.

The "pure" version of Android that runs on Google's Nexus devices is basic and simple. In some ways, it doesn't have as many extraneous bells and whistles as TouchWiz. But it's also updated before the software on any other Android device, and updates don't go through any manufacturer before being released, so you always have the latest and greatest software tweaks as soon as they're available.

Also, if you already use a Nexus smartphone, you may appreciate the software similarities in the Nexus tablets, and vice versa; if you already use a Samsung Android phone, you may value the similar Tab 3 Android software.

It's hard to say which version of Android is better, and some users will feel differently about each software flavor. If you don't really care about getting software updates just as soon as they're available, and you like the idea of using gestures and motion-controls to navigate around your device, you might prefer TouchWiz. If possible, you should spend a bit of time with a Samsung TouchWiz tablet and a Nexus tablet, then move through the UI and check out the settings, before making a final decision.

Nexus vs. Galaxy Tab 3: My Take

I prefer Google's Nexus tablets to Samsung's Galaxy Tab family of devices. I appreciate the clean and simple interface that's a part of the pure Android experience, and I value the ability to get my hands on the newest version of Android just as soon as possible.

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