Within the past few years I had started a new role for an education company that provided a helpdesk for students, faculty, and staff across multiple disciplines and institutions for issues they were encountering with the hardware and software they were using for their online courses. Although most of the users who had contacted our helpdesk were primarily Windows, Mac, or iOS users, on occasion we would have someone contact us for assistance that was using an Android device.
After my initial experiences assisting clients with their issues with Android I quickly realized that I need to improve my knowledge of Android to better assist users. My first foray into this was by using the Android SDK and emulating an Android device, this quickly became a hinderance as the emulated device was incredibly slow and in many cases unusable. After this poor experience I realized that the best option would be to purchase an actual Android device, this led me to the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 (2022) an affordable tablet that offered a basic range of features and capabilities that would suffice for my requirements for a device that I can use to experience Android directly.
In this review, we will explore this tablet and discuss its build quality, performance, software experience, and limitations. While it may not be the most high-end tablet on the market, it offered excellent value for its price range.
Build Quality and Storage Expansion
The first aspect of the Galaxy Tab A8 that I noticed as soon as I removed it from its packaging was its sturdy physical build quality despite being a budget priced tablet. The device feels solid in hand, giving it a sense of durability despite the thickness of the device (6.9 mm).
Furthermore, this tablet includes an SD card slot to expand the tablet's storage beyond its initial 32 GB offering. The inclusion of the SD card is particularly useful as the extended storage is integrated within the Android file system and allows data to be stored on the SD card and applications to be installed. This experience is in contrast to Apple devices which allow for SD cards to be connected via an adapter, however unlike SD cards on Android the experience is not seamless integrated into the operating system and acts merely as another storage device onto which files can be stored.
Performance and Software Experience
The tablet ships with version 10.0 of Android and offers a smooth and customizable user experience with the ability to install the latest version of Android (13) onto the device. The ability to upgrade to Android 13 is refreshing as it is my understanding that unlike Android smartphones, Android tablets did not receive many substantial updates and generally received at most 1 system upgrade in the lifetime of the device.
Despite the ability to upgrade to the latest flavour of Android, there are moments when the device struggles with certain resource-intensive apps, particularly Microsoft apps like Outlook and Teams, making it difficult to multi-task. When running other applications for general tasks and everyday use, the Galaxy Tab A8 performs admirably, providing a seamless and responsive experience.
Software Updates and Customizability
As mentioned above, this tablet continues to receive timely software updates from Samsung and Google. Users can expect to receive the latest Android updates for the near future, ensuring their tablet remains secure and up to date. Additionally, the customizability of Android stands out compared to iOS, as it allows users to install apps from sources beyond the official sandboxed environment provided by apps installed via the iOS App Store, giving them more flexibility and choice.
Limitations and Alternative Operating Systems
Outside of some minor performance issues with some applications, there is not much to complain about the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 (2022) as it performs above its status as a budget device, the only thing that is a bit of a drawback is the inability to install alternative operating systems like the privacy focused GrapheneOS, Ubuntu Touch, or Plasma Mobile. This is an unfortunate consequence of these project’s primary focus being directed on Android phones (in particular Google Pixel models) and not tablets, although there are custom versions of other operating systems like LineageOS, full disclosure be careful of the source of the custom version.
In conclusion, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 (2022) offers an affordable option for those in search of a reliable and functional tablet. With its sturdy build quality, expandable storage, and smooth Android experience, it is well-suited for everyday tasks and multimedia consumption. While it may encounter occasional performance issues with certain apps, its price value makes it a compelling choice for budget-conscious consumers.