Samsung just held a small preview event in Helsinki, Finland, where we briefly had the chance to play with some of its latest devices. The Intel-powered Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 was there, along with the smaller Galaxy Tab 3 8.0. We also grabbed a few moments with the Galaxy S 4 mini as well as the Galaxy S 4 Active, both of which seemed kinda predictable but nevertheless managed to leave a good impression. There was no sign of the new Galaxy Ace 3 or the heavily rumored Galaxy S 4 Zoom, and we weren't able to grab video of any of the products, but we do have a gallery for you below and some very early impressions if you read on.
Samsung Galaxy S 4 mini, S 4 Active, Tab 3 8.0 and Tab 3 10.1 hands-onSee all photos
Galaxy Tab 3 10.1
The 10.1-inch Tab 3 certainly felt snappy during our time with the device, though the low screen resolution (1,280 x 800 pixels) reminded us of Apple's older second generation iPad. The screen was also quite reflective, making it difficult to read outside, despite the fact that we were on a covered terrace. The whole package felt a little clunky and the build quality reflected that. This is Samsung's first Intel-powered Android tablet, however, and the company did say to us that hardware wasn't final.
Galaxy Tab 3 8.0
The smaller 8-inch Galaxy Tab 3, on the other hand, captured our hearts. The press photos don't do it justice. In the hand it's incredibly solid, with no obvious corners cut on build quality compared to the Galaxy Note 8.0, and the 1,280 x 800 pixel screen is surprisingly crisp. Again, no lag was immediately apparent and websites rendering fairly quickly over the event's open WiFi connection. Reflections were minimal, no matter which angle the screen was tilted. One-handed use was also a breeze thanks to the wide aspect raio and small bezels.
Galaxy S 4 mini
Moving on to the phones, the GS 4 mini predictably looks like a GS4 that was zapped with a shrink ray. The build quality was excellent, and the 4.3-inch 960 x 540 screen was more than adequate to our eyes, though you could see the pixels if you held it just a few inches closer than normal. The TouchWiz on-screen keyboard was a tad difficult to use, but only because we're used to jumbo flagships.
Galaxy S 4 Active
The phone's 5-inch 1080p LCD seemed to have more accurate colors than the AMOLED panel in the GS4, but where the Active really stood out was outdoor readability. It remained perfectly clear, even in direct sunlight. The extra weight (21 grams) compared to the GS4 also makes the phone feel more hefty, though we'd still call it a light phone. On top there's a waterproof (up to a depth of one meter) headphone jack, while on the bottom there's a flap protecting the micro-USB port. We clicked the device's bottom row of physical buttons with confidence too, though they are somewhat slippery.
Stay tuned, because we're hoping to get a fuller hands-on time with each device soon -- perhaps at Samsung's June 20th event in London.