Performance: Upgrading from a Galaxy Tab 8.9

It’s important to remember that users actually upgrade devices and aren’t in a constant state of comparing only the absolute latest to the absolute latest. Stepping into the real world for a moment, I dusted off the first sub-10” tablet that ever excited me: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 8.9.

Built around NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 and driving an 8.9-inch 1280 x 800 display, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 was in many ways a not too distant relative of the Note 8.0. Many of the UI customizations we see today on the Note 8.0 can be seen in a much earlier form on the Galaxy Tab 8.9. The app drawer existed back then (although it was seriously slow to appear/animate) and the tablet eventually got the ability to display multiple apps at the same time:

Multitasking on the old Galaxy Tab 8.9

There was even an early note taking app although the old Galaxy Tab 8.9 lacked a stylus.

From a performance standpoint, it’s sort of insane to think of how far we’ve come in such a short period of time. Remember, the Galaxy Tab 8.9 came out less than 2 years ago. Back then, shipping 40nm LP hardware from TSMC was common place - we've gone through a full process node transition since. Building SoCs at 28/32nm not only gave manufacturers the ability to integrate more features (more cores, bigger GPUs), but at higher frequencies as well.

CPU Performance

The Galaxy Note 8.0 features Samsung's own Exynos 4 Quad (4412) SoC. The SoC features four ARM Cortex A9 cores running at up to 1.6GHz (1.4GHz max in the Note 10.1) fed by a 1MB L2 cache and a dual-channel LPDDR2/3 memory controller. ARM's Cortex A9 isn't exactly top shelf these days, but compared to what's in the iPad mini (2 x A9s running at 1GHz) the Note 8.0 has a substantial frequency advantage. The same is true if we look at the Note 8.0 compared to the old Galaxy Tab 8.9. The advantage there is even greater as Tegra 2 lacked NEON support and only had a single channel memory interface.

SunSpider 0.9.1 Benchmark

The Note 8.0 a bit faster than the Note 10.1 thanks to its higher max CPU frequency (1.6GHz vs. 1.4GHz). The comparison to the Galaxy Tab 8.9 is like night and day, the Note 8.0 is considerably quicker. The iPad mini comparison is also skewed significantly in favor of the Note 8.0. Using Apple's A5r2, the iPad mini still has a standard Cortex A9 based SoC with a much lower operating frequency than what's used in the Note. This chart alone is good reason for why Apple needs to move the mini to an A6 based design sooner rather than later.

Mozilla Kraken Benchmark (Stock Browser)

The Note 8.0's CPU performance remains very competitive here despite being based on a fairly old CPU architecture at this point. The 8 is much faster than the iPad mini, tangibly quicker than the Nexus 7 (dual-channel memory interface, higher max CPU clocks) and in this case even faster than the iPad 4 thanks to the performance of Chrome on Android.

Google Octane v1

Our final CPU/js test echoes what we've seen elsewhere. Samsung knows how to build performance competitive hardware. The improvement over the old Galaxy Tab 8.9 remains significant.

Battery Life and Charging GPU Performance


View All Comments

  • Sleepingforest - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    I'm really excited about the multi-window support! I find myself switching between two apps (internet and note-taking) far too often on my phone--it's really annoying, even with multitasking tweaks and whatnot. Reply
  • gnx - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    If you're into rooting and installing custom ROMs, AOKP with "last app" in the navigation bar is excellent for that kind of multitasking.

    But as an 8.9 user, I really wish Samsung or someone would build a under 1lbs, 1080p HD, 8.9 tablet. The form factor of 8.9 makes it like a slim ipad4, while the under 1lbs makes it possible to hold with one hand, and of course, 1080p HD in 8.9 would not only look great, it'd make note taking (with an S pen or any other stylus) much more accurate.

    Long ago, supposedly LG's consumer research showed the people felt the 8.9 as the ideal size. LG came out with the first one, and Sammy followed suit with a svelt Galaxy Tab 8.9. That was two years ago. Now, Amazon's 8.9 Kindle erred on being a tad too heavy (1.3 lbs), while this Galaxy Note errs on being too cramped. If Sammy would quite chasing Apple (and making a 8.0), and just go its own way with an upgraded 8.9.
  • Sleepingforest - Sunday, April 21, 2013 - link

    Thanks for the advice, but I'm actually an iPhone user (jailbroken!) It's starting to feel a bit slow though, and I don't know if I'm going to stick with Apple. I am pretty heavily invested in the app ecosystem here, but I'm sure an Android promotion will come up at some point with a Google Play giftcard as incentive.

    I'll keep your advice in mind though, as I'm looking pretty closely at the HTC One!
  • enmass90 - Monday, April 22, 2013 - link

    If you're a jailbroken iPhone user, download a tweak called "accelerate". It will make iOS feel alot snappier, and you can choose how fast you want it! Reply
  • TaylorSandler - Thursday, April 18, 2013 - link

    Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online.(Click Home information)
  • Donniesito - Friday, April 19, 2013 - link

    Why don't we have the ability to report posts as spam? Can we please get rid of these absurd comments? Reply
  • nerdstalker - Sunday, April 21, 2013 - link

    I kinda like them; they are mostly funny. Especially when they are posted in bold.; easier to spot and read. Ha! :) Reply
  • DanielShaw - Wednesday, May 15, 2013 - link

    There is no doubt that Galaxy Note 8 is much more sophisticated and advanced than many other similar devices and Samsung products. It is very intuitive, quick and functional. It is perfect for using it on the go, when you need to take quick notes, write down some ideas, search for information, etc. Since I bought it few days ago, I am not stopping being impressed by this device.

    See my full feedback and review of Galaxy Note 8:
  • martie01 - Friday, May 17, 2013 - link

    I'd agree. Samsung note 8 is certainly a tremendous device, even despite the rather high price. Reply
  • Gadgetguy52 - Friday, June 21, 2013 - link

    I agree. Since I got the Note 8.0, I haven't been annoyed with not being able to open up an additional window. Reply

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