The Yoga Tab 3's excellent kickstand goes a long way toward turning an otherwise basic tablet into a solid productivity machine. The kickstand props the device up to let you view documents and Web pages, and turns the tablet into a miniature monitor when paired with a Bluetooth keyboard. Add industry-leading battery life, a nice 8-inch display and an affordable $169 price, and you have a decent mobile work companion — even if sluggish performance and a hefty design hold it back.
Like Yoga tablets before it, the Tab 3 sports a thick battery-cylinder along one of its long edges. The end result is a significantly bulkier tablet than your average Android slate. The Tab 3 tips the scales at 1.03 lbs., which is noticeably heavier than the Amazon Fire HD 8 (0.68 lbs.) and Asus ZenPad S 8.0 (0.66 lbs.). That makes the Tab 3 less than ideal for commuters who don't want to add any heft to their workbags.
But that cylinder has a few tricks up its sleeve. In addition to seriously beefing up your battery life (more on that later), it also gives you something to hang onto, making the Tab 3 easier to grip when you're holding it up in portrait mode.
More importantly, the cylinder actually flips around to reveal a foldout kickstand, which single-handedly makes the Yoga Tab 3 a better productivity machine than rival tablets. The kickstand, which pops out with the press of a button, props the Tab 3 up on your desk, on an airplane tray table or anywhere else where you need to get a good look at the machine's 8-inch touch screen. And if you happen to have a Bluetooth keyboard, the kickstand will hold the tablet in place while you type.
I also like that the Tab 3 feels really sturdy, with a rigid construction and a nice textured back. The kickstand, meanwhile, is made from aluminum, which gives the device a premium feel.
Can you be productive on an 8-inch display? The Tab 3's compact, 1,280 x 800-pixel display is more than roomy enough for basic work tasks like managing your email in-box, but it can feel cramped for screen-intensive tasks like viewing large documents or editing spreadsheets. And if you happen to own a large smartphone — something like the 5.7-inch Galaxy Note 5 — then the Tab 3 might not offer enough extra real estate to make carrying around an additional device feel worthwhile.
Size aside, the Tab 3's display is quite striking, with vibrant colors and wide viewing angles. Text looks nice and sharp, too. Unfortunately, the Tab 3's screen is a bit on the dim side, topping out at 317 nits, which trails the 353-nit average. A brighter screen would be easier to view outdoors or in direct sunlight.
The Tab 3's versatile hardware might not be able to make up for the fact that the device isn't very fast. It's powered by a quad-core Snapdragon 212 processor with 1GB of RAM, which provides enough oomph for everyday tasks — think managing your email in-box and browsing the Web. But the processor slows down during multitasking. The Tab 3 frequently hung for a second or two while I switched between apps, which can get tiring.
Our tests backed up those impressions. The Tab 3 scored a meager 1,123 on the Geekbench 3 test, which measures overall performance. In comparison, the Asus ZenPad S 8.0 ($200) scored more than twice that (2,858), and even the superaffordable Amazon Fire HD 8 ($150) did better (1,518).
A decent front-facing camera is a perk if you want to use your tablet for meeting remotely with clients or colleagues using videoconferencing software such as Skype. Instead of having separate front and back cameras, the Tab 8 camera is positioned on the hinge so it can feely rotate from front to back. This means you don't have to settle for a low-quality front shooter like you would on other devices.
Although the camera still struggles to capture clear pictures in low light, it otherwise does a nice job of streaming high-quality images during a video call. Unfortunately, the camera's placement at the bottom edge of the tablet spoils things; the resulting low angle means that the person you're talking to will spend most of the call looking up your nose.
What the Tab 3 lacks in computing power, it makes up for in staying power. The tablet is quite literally the longest-lasting tablet we've ever tested. It ran for a jaw-dropping 15 hours and 9 minutes on our battery test, which simulates continuous Web browsing over Wi-Fi. That even blows away last year's Yoga Tab 2, which already ran for an impressive 10 hours.
Rival slates like the Asus ZenPad S 8.0 — which ran for just 6 hours and 47 minutes on the same battery test — can't begin to compete with the Yoga Tab 3's battery life.
The Tab 3 runs on a relatively clean installation of Android 5.1 Lollipop. If you're coming from an older version of Android, you'll find plenty of new productivity boosters here. That includes native wireless printing and the ability to easily set quiet times, so you're not interrupted by a buzzing tablet during meetings.
Asus didn't include much in the way of pre-loaded software, which is a good thing; other manufacturers tend to pack in tons of useless apps. Plenty of excellent work apps are available on the Google Play Store, though, including full-featured versions of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
Levovo's Yoga Tab 3 is solid tablet with a couple of great perks for business users, most notably a handy kickstand and superlong battery life.
The trouble is twofold. First, the Tab 3's underpowered processor tends to make multitasking feel a bit sluggish. And with smartphones getting bigger and laptops getting more portable all the time, I'm not sure there's still a place for a compact Android tablet in the average worker's bag. Still, frequent travelers who want a long-lasting mobile device for light productivity on the go will find plenty to like in the Yoga Tab 3.