Samsung’s flagship 10-incher left us with really good first impressions thanks to its great design, build, and beefy specs. But can it deliver the same quality in terms of performance and usability? Find out the answer by reading our review of the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition after the jump.
Design and Construction
Like what we mentioned in our first impressions, the new Galaxy Note 10.1 came with a new design that is very much inspired by the Galaxy Note 3. If you have held or seen the Note 3 just imagine it being stretched into a 10-inch slate, remove the phone functionality, and you already have the Note 10.1.
As simple as the Note 10.1’s design came to be, it actually becomes an advantage as it makes the flagship tablet easier to identify. One look and you’ll immediately recognize that it belongs to a top-of-the-line Note family.
On the front of the device is the 10.1-inch display. Right above it are the 1.9 megapixel camera and the light sensor, while down below are the physical home button and two capacitive buttons (Options and Back). On the left side are the headset jack and left-hand speaker, while on the right are the slot for the stylus, right-hand speaker, and the microSD card slot.
On top are the power/lock button, volume rocker, and IrLED. Placed at the bottom are the microUSB slot and a pinhole for the microphone. Flip it on its back and you’ll see the 8 megapixel rear camera, LED flash, and the faux-leather rear.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is a very elegant and classy device. Although the chrome-finished sides feel plasticky, it feels durable and not something that would easily chip-off or fade.
On hand, the Note 10.1 is light and feels good to the touch. You can hold it with one hand like you would normally do on a smartphone or a smaller tablet – thumb on the bezel and the rest of your fingers on the rear. However, this kind of position will tire you after a while so we’d suggest placing your hand underneath and let it rest on your arm.
The new Note 10.1’s display is a big upgrade from its 1 year old predecessor. From a PLS TFT display with 1280×800 resolution or 149ppi, it now uses a Super Clear LCD with 2560×1600 resolution or 299ppi. Pixels can be seen but only if you look very closely.
As expected of a device with such display, colors are very rich with just the right amount of saturation, great viewing angles, icons and texts are crisp and sharp, and it has a maximum brightness of 430 nits which makes it very usable outdoors even on a sunny day.
OS, UI and Apps
Running the software department for the Note 10.1 is Android 4.3 Jellybean with TouchWiz UI. Those familiar with Android should find it easy to use as everything remains the same.
However, Samsung added a little extra on the UI such as the persistent side menu drawer for a quick access to frequently used apps and the inclusion of a shortcut to My Magazine (Flipboard) by swiping from the bottom.
Being an Android-powered device, you can expect Google’s goodies to come preinstalled. Samsung also smothered the Note 10.1 with a bunch of its own apps including those that take advantage of the tablet’s S Pen such as: S Note, Action Memo, Scrapbook, SketchBook for Galaxy, and S Planner.
If you think those aren’t enough, the Google Play Store, Samsung Apps and Samsung Hub are there to hook you up with content you prefer.
Speaking of the S-Pen, it’s probably the best stylus you’ll ever use on an Android device. Physically, it feels premium, sturdy and the tip glides very smoothly over the display. The same can be said when you’re writing with it. Response time is really good, accurate, and is fast and fluid as well.
As for its functions, clicking on the button while you hover the tip on top of the display brings the following options: Action Memo, Scrap Booker, Screen Write, S Finder, Pen Window. Effective tools which can help you multitask on the go.
This is one category that the Note 10.1 is heavily invested in. Having a large and gorgeous display just begs the user to play movies on it. Although the viewing experience may not be as pixel-packed as compared to a device with a smaller Full HD screen, the punch of colors, great viewing angles and sharpness makes up for it.
When it comes to audio, the Note 10.1 does not disappoint. The speakers placed on the left and right side of the device are capable of producing loud yet really rich sounds.
The Note 10.1 also gives you extra control over it by providing an equalizer and some toggles to improve the quality of sound.
The Note 10.1 comes equipped with an 8 megapixel camera with BSI sensor. Users can shoot from a minimum of 3.2 megapixel (4:3) resolution up to 8 megapixel (4:3). If you want to shoot in 16:9 you will have to switch down to 6 megapixel.
Although we’re not to keen in using a tablet as a main camera, the Note 10.1’s shooter is capable of producing very decent photos granted that a sufficient light source is available. Shoot in a dimly lit area and you’ll end up with an image peppered with noise. Take a look at the sample photos below:
However, if you’re really serious in using the Note 10.1 as a go-to camera, it comes with a slew of modes that most users will find very useful: Auto, Beauty Face, Best Photo, Best Face, Sound & Shot, Drama, Rich tone (HDR), Eraser, Panorama, Sports, and Night.
As for video recording capabilities, it can shoot 1080p videos at 30fps with video stabilization. Watch the sample video below:
Performance and Benchmarks
Being a device powered by an Exynos 5420 Octa CPU, Mali-T628 GPU, and 3GB of RAM, and Android 4.3 Jellybean, the Note 10.1 worked through our tasks quickly and smoothly. We didn’t experience crashes or reboots even when using multiple apps or multiple windows. A good sign that everything is stable across the board. If there are lags they’re hardly noticeable.
We did a series of benchmark tests on the device and here are the results:
* AnTuTu – 33,541
* Quadrant – 18,483
* Vellamo HTML 5 – 2,765
* Vellamo Metal – 1,307
We also tested the GPU using Epic Citadel and it scored an average of 26.9fps at full resolution in Ultra High Quality performance level.
We also played Eternity Warriors 2, Plants VS Zombies 2, and Dead Trigger in High settings with 5 to 6 apps running in the background and everything still ran smoothly.
Powering the Note 10.1 is an 8,220mAh Li-Ion battery. This is a 1,220mAh bump from its 7,000mAh predecessor. We used the tablet for heavy SNS browsing, moderate to heavy gaming, and a couple of movies and we’re still left with enough juice to make it last the next morning. The only downside we see here is that the battery takes a lot of time to recharge.
We did our usual movie playback test with a 1080p video played in loop with the device in Airplane mode, 50% brightness and 0% volume. The result is 8 hours of continuous movie playback.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a well-made, good-looking and beefed-up device that aims to be the Jack of all trades in the world of tablets. For those who want to use it as portable movie player the 10-inch Super Clear display, and the dual speakers won’t disappoint. If a user wants to take a picture, the 8 megapixel rear camera with LED flash will suffice. Gamers will find the Note 10.1’s CPU, RAM and overall performance to be top notch. And for those who want to be productive will find the S apps, S Pen, great multi-tasking capabilities, and long battery life to serve well.
At this point, the Note 10.1 sounds like the perfect tablet. Well, almost. If there’s one weakness we found on this device is its size. Don’t get me wrong, the 10-inch display is great especially for watching movies and when multitasking with Pen Windows, but I don’t see myself whipping it out in public to read an eBook when I’m riding a jeep or the LRT/MRT. Although slim and portable, it certainly won’t fit in a small clutch bag or a woman’s purse. To sum it up, the Note 10.1 is designed to be used at home, in the office, or in a private vehicle. Any place where you have the luxury of space.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition SM-P600 specs:
10.1-inch Super LCD display @ 2560×1600 pixels, 299ppi
Exynos 5420 1.9GHz Quad Processor + 1.3 GHz Quad Processor
16GB, 32GB, 64GB internal storage
up to 64GB via microSD card
GPS w/ aGPS support, GLONASS
8MP rear camera, BSI sensor
1080p @ 30fps
1.9MP front-facing camera
1080p video @ 30fps
8220mAh Li-Ion battery
Android 4.3 Jellybean
What we liked about it:
* Great build
* Clean design
* Impressive display
* Good and stable performance
* Good battery life
What we didn’t like about it:
* Size is too large for small bags
* Gets hefty if held with one hand