Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Reviewby Brian Klug & Anand Lal Shimpi on October 1, 2013 9:00 AM EST
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- Galaxy Note 10.1
Ever since the arrival of the Nexus 10, it’s been hard recommending other, lower resolution 10-inch Android tablets. Although not the knock out success that the Nexus 7 became, the Nexus 10 did offer a good alternative to the iPad at a lower price. Given that Samsung made the aforementioned 10-inch Nexus, complete with 2560 x 1600 display, we wondered when a similar panel might grace Samsung’s own tablet lineup. A few weeks ago we got the answer we’ve been waiting almost a year for.
The latest iteration of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 10.1, aptly named the 2014 Edition, ships with the firm’s own 10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 display. It’s not display alone that Samsung hopes to sell its latest Note 10.1 on, the rest of the package is similarly specced to the max.
Unlike the Galaxy Note 3 where the majority of devices sold will likely use Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 800, the new Note 10.1 uses Samsung’s own Exynos 5420 SoC for all WiFi models. It’s only the LTE versions that will leverage Qualcomm silicon, but WiFi tablets still sell extremely well. All of this makes the 2014 Edition the first Samsung Android device to ship with its own Cortex A15 silicon in the US since the Nexus 10.
Add 3GB of RAM, tick the 802.11ac box and all you’re missing is USB 3.0 from the Galaxy Note 3. The result is Samsung’s first truly high end 10.1-inch Android tablet since the Nexus 10, and as its name implies, it comes with an S Pen. The entire bundle comes at a $150 premium to the much lower specced Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 and to the Galaxy Note 8.0:
|Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition)||Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1||Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0|
|Dimensions||243.1 x 171.4 x 7.9mm||210.8 x 135.6 x 7.95mm||210.8 x 135.6 x 7.95mm|
|Display||10.1-inch 2560 x 1600 Super Clear LCD||10.1-inch 1280 x 800 LCD||8.0-inch 1280 x 800 LCD|
|Weight||535g (WiFi)||510g (WiFi)||338g (WiFi)|
|Processor||1.8GHz Samsung Exynos 5420 (4 x Cortex A15/4 x Cortex A7, Mali-T628MP6)||
1.6GHz Intel Atom Z2560 (2 x Atom , PowerVR SGX544MP2)
1.6GHz Samsung Exynos 4412 (4 x Cortex A9, Mali 400MP4)
|Connectivity||WiFi , Optional 3G/4G LTE||WiFi , Optional 3G/4G LTE||WiFi , Optional 3G/4G LTE|
|Storage||16GB—64GB + microSD||16GB/32GB + microSD||16GB/32GB + microSD|
Balancing a desire to make tons of sweet cash with criticisms about material quality, Samsung revamped its 2014 Note family with a new design. Rather than the smooth glossy plastic back we’ve seen with the previous generation of Notes, the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition inherits the same back cover finished in faux leather from the Galaxy Note 3.
I’ve already gone into detail on the improvement this is over the previous slick plastic in our Galaxy Note 3 review, but in short it’s a good step forward. There’s a difference in finish between the white and black versions (the latter has more of a grip laden rubbery texture), but both are better than the previous generation. We’re still talking about injection molded plastic and not real leather, but it’s a big step forward and honestly feels quite good in hand. The fake stitching is a bit much for me personally, though those looking for a more organic feel might appreciate it.
The new Note 10.1 maintains roughly the same dimensions as the new Galaxy Tab 3 10.1, although with far better internals and display.
The usual design staples are all here. There’s a microSD card slot on the right hand side as well as stowage for the new S Pen. Up top you’ll find the power/lock switch and volume rocker. There’s a physical home button front and center, flanked by capacitive menu and back buttons. The design is distinctly Samsung.
Software & OS
The 2014 Edition of the Galaxy Note ships with Android 4.3, as well as the typical set of S Pen, multi-window and other productivity enhancements you’d expect from a Samsung Note device. I’ve already gone through these in our Galaxy Note 3 review as well as in our Galaxy Note 8.0 review, so I’ll point you there for more details. In short, the S Pen is an interesting productivity addition to a tablet. It does a reasonable job of approximating a pen and paper experience, although understandably with more lag than you're used to (along with some other quirks).
CPU & Performance
The 5420 is Samsung’s second Exynos 5 Octa SoC, pairing a quad-core Cortex A15 cluster with a quad-core Cortex A7 cluster. The Note 10.1’s implementation still only supports cluster migration, with either the Cortex A15 or Cortex A7 cluster being active at once, effectively making the chip a quad-core SoC in the eyes of the user and OS. The point of having both A15 and A7 clusters on board is to be able to switch between the two depending on workload demands. If you need performance, a quad-core Cortex A15 is at your disposal, running at up to 1.8GHz (up from 1.6GHz in the previous Exynos 5410). If you need battery life however, the Cortex A7 cluster takes over running at up to 1.3GHz in the 5420 (up from 1.2GHz). Switching between the two is seamless as far as the OS is concerned, and for the first time the two clusters have a functioning cache coherent interconnect between the two (although it's not leveraged in the Note 10.1's implementation). Ideally Samsung’s implementation would go one step further and feature a cache shared between both clusters (rather than a 2MB L2 for the A15 cluster and 512KB L2 for the A7 cluster), but we’re still in the early days of big.LITTLE.
The 5420 performs understandably quite well. In lightly threaded tests the Note 10.1 pulls ahead of the old Nexus 10, but in those that exploit the tablet’s four A15 cores we see a significant jump forward. Samsung was able to deliver a relatively good experience with four Cortex A9 cores in their Galaxy Note 8, the new Note 10.1’s underlying hardware just does an even better job.
The four A15s are generally quicker then Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800/Krait 400s, but typically fall short of Intel's Atom Z3770 under Android as well as Apple's Cyclone cores in the A7.
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Davidjan - Monday, October 7, 2013 - linkReally love it. I would use it to see movies with Meenova MicroSD Reader: http://goo.gl/U6IyY
Pessimism - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - linkNo phone call ability no care.
ASEdouardD - Thursday, October 10, 2013 - linkI usually prefer Anandtech's reviews over other websites because of their great analysis of raw performance, but here I find it lacking. Every other review I've read of this tablet mentioned (and made a pretty big point of it) that it stutters a lot and generally feels choppy even though the specs says it should run great. At some point the bigger picture is more important than performance results. There's a also a pretty big lack of discussion on the software side of things, which is something Samsung has a habit of screwing up (see lackluster performance despite insane specs).
SentinelBorg - Monday, November 4, 2013 - linkMaybe Anand had a newer version of the software? According to posters at XDA, Samsung already improved the performance a lot with the last updates. A new one was released these days btw, that also enabled multi-user-mode.
tushar001 - Thursday, November 28, 2013 - linkI consider myself as Layman turn Techie, I am being a Biology grad its tough to be techie but I try to simplify terms. I am considering to buy best tab which can lead gadget & OS update race for next 2 years. So I'm studying all web updates of 10.1 2014 & ipadair since few month. I have all outdated gadgets like N72(brought in 2006) & Dell inspiron 15R i5 1st gen,Win7(brought in 2011). As I have decided to update my gadgets with best phone & tab in market so I got into all this stuff. Here in India we don't have Apple craze, but I do agree Apple provide best built quality in their products but hamper lot in iOS with iTunes monopoly & other hand is cheap but practical Samsung's flexible range. As price don't affect me I want the best in phone & in tab. So my detail study hints me toward Samsung but concern for its longevity in market survival. Current issues with Samsung is worth concerning. This recent delisting incident puts me in doubt, but on considering other benchmark Samsung did well. This create question in my mind.
1.Will Note 3 & Note 10.1 2014 will get kitkat update, if it get so will current hardware support new kitkat OS?
2.As stated 10.1 2014 has 1.8GHz Samsung Exynos 5420 (4 x Cortex A15/4 x Cortex A7, Mali-T628MP6) processor. As per functional Cortex A15 or Cortex A7 either of one works at a time by running at 1.8GHz or 1.3GHz respectively, providing processing power to specifically required as per apps. But not works simultaneously. Now my doubt is, in future considering the need, would these two Quad core run at same time to provide enough Octa core processing power to run 2015 or latter version of apps? If it is coded so then this tab will be powerful enough to last couple of more updates of OS & sustain hardware capabilities to run future ready heavy apps. As overclocking of CPU & GPU was done in benchmarks it does provide massive power, so would that power be juiced out to run future coming apps? Once the warranty is lapse then I won't mind to safely tweak the hardware to its limits.
What you think will this scenario be practical enough? & function smoothly with bearing more heating limit then current one?
While I consider the views to optimistic towards benchmark issues to sort out in coming days, thanks for your views. This found to be good website.
ckkee - Sunday, December 1, 2013 - linkhi Anand, I have been an avid reader for several years, and always enjoy your insightful thoughts and attempts to push the envelope.
Just bought a Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) Edition. Noticed there is a power saving function easily accessible from notification menu, and can be set to reduce CPU performance only (i.e. leave screen brightness unchanged - under settings|general|power saving mode). Ran Quadrant Standard Edition - 14000 (power saving mode with only CPU constrained) / 18000 (normal), about 22% reduction in CPU performance. In web browsing, watching HD videos and even playing clash of clans, I can't discern the lower performance ie. power savings mode should work well for most people and use cares.
I'm hoping you can re-run the battery tests to determine the potential increase under power savings mode. Assuming there is significant / proportional increase in battery life, this is a salient feature of interest to many readers Iike myself.
Manufacturers like Samsung should also be commended for making such options available in an easy to use manner.
Agm1111 - Saturday, January 4, 2014 - linkI am a very unique user. My computer career began with the RCA Spectra 70, 256KB (yes, KB), 6 gigantic tape drives, a punched card reader and hard drives the size of a washing machine! All of this glorious hardware took up the space of a room and needed a raised floor with a huge A/C unit cooling the whole room. I wrote apps in on COBOL (remember that)?
That was, of course, many years ago. I've been in the 'computer' business ever since.
Thing have changed for sure. I'm holding in my hand a Samsung Note 10.1 2014, high has as much computing power and storage as 100 of those rooms.
I've also changed. I gave leukemia and less than 50% eyesight, 40% hearing, ability, I'm mute and have too many other ailments to mention here.
Several years ago my nurse suggested that I by a tablet. We went to my cell phone carrier and I traded in my phone for a Samsung Tab (7") and it was the best purchase I've ever made.
For 3 long years that Tab helped me do countless things with the plethora of apps I could get (mostly free!) I was used to paying thousands of dollars for applications for both mainframes and PCs.
The Samsung Tab helped me to communicate with others, purchase via the Net anything I needed and so many other things.
But alas, the Tab finally started to show it's wear and age, so I needed to upgrade. As a PC guy, I've always been anti-Apple, mostly because of their closed architecture. They also had very expensive hardware and very little professional level software for their computers. Frankly, if it wasn't for Steve Jobs introducing the iPod, Apple probably would have went out of business years ago. That certainly may be an arguable point, so I'll get back to my account.
When I needed to upgrade from my Samsung Tab, I did some research and decided to purchase an iPad 3. I have to say I was very impressed with the tablet construction, performance and screen/video. There were a few apps that I really liked on my Android that weren't available on the iPad. Meanwhile, my wife followed the current trend and bought her first smart-phone, the iPhone 4s. She loved it.
I used the iPad for about a year and just knew I hand to go back to Android. I did a LOT of research and decided I had to wait for Samsung to release it's next flagship 10" tablet. I waited about 3 months and FINALLY the Samsung Note 10.1 2014 was released.
What I needed was speed and visual clarity, the latest Android (oops, missed "kit-kat") and quality construction.
My phone carrier didn't have the Note 2014 so I went to a big-box store and bought my new Samsung Note 10.1 2014.
While I'm impressed with all the 'hard-core' specs that reviewers have to offer, for me it gets down to real-life usability (for which there is no benchmark). The iPad is a great product, but the long and short of it for me is that the Note 10.1 2014 provides more functionality land usability than any tablet I've researched (and used).
I am working with the S-pen right now, while writing this. The keyboard layout is significantly better than the iPad and the overall design of both hardware and software are excellent. Many of these things are subjective in nature, but for me, in my physical condition, they are a little more than that.
All things said and done, the Samsung Note 10.1 2014 is a GREAT product and deserves the respect it deserves. Apple users, buy the latest and greatest iPad and you'll be happy. But if you are truly objective, give a good, hard look at the latest Samsung 10" tablet.