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
Memory 3GB 1GB 2GB
Storage 16GB—64GB + microSD 16GB/32GB + microSD 16GB/32GB + microSD
Battery 31Wh 25.84Wh ~17Wh
Starting Price $549 $399 $399



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.

SunSpider 0.9.1 Benchmark

SunSpider 1.0 Benchmark

Mozilla Kraken Benchmark (Stock Browser)

Google Octane v1

Vellamo 2.0.2 - HTML5

Vellamo 2.0.2 - Metal


GPU & NAND Performance
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  • sundragon - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    "Not really, while it is not a reference ARM design, apple have only modified it slightly, but it is still a conventional arm v8 chip."

    Please state the ARM chip that corrolates to it?

    It's not an ARM 53/57... It is, however, an Apple designed chip using the ARMv8 architecture...

    The Exynos is a plain ARM 15... It's baked into a Samsung designed SOC...
  • Shootergod - Sunday, December 1, 2013 - link

    I don't know that Note 10.1 2014 beat both iphone 5s and ipad air in geekbench 3 scores and Note 10.1 2014 LTE ver. which runs Snapdragon 800 with Adreno 330 beats out every single behcnmark of apple latest devices,so? what is your point? sounds more like you are a butt-hurt ish**p filling with so much insecurities to give reasons and bash others at any time LOL! take care noob,don't say something just by reviews(made up by apple fanboys).Google some real-deal performence and multitasking skills of this tablet before you even begin to bark :) ok?
  • apandya27 - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    Actually the A7 isn't designed by ARM, its a custom design by Apple (they license from ARM). Its been custom since the A5 I think.
  • teiglin - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    You should be clear if you want to refer to the Apple A7 SoC (with its Cyclone cores) in an article about a chip that contains four ARM Cortex A7 cores. Cyclone is the second generation of fully custom cores designed by Apple--the Swift cores in Apple's A6 SoC last year were the first, while the A5 featured a pair of Cortex A9s.
  • apandya27 - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    My mistake. Yes I was referring to the Apple A7 chip being custom designed. Thanks!
  • Sarav - Wednesday, October 2, 2013 - link

    Only since A6 which used 'Swift' cores. A5 just used regular ARM cortex A9 cores I think.
  • MySchizoBuddy - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    According to article here at anandtech. Apple A7 is indeed Apple designed CPU that implements the ARM ISA. it ISN'T designed by ARM. it was clearly mentioned by anand when he talked about the A7.
  • ananduser - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    It says more about ARMv8 vs ARMv7. It also says more about benchmarks not being able to use multiple cores. The Mali GPU however is surprisingly decent. I expected Imagination's PowerVR, that Apple uses, to be an order of magnitude better.
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    The iPhone 5S GPU is surprisingly decent for a phone though. Apple's A7X expected in the iPad 5 would have either 6 or 8 PowerVR clusters following tradition. This would be a 50 to 100% boost in theoretical GPU performance. There is a chance that Apple's A7X would be a triple or quad core CPU too.
  • danbob999 - Tuesday, October 1, 2013 - link

    It's not about ARMv8 vs ARMv7. The benchmarks are probably still compiled for ARMv7. Apple almost always lead in javascript benchmark. Even when they used a standard ARM design (such as Cortex A8) at lower clock speed. So all we know is that even with a slower CPU, Apple still comes ahead in javascript benchmarks. It doesn't mean their CPU is any faster.

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