Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition review
An excellent tablet in all departments – pricey for an Android tablet, but the best in the market right now
Samsung has a bewildering array of tablets and smartphones out at the moment, but there's nothing confusing about where the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition sits. It's the Korean firm's top-of-the-range consumer tablet, and it's designed to rival such products as the Nexus 10, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX 8.9in, Sony Xperia Tablet Z and Apple iPad Air. See also the 11 best tablets of 2014
It certainly has the price and specification to match those aspirations. It costs £399 inc VAT, boasts a 10.1in high-DPI 2,560 x 1,600 resolution screen, a 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos octa-core processor, an 8-megapixel camera and – as with all the Note products – a pressure-sensitive stylus, which slots neatly into the top-right corner of the tablet.
Other notable features include an infrared transmitter that turns the tablet into a universal remote control for your TV and set-top box, and 802.11ac Wi-Fi. Surprisingly, there's only 16GB of built-in storage, but there is a microSDXC slot for adding more.
The design is reasonably high-end, too, with a seamless strip of chrome-effect plastic surrounding the edge and a white plastic rear, imprinted with a leather-effect pattern. If this sounds cheesy, it doesn't come across so in the flesh. The Note 10.1 doesn't wow like the iPad Air or the Xperia Tablet Z, and isn't particularly light at 535g. However, there isn't anything cheap about its design. It's certainly a big improvement on the first Note 10.1, which was bulkier and heavier.
Fire it up, and the good impressions continue. The screen – as is typical of Samsung's flagship devices – boasts a bright and fully saturated look, and with a pixel density of 299ppi, it matches the Nexus 10 and outdoes the iPad Air. It's a magnificently crisp display.
Resolution isn't everything, however, and on the quality front, the Note 10.1 also scores highly. Measured with our colorimeter, the display hit a maximum brightness of 367cd/m2 and a contrast level of 798:1. It isn't as bright or quite as colour-accurate as the iPad Air – it crushes greys into blacks a touch more, and whites are a shade yellow – but again we're splitting hairs here, and fine ones at that.
Performance, battery life and camera
With an eight-core SoC inside, it looks well up to the job of keeping Android 4.3 running smoothly, too. In fact, the Note's Samsung Exynos 5 Octa comprises a pair of quad-core processors: one clocked at 1.9GHz for demanding tasks such as games, and the other clocked at 1.3GHz, which kicks in when such high power isn't required – watching video, for instance, or listening to music. In addition, there's a sizeable 3GB of RAM, and a six-core Mali-T628 GPU for gaming.
In benchmark testing, we found it to be quick, but not quite as rapid as the iPad Air. In the GFXBench T-Rex HD test run at native resolution, for instance, the Note 10.1 gained an average of 14fps; the Air scored 21fps. Its SunSpider result is a touch more impressive at 612ms, but again it lags behind the iPad Air's 391ms. In Geekbench 3, its scores were excellent, with 931 and 2,602 in the single- and multi-core tests, but behind the Apple tablet once more.
Things begin to look up when you begin to compare it with its Android rivals. Overall, the Note 10.1 2014 Edition is on a par with the superb Kindle Fire HDX 8.9in, and faster than the Nexus 10 and Xperia Tablet Z. It's as fast an Android tablet as you can buy right now, and lacks for nothing when it comes to responsiveness and overall feel. There's no discernible typing lag when entering text with the onscreen keyboard, and menus and homescreen animations are generally stutter-free.
|Price ex VAT||£333|
|Price inc VAT||£400|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||4|
|Dimensions||242 x 8.7 x 170mm (WDH)|
|Resolution screen horizontal||2,560|
|Resolution screen vertical||1,600|
|Display type||IPS touchscreen|
|CPU frequency, MHz||2MHz|
|Camera megapixel rating||8.0mp|
|Mobile operating system||Android 4.3|