Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review: Second time lucky

GSMArena team, 17 August 2012.
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Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is a tablet like no other but instead of making a big splash it's busy making up for lost time. With its launch pushed back shortly after the unveiling, Samsung's top-of-the-line tablet returns to a market that isn't what it used to be.

Voice call support, memory expansion and the brilliant S Pen seemed like the right cards to play against the new iPad but it was soon clear that Acer and Asus were a threat that Samsung may've underplayed. And as if the Iconias and Transformers weren't enough of a headache already, the Nexus 7 popped up right when Samsung was getting ready to give their finest tablet the reboot it deserves.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 official photos

Fierce competition to meet ever-increasing user demands has produced a fine selection of premium tablets and, to stay in the game, Samsung had to throw everything it's got at the Galaxy Note 10.1. Yes, it was sent back to the shop but we can think of a lot worse reasons than an engine upgrade.

So, a quad-core Exynos 4412 chipset coupled with 2GB of RAM is no joke but there's more to the Note than just raw power.

Key features

  • 10.1" 16M-color PLS TFT capacitive touchscreen of WXGA resolution (1280 x 800 pixels)
  • 1.4 GHz quad-core Cortex-A9 CPU, Mali-400MP GPU, Exynos 4 Quad chipset, 2GB of RAM
  • Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich with TouchWiz UX UI
  • S Pen input with well-designed gestures
  • One of a kind split-screen multitasking and pop-up mini apps
  • Quad-band GPRS/EDGE and quad-band 3G with HSPA connectivity (HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 Mbps)
  • Voice calls
  • 16/32/64 GB of built-in memory
  • 5 MP autofocus camera, 2592х1944 pixels, geotagging
  • 1.9 MP front-facing camera; native video calls
  • 720p HD video recording @ 30 fps with stereo audio
  • Front-mounted stereo speakers
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n Wi-Fi Direct, dual-band, Wi-Fi hotspot
  • Stereo Bluetooth v3.0
  • HDMI TV-out (adapter required), USB host (adapter required)
  • microSD card slot
  • Standard 3.5 mm audio jack
  • Infrared port
  • Adobe Photoshop Touch and Adobe Ideas come pre-installed
  • GPS with A-GPS support; digital compass
  • 1080p DivX/XviD/MKV video support with subtitles
  • Accelerometer and proximity sensor; three-axis Gyroscope sensor
  • Polaris office document editor preinstalled
  • 7,000 mAh Li-Po battery

Main disadvantages

  • Below-par screen resolution for the class
  • Proprietary 30-pin connector for charging and connectivity
  • No Full-HD and poor 720p video recording
  • Poor outdoors visibility

There's horsepower to spare but, frankly, Samsung is not going to focus on Android power users only. The quad-core processor will mostly see to it that the tablet is future-proof and covered against the main competition.

On the other hand, that very same competition has moved on to Full-HD screens and Samsung is seriously disadvantaged here. The display may do a fine job but just hasn't got the numbers to back it up. And even though the sub-par screen resolution does the device no justice, the Note is a good looking slate, especially in white.

It's running Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich, with an official commitment to a Jelly Bean update. The Galaxy Note 10.1 comes chock-full of useful features and a fantastic selection of home-brewed and third-party apps to get the best out of the S Pen stylus.

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 live photos

So, in the end, there could be a lot of appeal to users who insist on the latest in gear, but also artists and other professionals who know what to do with a proper graphics tablet. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We're about to have another go on the design and build quality, before moving on to the software and equipment of the Galaxy Note 10.1.

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