Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review: Second time lucky

GSMArena team, 17 August 2012.
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Efficient phonebook

The Phone and Contacts app are separated on the Galaxy Note 10.1, as opposed to the Honeycomb approach on tablets with voice call support. What was essentially 5 tabs of the same app are now split into two.

Groups, Contacts and Favorites are in the Contacts app, while Dialer and Logs are part of the Phone app.

There is no History tab for every contact like there used to be in the Honeycomb phonebook, instead individual contacts logs are accessed via the settings menu in the upper right corner.

The contact management is fairly straightforward on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Your contacts get automatically synced with your Google account unless you explicitly disable this and you can also let the Galaxy Note 10.1 sync your social network contacts if you want.

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The Galaxy Note 10.1 contact manager

You get your contacts listed by either first or last name in the left part of the screen, while the details of the currently selected contact appear on the right. There is a handy search field in the top left corner, as well as a shortcut for adding a new contact or deleting the selected one at the opposite side.

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Search the contacts

The advanced menu offers a few more options: edit contact, import/export, join contacts, send or print namecards, get friends via social services, etc.

Editing a single contact is done in a popup window, where the available fields are displayed, with plus and minus signs on the right that let you remove or duplicate details.

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Edit a contact

There's also an Add another field button at the bottom that lets you insert a field that hasn't existed so far for the specific contact.

Custom field names aren't available.

Voice and video telephony

Unlike most other tablets, the 3G-equipped Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 can do calls. Both voice and video calls are natively supported and you won't even need to download to make use of them. You can use the built-in microphone and loudspeaker for the actual calling, you can attach a wired handsfree or you can go with a Bluetooth headset.

The dialer and call log are found in the dedicated Phone app. There's a Favorite contacts tab as well. Smart Dial is available and works like a charm - it searches names and numbers simultaneously. Voice dialing is also enabled.

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Smart dial works like a charm

The available options during a call include using the keypad, muting, holding the call or adding another call to this conversation.

The call log is the tab next to the dial pad. It displays all the dialed, received and missed calls in one list sorting your call history by contacts.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 snatched a Very Good rating in our loudspeaker test putting most of the tablets out there to shame. You can find more about the test itself here.

Speakerphone testVoice, dBPink noise/ Music, dBRinging phone, dBOverall score
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus66.2 65.765.9Below average
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 3G66.266.070.9Average
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.769.1 66.675.7Good
Google Nexus 768.6 65.975.8Good
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.171.769.179.5Very Good
Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 10.172.9 66.682.7Very Good

Messaging

The messaging app (yes, the Note 10.1 does native messaging, too) is similar to that of the phonebook - you get contacts on the left and the conversations on the right. There's an application-specific search that lets you quickly find a given message among all your stored SMS and MMS.

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Texting Dexter on the Galaxy Note 10.1

To add message recipients, just start typing the corresponding name or number and choose from the contacts offered.

When you add multimedia content to the message, it is automatically transformed into an MMS. You can either quickly add a photo or an audio file to go with the text or compose an MMS using all the available features (like multiple slides, slide timing, layout, etc.). The multiple slides are all shown inside the compose box.

Samsung Email and Gmail

The Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with two familiar email applications out of the box - one for your Gmail and a generic one to use with any POP3/IMAP account.

They both have a split-screen interface. Initially, your folders are listed on the left and the emails in the currently selected one appear on the right. Upon clicking on a single message, the list of emails moves to the left tab while the body of the selected one pops up on the right.

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The default email client

Bulk actions are supported too, so you will easily manage mailboxes that get tons of messages.

You can schedule automatic email retrieval or you can disable it completely and only check your mail manually. There's also a handy setting for the client to only download attachments automatically over Wi-Fi.

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The Gmail app

It's basically the same treatment you get on Android smartphones with a few further optimizations permitted by the larger screen.

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Digging into the settings menu

Writing emails is reasonably comfortable with the virtual Samsung QWERTY keyboard occupying about half of the screen. Now, this is no match for a hardware keyboard, but you won't notice any big difference when handling short emails. Samsung has added a fifth numeric row to the keyboard.

Samsung have thrown in two additional keyboard layouts to try and suit everyone's taste. With a quick pinch on the full-size keyboard you can chose to switch to a small floating keyboard and a split keyboard. Choosing the latter allows you to quickly thumb-type while holding the tablet without stretching your thumbs too much.

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The big and small keyboards • handwriting is also supported

There's auto correction and auto capitalization available, and you can enable sounds on key presses. There's haptic feedback too.

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