The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition takes after this year's flagship phablet and isn't keen on experimenting. The tablet is a scaled-up near replica of the Note 3, featuring the same faux-leather-like finish at the rear. It is offered in the same black and white paint jobs as the Note 3.
At 243.1 x 171.4 x 7.9 mm, the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 is near 2cm narrower and a millimeter slimmer than the predecessor while offering the same screen real estate and a more robust battery. The Wi-Fi-only version weighs 540g, which is 60g less than the original Note 10.1.
The screen bezels are notably slimmer, which is probably the main reason for the relocation of the stereo speakers to the sides (in landscape position). We liked the front-facing speakers on the original better, but their position on the 2014 edition is sufficiently high to not get covered by hands holding the device and are quite loud too.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 insists on having the hardware controls at the front. Beneath the display we find the usual combo of a hardware Home button between capacitive Menu and Back keys. We don't think this is the best solution as those get in the way once you start using the tablet in portrait mode. Those occasions are rather rare but once you decide to use it that way, accidental taps on the Back key are likely.
The hardware controls below and the 2MP camera above the display
At the top (in landscape) we find an IR blaster, the Power/Lock button and the slim volume rocker next to it.
The top side houses IR emitter, the volume rocker and the power/lock key
The microphone is at the bottom, which is something to consider if you're going to make Skype or Viber calls in loudspeaker mode (the mic can get muffled depending on where you place the tablet). That, by the way, applies to calls over the cellular network too, which the other versions are perfectly capable of. Our unit though is the Wi-Fi-only version with no GSM, 3G or LTE radios on board. A standard microUSB port is also around and used for charging . We are happy to see Samsung has dropped the proprietary 30-pin connector.
The microphone and the microUSB port at the bottom
The left side of the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition has the 3.5mm audio jack and one of the stereo speakers, under a subtle metallic grille. On the right we find the S-Pen compartment, the other speaker and the microSD slot, covered by a small plastic lid.
The 3.5mm audio jack is on the left • The other speaker and the microSD slot on the right
The S Pen is the same that comes with the Galaxy Note 3 phablet. It can now be used on the capacitive buttons too, so you can navigate the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 with the stylus only. The new S Pen enables several great shortcuts, so using the stylus might actually be faster for certain tasks.
The S Pen can be placed back into its compartment either side up, the button facing up or down. The stylus is made of matte plastic, with a finely grooved top part that matches the sides of the Note 10.1. The flat sides of the stylus actually allow an even more comfortable grip. The button is positioned on one of those flat sides and is easy to reach. We found it a bit unusual that the S Pen compartment is actually in the tablet's long side but it's quite comfortable - for right-handed users obviously, being in the top right corner.
The S-Pen compartment
At the back of the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 we find an upgraded 8MP camera with an LED flash next to it. The camera is quite capable of shooting the occasional photos and 1080p videos.
The back of the Galaxy Note 10.1 • A close-up of the camera
The tablet has lost a bit of weight, which can definitely be felt, and is more space-efficient. The bezels have been trimmed down as well. Edges appear sharper on the latest Note 10.1 and, coupled with the slimmer body and feel of leather, lend a more conservative, businesslike quality to the package as a whole.
Handling the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 can be held with one hand and operated with the other, but at about half a kilo you will soon need to find some kind of support. The build is excellent though, and the leather-like rear not only adds a touch of sophistication but also nicely enhances the grip. We had fears the finish wouldn't works as well on a bigger scale, but the ten-inch Note looks and feels great.
The 10.1" Super Clear LCD now has four times the resolution of the original Galaxy Note 10.1 at 2560 x 1600 pixels. This adds up to 299ppi, which is the highest available on a tablet at this screen size. In fact, the iPad's Retina has long been outstripped by no other than Samsung themselves with the Nexus 10. The screen of the latter could actually have been used on the 2014 Edition Note 10.1, but Samsung claim they're different.
Samsung lets you select between four display modes for your Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 - adaptive, dynamic, normal and movie. Naturally, those that are fond of the extra punchy colors should opt for the dynamic setting.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 screen mode manager
Numbers aside, the image quality is excellent. Viewing angles are very good and blacks look reasonably deep. The outdoor visibility has been greatly improved too. We ran our usual display tests on the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 and here are the results:
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014
Google Nexus 10
Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Sony Xperia Tablet S
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
Apple iPad mini
Apple iPad 3
Apple iPad 4
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
Asus Google Nexus 7
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1
Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus
The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 is powered by a massive 8220 mAh Li-Po battery. By Samsung's estimates, it should give you 2230 hours of standby and 98 hours of music playback. We did our own tests too, and the tablet managed 9 hours of video playback and 7 hours and 39 minutes of web browsing.