Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Review: Wi-Fi Vs. LTE

Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) Wi-Fi Or LTE?

In a world where Apple's iPad is the dominant force, the tablet space is evolving differently than the smartphone market, despite similar origins. For the Note 10.1 2014, Samsung clearly puts forward a compelling alternative. Whether it's the insanely beautiful 2560x1600 display, S Pen functionality, dual stereo speakers, or other TouchWiz features like Multi Window, there is plenty to sway potential buyers away from the Apple camp.

On paper, the Exynos 5 Octa 5420 should be an absolute beast, but we experienced more than our fair share of odd hiccups while navigating the TouchWiz interface. While we don't believe this is indicative of the hardware's capabilities, it's a little concerning since Android is mature enough that mid-range phones like the Moto G run the operating system more smoothly. Rather, we suspect the performance issues come from a combination of a 2560x1600 resolution and Samsung's much-maligned TouchWiz interface. Despite random frame drops, the Note 10.1 is still quite capable in Web browsing, gaming, media consumption, multitasking, and S Pen utilization.

When it comes to our benchmark suite, including raw CPU, GPU, and battery performance, we have to give the edge to the Snapdragon 800-equipped Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) LTE. It consistently has good, if not better, performance than the Exynos 5 Octa-equipped Wi-Fi model.

But is that enough to warrant a price premium and the service fees related to an LTE subscription? That's entirely situational, and probably more tied to your need for Internet access away from hotspots than the performance of any given SoC. You'll pay for the LTE model if you want a cellular modem. You won't pay more for it just to get Qualcomm's more capable architecture. If Wi-Fi support is as fancy as you get, then the Exynos-based model will be your natural choice.

Fortunately, Web-oriented benchmarks are a boon for the Wi-Fi version of the Note 10.1 (2014 Edition); it outperforms the LTE version in just about every test. However, both models still fall behind the iPad Air almost universally, reinforcing the idea that there is plenty of room to improve the responsiveness of Android-based tablet. We've seen Intel do a lot of work on this front, and we're eager to see how the company's engineering resources might go into user experience improvements now that it's involved in more Android-based hardware.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) Wi-Fi

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) LTE

Displays on both Note 10.1 models are the same, so the results are fairly close with small variations attributed to physically different panels. The luxurious QHD screen is very good, and is probably a selling point for anyone interested in purchasing the Galaxy Note.

Overall, major wins include the great display and improved S Pen integration. The stereo speakers and overall build quality could use some work, though. We'd like to see front-facing speakers and more premium materials (or better finishes for polycarbonate). Finally, aspects that definitely need improvement are software optimization and the reduction of bloatware. This should be addressed similar to the way HTC streamlined the latest versions of Sense UI, and possibly by leveraging the Samsung App Store for those who want extra software.

The only thing really stopping us from recommending the Note 10.1 2014 over the iPad Air, or even Google's Nexus 10, is the higher cost of $550. Apple has the iPad Air selling for $500 and the aging Nexus 10 is priced at just $400. Both are arguably better values. Not to mention, odd performance hiccups shouldn't be happening at this point in the tablet game.

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If you're looking for the best overall tablet in the $500 to $600 price range, the Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) is a tough sell. And unless the S Pen functionality really entices you to try the Note line, the situation probably won't change until Samsung irons out its software's performance kinks or blows us away with innovative, must-have features we haven't experienced yet.

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21 comments
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  • blackmagnum
    The only possible way Samsung mobile devices can be a worthwhile alternative to Apple is when they ditch the every-man Android and create their own tightly controlled/ managed OS like Apple. Do that and consumers might not feel like they're just buying the Samsung for the hardware.
    -4
  • Farrwalker
    On page 7. Results: CPU Core Benchmarks:
    Your bar graph "MobileXPRT 2013" seems to be in error.
    For example, the text says, "Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi leads with 300 points . . ."
    but the bar is the shortest and indicates less than 150 points.
    0
  • blueer03
    You need to proofread this big time. From page 9:
    Samsung's Exynos-based Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi holds its own against the Tegra Note 7, while the LTE version of the Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) again falls significantly behind its Snapdragon 800-powered Wi-Fi counterpart.

    And this happens all throughout. The LTE is a Snapdragon, the Wifi is an Exynos. Keep repeating that to yourself as you re-write the descriptions and it will make this easier to read.
    0
  • Kevin Harrelson
    We got one of these for my son (age 13) to help with his school work. We got it from Best Buy and got the extended warranty. Both sound dumb, but it was actually a good move! The backlight has gone out on this thing TWICE. I happen to think that it is a lovely little tablet, but the backlight is a major reliability issue.
    1
  • adamovera
    Quote:
    On page 7. Results: CPU Core Benchmarks: Your bar graph "MobileXPRT 2013" seems to be in error. For example, the text says, "Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi leads with 300 points . . ." but the bar is the shortest and indicates less than 150 points.

    This benchmark's sub-tests produce scores in seconds (lower is better), and the overall score is given as a typical higher-is-better score, so the lowest bar indicates the fastest completion. Sorry about the confusion, I'll look into other ways to represent this test.
    2
  • adamovera
    Quote:
    You need to proofread this big time. From page 9: Samsung's Exynos-based Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi holds its own against the Tegra Note 7, while the LTE version of the Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) again falls significantly behind its Snapdragon 800-powered Wi-Fi counterpart. And this happens all throughout. The LTE is a Snapdragon, the Wifi is an Exynos. Keep repeating that to yourself as you re-write the descriptions and it will make this easier to read.

    Good catch, thanks! Fixed.
    2
  • Tomtompiper
    The 2014 is almost 5 months old and has been superseded by the Amoled screened Galaxy Tab S 10.1 which wipes the floor with the opposition. http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_tab_s_105-review-1097.php Do try to keep up!
    0
  • adamovera
    Quote:
    The 2014 is almost 5 months old and has been superseded by the Amoled screened Galaxy Tab S 10.1 which wipes the floor with the opposition. http://www.gsmarena.com/samsung_galaxy_tab_s_105-review-1097.php Do try to keep up!

    Actually, you'd think this has been phased out, but it's the current 10-inch Galaxy "Note" product, meaning it has the S Pen. The Galaxy "Tab" S does not - still unclear to me what makes the "S" stand out. I believe Samsung is literally attempting to offer an alternative product to every single other device in existence - complete mobile domination. I lost count of their current "Galaxy" line at 11 products, and that was awhile back.

    The duo of Note 10.1 (2014)'s came in very handy both as comparison data in other articles and as testbeds for compiling our benchmark suite. Unfortunately, the article had to be pushed back several times, but the huge hardware difference between products carrying the same name was always something we wanted to illustrate, initially for the chipset-vs-chipset angle, but later for the optimization aspect as well. We're currently working through a small backlog of mobility articles, but each will be more timely than the last. My apologies.
    3
  • Blazer1985
    I really wish Samsung could help the end user distinguish what they are buying. The 2 Note are classified as "LTE" and "WIFI ONLY" which sounds like 2 equal devices except for the sim card slot while they actually have a totally different soc.
    1
  • vaughn2k
    ... and Samsung prices are now on par with Apple's. others are okay. Will wait for Asus and other competition. Should be cheaper though...
    0
  • Ninjawithagun
    These benchmarks are fundamentally flawed. No where is there mention that both the Nexus and Apple iPad Air use lower resolution displays, which dramatically reduces the overall load on the CPU and GPU vs. the Samsung Note devices. The benchmarks are completely useless since an "apples-to-oranges" comparison is not a valid methodology for comparing these uniquely different tablets. And why was the new Samsung Tab S used instead of the year old 2014 Edition versions? Another "fail" on behalf of the author.
    -2
  • godnodog
    As a user of the Note 10.1 2012, I have to strongly disagree with the new multitasking sytem, as it is clearly a step backwards from what it used to be, now you can ONLY have 2 windows opened, as I, by not installing the update, can have 4 / 5 / 6 opened, obviously I don´t have them opened, but I frequently have 3 windows opened simultaniously, wich now I can´t have. Also it apperars that the multitask is no longer floating, agains mine that still does. I have experienced no problem whatsoever like you described "were slow, unresponsive, or just plain bad".
    0
  • wiltjk
    A key point of your review is that this is about a "pen" tablet. Not having used a physical keyboard since 2003, I am pleased to see some alternatives to the Intel/Windows dominated offerings.

    It is a good review for apples to apples on the Samsung hardware options.

    Would you suggest that this is "as-good-as-it-gets" for the few who prefer pen-based tablets? Any foresight in other pen based tablets?
    1
  • Zarathvstra
    Quote:
    These benchmarks are fundamentally flawed. No where is there mention that both the Nexus and Apple iPad Air use lower resolution displays, which dramatically reduces the overall load on the CPU vs. the Samsung Note devices. The benchmarks are completely useless since an "apples-to-oranges" comparison is not a valid methodology for comparing these uniquely different tablets. And why was the new Samsung Tab S used instead of the year old 2014 Edition versions? Another "fail" on behalf of the author.


    Ninjawithagun,
    Tablets are not modular like a pc... whilst it may have been good for the author the resolution issue with these benchmarks, an apples to apples comparison of the individual components would NOT help the user decide which unit as a whole is the fastest as indeed, they are NOT modular.
    0
  • Ninjawithagun
    1709512 said:
    Quote:
    These benchmarks are fundamentally flawed. No where is there mention that both the Nexus and Apple iPad Air use lower resolution displays, which dramatically reduces the overall load on the CPU vs. the Samsung Note devices. The benchmarks are completely useless since an "apples-to-oranges" comparison is not a valid methodology for comparing these uniquely different tablets. And why was the new Samsung Tab S used instead of the year old 2014 Edition versions? Another "fail" on behalf of the author.
    Ninjawithagun, Tablets are not modular like a pc... whilst it may have been good for the author the resolution issue with these benchmarks, an apples to apples comparison of the individual components would NOT help the user decide which unit as a whole is the fastest as indeed, they are NOT modular.


    Not true. Most (not all) tablets are in fact modular in that the CPU and GPU operate independently of one another. Case in point, the Apple A7 uses a dual-core 64-bit SOC processor and PowerVR G6430 graphics chip. The Samsung uses the Exynos 5 Octa processor with a Mali-T628 MP6 graphics chip. Your definition of modular is fundamentally flawed in that you think it pertains to physical ability for individual items to removed/replaced. Modular infers to the actual architecture of the system in that several different parts from different manufactures are integrated together to function as a whole unit.
    0
  • Zarathvstra
    Quote:
    1709512 said:
    Quote:
    These benchmarks are fundamentally flawed. No where is there mention that both the Nexus and Apple iPad Air use lower resolution displays, which dramatically reduces the overall load on the CPU vs. the Samsung Note devices. The benchmarks are completely useless since an "apples-to-oranges" comparison is not a valid methodology for comparing these uniquely different tablets. And why was the new Samsung Tab S used instead of the year old 2014 Edition versions? Another "fail" on behalf of the author.
    Ninjawithagun, Tablets are not modular like a pc... whilst it may have been good for the author the resolution issue with these benchmarks, an apples to apples comparison of the individual components would NOT help the user decide which unit as a whole is the fastest as indeed, they are NOT modular.
    Not true. Most (not all) tablets are in fact modular in that the CPU and GPU operate independently of one another. Case in point, the Apple A7 uses a dual-core 64-bit SOC processor and PowerVR G6430 graphics chip. The Samsung uses the Exynos 5 Octa processor with a Mali-T628 MP6 graphics chip. Your definition of modular is fundamentally flawed in that you think it pertains to physical ability for individual items to removed/replaced. Modular infers to the actual architecture of the system in that several different parts from different manufactures are integrated together to function as a whole unit.


    This does not argue to the point. Here's a fact and the crux of the matter... An apples to apples comparison of gpu's and processors does NOT tell the user how apps will perform on tablet x when constrained by their other components be it amount of ram, screen res, gpu, cpu etc.

    i.e. benchmarks are not "fundamentally flawed" (nor is my understanding and use of the term modular)
    -1
  • apertotes
    I think it is deceiving to not point out on the table on first page that memory can easily be expanded with a cheap microsd card. It is not 16/32 gb, it's 16/32+128 gb.
    1
  • szalkerous
    At first I thought there was something new, and I realized this is a review for a tablet I bought last year.

    FYI, the KitKat update makes the SD card practically useless. Rooting these tablets is frustrating at best, and the KNOX system is the most terrible idea Samsung ever came up with.

    Looking back, I should have gotten a Nexus.
    0
  • apertotes
    71378 said:
    FYI, the KitKat update makes the SD card practically useless.


    How can it be useless having 128 gb for music and videos/pictures? Maybe you can afford spotify and paying 15 dollars every month for an upgraded dropbox account, but many people don't, or even if they do, they do not have a reliable LTE signal 24/7.
    0
  • SoPhat VaThana
    good
    0