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

Today's review of Samsung's Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) includes the LTE-capable and Wi-Fi-only tablets, allowing us to compare Samsung's own Exynos 5 Octa platform to Qualcomm's Snapdragon 800. Can either configuration usurp Apple's iPad Air?

TouchWiz: Samsung's Take On Android

While many people may not know (or even care) what version of Android their device has, or even know what TouchWiz is, what's important to Samsung is that the experience is familiar to someone who is already accustomed to previously using a Galaxy-branded device.

From the S Pen capabilities to the TouchWiz overlay, if you took the pure Google Nexus 10 and sought to make it more familiar to the millions of Galaxy Note owners, you'd get the Note 10.1 (2014).

The Nexus 10 is a full-sized, 10-inch, Google-branded tablet manufactured by Samsung. The standout feature has got to be its previously unprecedented (for a tablet) 2560x1600 QHD-class resolution. Under the hood is the Samsung Exynos 5 Dual SoC, 2 GB of LPDDR3 memory, a whopping 9000 mAh battery, and is available with either 16 or 32 GB of internal storage. Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, microUSB, and microHDMI round out the Nexus 10's connectivity options.

While many people oppose the idea of TouchWiz and other third-party Android overlays, we can't blame Samsung for doing it, and we're even surprised it took the company this long to make an upgraded and branded variant of the Nexus 10.

Buttons

With the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014, Samsung builds upon its strategy of unifying the "Samsung Experience" found on the Galaxy S4 and Note 3 smartphones. This means forgoing the on-screen buttons, established by Android 3.0 Honeycomb, in favor of the capacitive Menu, hardware Home, and capacitive Back buttons we know today.

We can't overstate how damaging Menu buttons are to Google's user experience since Android 4.0 (and arguably even earlier in Android 3.x). The hidden menu is not in the novice user's best interest. While it might have seemed natural in the Eclair, FroYo, and Gingerbread eras, it creates an unnecessarily steep learning curve for new users, since it hides contextual options that should otherwise be self-evident.

The Galaxy Note Pro and Galaxy Tab Pro lines, as well as the Galaxy S5, show that Samsung is finally getting the message. The company replaces the capacitive Menu button with an App Switching button, which is a huge relief given the multitude of functions previously assigned to the Home button. Unfortunately, even though the company is now using the same buttons as the stock operating system, the order is reversed, so a learning curve is still present for those coming from most other Android-based products.

As for the physical actuation of the buttons, the Home button is just the right firmness and "clickiness" for our liking. The power button and volume rocker are situated at the top of the device when you're holding it in landscape mode, so taking the Home button placement into consideration, it's obvious that Samsung was hinting that this is the intended orientation for the Note 10.1 2014.

  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • adamovera
    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.
    Reply
  • adamovera
    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.
    Reply
  • 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!
    Reply
  • adamovera
    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.
    Reply
  • 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.
    Reply
  • 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...
    Reply