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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?

Results: CPU Core Benchmarks

AnTuTu

AnTuTu is an Android system benchmark designed to test the performance capabilities of four major aspects of mobile devices: graphics (encompassing 2D, UI, and basic 3D); CPU (fixed, floating-point, and threading); RAM (read and write); and I/O (read and write).

The Tegra Note 7 and both Galaxy Note 10.1 models fall within striking distance of one another; the two Note 10.1 devices benchmark ahead of the Nexus 7 (2013) by a very wide margin.

While it's obvious that the Snapdragon S4 Pro-powered Nexus 7 (2013) would trail the other tablets, the performance difference between the Tegra Note 7 and pair of Galaxy Note 10.1s is quite narrow. With near-even UX, RAM, CPU, and I/O capabilities, the gap seems to mostly come from GPU performance. Unsurprisingly, the Tegra 4-powered Note 7 comes out with the best GPU score, followed closely by the ARM Mali-T626-powered Note 10.1 (2014) Wi-Fi, and then the Adreno 330-powered Note 10.1 (2014) LTE.

While the Wi-Fi and LTE models seem closely matched, remember that AnTuTu tests only a very basic implementation of 3D graphics, and we expect the gap to widen as the graphics tests become more intense.

Basemark OS II

Rightware is an experienced multiplatform benchmark developer. The company leverages this experience with Basemark OS II, an all-in-one tool designed for measuring the overall performance of mobile devices. The test is available on all major smartphone platforms, including Android, iOS, and Windows Phone 8. Basemark OS II uses a similar approach to Geekbench, but focuses on more application-specific areas, particularly User eXperience (UX), Web browsing, and rendering performance.

The Basemark OS II scores are quite interesting, as Apple's iPad Air beats the Snapdragon 800-powered Note 10.1 (2014) LTE by a slim margin. Both have a healthy lead over the Exynos 5 Octa (5420)-powered Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi, as well as the almost one-year-old Nexus 7 (2013). What's most surprising is that the Tegra 4-powered Note 7 falls far behind every other tablet, even on graphics performance.

In this metric, the LTE model's Adreno 330 blows away all other GPUs to the point that even the iPad Air, with its noticeably superior System and Web scores, just barely beats the Snapdragon 800-powered Note 10.1 (2014) LTE. The Exynos Octa-powered Note 10.1 (2014) Wi-Fi's score falls somewhere between the Note 10.1 (2014) LTE and Nexus 7 (2013). It seems like Nvidia's Tegra 4 simply doesn't run well in Basemark OS II, as it performs quite badly in the graphics portion of the benchmark, resulting in a score less than half that of the top two tablets.

Geekbench 3

Primate Labs' Geekbench is somewhat of an industry standard due to its long-standing database and wide cross-platform compatibility (Windows/OS X/Linux/iOS/Android). This simple system benchmark produces two sets of scores: single- and multi-threaded. For each, it runs a series of tests in three categories: Integer, Floating Point, and Memory. The individual results are used to calculate category scores, which, in turn, generate overall Geekbench scores.

The iPad Air benchmarks better by a country mile in the Single-Core test. This is one of the stronger scores for Apple's A7 SoC, dominating in Integer and Floating Point calculations, as well as Memory testing.

Both Note 10.1 (2014) units, as well as the Tegra Note 7, finish closely behind Apple's flagship tablet with scores in the mid-900s. Finally, the Nexus 7 2013 finishes with a much lower score, as expected, though not by nearly as much, since this test holds no graphics component.

Analysis gets more complicated in the Multi-Core scores, where the Note 7 trails Apple's iPad Air ever so slightly. Samsung's Exynos-powered Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi, on the other hand, bests the iPad Air ever so slightly, while the Snapdragon 800-powered Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) LTE leads, scoring just short of 3000 points.

MobileXPRT 2013

Principled Technologies' MobileXPRT 2013 is a modern SoC benchmark for Android. It consists of 10 real-world test scenarios split into two categories of testing: Performance and User Experience. The Performance suite contains five tests: Apply Photo Effects, Create Photo Collages, Create Slideshow, Encrypt Personal Content, and Detect Faces to Organize Photos.

The Snapdragon 800-powered Note 10.1 (2014 Edition) Wi-Fi leads with 300 points, while the Snapdragon-powered LTE version follows closely behind at 214.5 points. The Tegra Note 7 trails significantly, achieving 206.5 points.

The User Experience suite also has five tests: List Scroll, Grid Scroll, Gallery Scroll, Browser Scroll, and Zoom and Pinch. These results are measured in frames per second. The category scores are generated by taking a geometric mean of the ratio between a calibrated machine (Motorola's Droid Razr M) and the test device for each subtest.

To many people, this is the most important test to look at, as User Experience measures the responsiveness of the most common gestures performed by users on their smartphones. Many purists clamor for the stock Android experience, often for its responsiveness. And these results might be the most convincing evidence for wanting a stock device. The much older Nexus 7 and Tegra Note 7—both of which run stock versions of Android—score better than both versions of the Note 10.1 (2014 Edition). There is a sharp difference between the two Galaxy devices. The often-better-performing Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 loses harshly to Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa. We'll have to chalk that one up to Samsung's production of more efficient drivers for its own in-house chips.