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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review

 Review: September 2012  

Last updated May 2014

Rating: 4 stars

In a nutshell: The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a 10 inch tablet with a quad-core processor, split-screen multitasking, strong media capabilities, an S-Pen digital stylus and good battery life. It also runs Google Ice Cream Sandwich and comes with Adobe PhotoShop Touch pre-installed.


A full-sized Galaxy Note

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a tablet-sized version of the Galaxy Note phone/tablet hybrid. Or, to put it another way, the Note 10.1 is a turbocharged version of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. It's got a new version of Android (4.0), a quad-core processor, an upgraded camera and an S-Pen stylus.

In terms of looks, the Note 10.1 may not be in quite the same league as the new iPad, but it's still a good-looking tablet with a choice of silvery white or blue grey finishes. It's slimmer and lighter than an iPad, so there! It has a large 10 inch HD display that's ideal for all kinds of activities such as games, watching HD videos, editing photos and documents and taking notes. You can certainly do a lot more with a 10 inch tablet than with a smaller device, even if it is larger and heavier to carry around.

Quad-core power for multitasking

The Note 10.1 is powered by an extremely fast 1.4GHz quad-core processor. It comes with a huge 2GB of RAM, and is available with memory of 16GB, 32GB or 64GB. You can add more memory using the microSD card slot. These specs make it one of the most powerful tablets available. The Note makes use of this processing power with a full multitasking ability. Just press the multi screen button and you can split the 10" screen in half and run two apps side by side. The splitscreen mode is ideal for copying and pasting between documents.

Battery life is very good. The Note 10.1 comes with a whopping 7000 mAh battery which is capable of lasting a full working day on a single charge. Only the new iPad will last longer.

The Note 10.1 comes with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, with an update to 4.1 Jelly Bean on the cards for later in 2012. With Android you can access Google Play for apps, music, videos and other media. Samsung's music, video and games hubs come pre-installed on the tablet.

S-Pen: more than a stylus

It's the S-Pen that makes this tablet part of the Note series. The S-Pen is more than a stylus. Its pressure sensitivity detects how hard you're pressing. This means that it's the perfect tool for handwriting (which the Note can understand) and editing photos.

The S-Pen lets you do some cool things. You can make notes or doodle over photos, just like with pen and paper. You can use Shape Match to turn a rough sketch of a graph into a proper neat graph with straight lines and numbers. There's a formula recognition tool that will turn handwritten mathematical formulae into digital form and even plot graphs. You can also use the S-Pen to draw pictures and edit photos, so it could be the ideal platform for using PhotoShop Touch, which comes free with the Note. PhotoShop Touch is a reduced-functionality version of PhotoShop, optimised for touch and the use of the S-Pen.

We're not sure how many people are going to really use the S-Pen. After all, the capacitive touchscreen works perfectly well for 90% of the things you want to do with a tablet. Unless you're a student or a designer, the S-Pen may well stay tucked up in its handy storage slot.


S-Planner is a built-in app that makes it easy to manage your calendar and make plans. It's a much more comprehensive planning app than most, and it makes good use of the S-Pen, letting you touch dates and other items that would be fiddly to do with a finger. So, maybe the S-Pen is more useful than we first thought. You can sync it with Google Calendar, Microsoft Exchange, etc.

There are various other S-Pen apps available, including 9 games, all pre-installed on the Note.

5 megapixel camera

The Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with a 5 megapixel camera, which is a stet up from the 3 megapixels of the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The camera has an LED flash as well as autofocus, digital zoom, panorama, smile shot, face detection and blink detection. It's capable of taking some high quality images, but only if you don't mind looking like an idiot taking photos with a paving slab. It can also record HD video.

A second front-facing camera enables self portraits and video calling and is a much more practical option on a tablet.

Easy Phone Sync

Do you currently use iTunes for music or videos or podcasts? You can sync your Note with iTunes too with the Easy Phone Sync app. You can also use it to transfer iPhone or iPad contacts, messages and photos.

Connect to anything

The Galaxy Note 10.1 comes with both 3G HSPA and a fallback GSM/EDGE connection for internet access on the go. It has dual-channel Wi-Fi too, for double-speed data access. There's Bluetooth 4.0 wireless connectivity for connecting to other tablets and phones. You can plug the Note into a USB, and it has a HDMI port for connecting to a TV. There's also a 3.5mm headphone jack.

Conclusion - Very good, but over-priced

Don't misunderstand us. The Galaxy Note 10.1 is a lovely tablet. It's very powerful with its quad-core processor, multitasking and large 10 inch screen. It comes with some good pre-installed apps, like PhotoShop Touch and S-Planner. It's a good platform for all kinds of media and has strong battery life too. But at £400, it's the same price as a new iPad and £100 more than the Galaxy Tab 10.1. You're effectively paying £100 for a stylus, and that doesn't seem like good value to us. Unless you're a designer or you really think you'd make good use of the S-Pen, you'd find better value for money elsewhere.

Update (May 2014): The new 2014 version of the Note 10.1 is now available - it's smaller, lighter and massively more powerful.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 features include:

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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 user reviews

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Average rating from 4 reviews:

Reviewed by Konrad c from UK on 25th Apr 2014
I have had the tablet after searching a week before since the price fell to 259. I have a Lenovo tablet so my profile and settings (including the saved wifi links), all loaded fine. Everything works fine but the gallery keeps defaulting to access my cloud based albums, making loading of pictures on the tablet very slow. I have to keep changing settings to only find photos on the device only, when it is fast. The S-pen works well with the apps I use for photo editing. Battery life is okay. Hate the Samsung USB/power socket, but I have sourced spare cables and an OTG cable to transfer pictures from my camera. This tablets compliments my Samsung GS3 phone.
I had a spare 32GB card so have added to the 16gb it comes with. The screen is fine for my purpose.
Overall I am happy with this tablet.

Reply by Konrad c from UK on 1st May 2014
Update. I have managed to source a couple of OTG cables from eBay and an USB from a pound shop very cheaply. I had to get these due to Samsung's unique socket interface. On the subject of using OTG with a card reader or other gadgets, make sure the tablet is not in Power saving mode. There will not be enough power to access what is using the OTG cable, and you will get a message about 'high power'. Once Power saving is turned off, access and file swap are very fast. Remember this if you have issues. This may also effect the Tab too. This issue does not seem to be mentioned much on the web forums. I still have not found a way to fix the gallery to only find photos on the device only. has to be set manually every session. Someone may know the trick.

Reply by Konrad c from UK on 28th Dec 2014
After updating my SG3 phone (see my review on Samsung Galaxy S3), I decide to update the tablet to 4.4 KitKat. It went smoothly and I noticed that the tablet is more responsive and the battery life seems better. The screen colour is not overdone compared to the phone. Similar graphic updates.
One minor issue is the task bar has been changed. Instead of a single task bar along the bottom of the screen, there is now another at the top. The status and alerts are now located in the top task bar leaving the buttons at the centre of the bottom task bar. Worse still is the 4th button which was set as screen capture, has gone. There is a way of doing screen capture with the stylus. The top status bar is not always there so the screen real estate is the same as before.
One issue when doing the update, was that I also updated to Kies3, and an invasive program called Omiga-plus sneaked during the download, from the official Samsung site! With a lot of hacking and the playstation and xbox going down, I am not surprised. I removed the problem (regedit & other things).
Kies3 is needed with the updates to 4.3 and higher.
The tablet has show no issues so far on KitKat.

Reviewed by Rob from UK on 2nd Jan 2013
I bought one for my partner,an she loves it. Very smooth to use. I paid 318 in Tesco and if you Google 'Samsung Cash Back',you get 50 back too. Bargain !!!!

Reviewed by obagab from UK on 15th Nov 2012
I have owned this tablet for 4 weeks now, after selling my ipad 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 beats the ipad 3 in every category. I will never buy an apple product again! The Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 ticks every box and deserves nothing short of 5 stars.

Reviewed by Sam Clemens from UK on 4th Oct 2012
I am sure you can Google reviews of this to your heart's content. To me this tablet is as good as the Apple offering and has the major major advantage of memory expandability and I'm using a 64GB msd card with it. Overpriced? What rubbish, and if the reviewer had actually bothered to read the specs they would see for starters it has double the RAM of the Tab 2 10.1, and the Note is quad core and the Tab 2 is dual core. Duh! Soon to be updated to Jelly Bean. I wholeheartedly recommend this to you - I love it!

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