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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 review

 Review: February 2011  
 

Last updated October 2012

Rating:

In a nutshell: The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the best Android tablet we've seen and a close rival to the Apple iPad 2.

Best buy: Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 16GB from Amazon Marketplace UK (£198.77)

 

There are plenty of Android tablets in the shops. But the problem has been that they tended to stay there. Not many people have been buying them. One of the problems has perhaps been the overwhelming and confusing choice. Another reason has been that many of the tablets have had much smaller screens than Apple's iPad, making them less like tablets and more like oversized phones. For both of these reasons, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 seems like a good iPad alternative, as it uses technology already familiar to owners of phones like the Samsung Galaxy S3, and it has a 10 inch screen, like the iPad.

The Galaxy Tab 10.1 was launched last year (2011), so this review is being written with hindsight. But hindsight is always a good thing. One thing we know now is that the Tab 10.1 has become the top selling Android tablet in the UK since its launch, and that's always a reassuring fact for potential buyers.

The Tab 10.1 is physically about the same size as the iPad 2. It's slightly more elongated, and ever so slightly thinner, making it unbelievably thin to hold. It's a little lighter in weight too, which is no bad thing. The screen has a higher resolution than the iPad 2 - at 1280 x 800 pixels it's a match for many laptops.

Apart from the big 10 inch screen, the Tab 10.1 has several advantages over the original Galaxy Tab 7. It uses a newer version of the Android operating system - Honeycomb 3.1, which has been designed specifically for tablets. Samsung have customised this with their Touch Wiz 4.0 user interface, and there are various Hubs too, which give easy access to various media content. The home screen can be customised so you can view content like email, facebook updates, weather forecasts, etc directly from the home page.

All kinds of messaging are integrated in the tablet - email, social media, instant messaging, etc. The Social Hub brings these together seamlessly, and you can also use it to view web feeds.

The Tab has a superb web browser, with very fast internet access via 3G HSPA or Wi-Fi. One of the benefits of the Tab over the iPad is that it supports Adobe Flash content in the web browser.

The Tab is brilliant for media. With the 10 inch screen you can properly enjoy watching video, whether they're youtube clips streamed over the internet or feature-length HD movies. And sound quality from the stereo speakers with 3D surround effect is excellent too. The Music Hub gives you an easy way to access new music. Google Music enables cloud-based music storage.

The Android Market is approaching the breadth and depth of Apple's App Store, and in fact products like Google Maps (with navigation), Google Calendar, Google Talk video chat and Skype make the Tab into a very powerful device indeed. We must admit though that the iPad is still the app leader.

Moving now from software to hardware, the Galaxy Tab delivers in spades. Powered by a dual-core 1GHz processor, with a full 1GB of RAM and up to 64GB of memory, the Tab 10.1 is the most powerful tablet we've reviewed so far. It's got the best screen too. The rear camera has 3 megapixels and HD video recording, but we're really not fussed by the rear camera on a tablet. The front camera is more useful, as it can be used for video chat, and it does its job well. We must just mention that the build quality of the device is impeccable.

Battery life is very good for a tablet, with the 7,000mAh battery being nearly twice the size of the battery in the old Galaxy Tab 7, and slightly larger than the iPad 2's. It should last for a full working day with heavy use.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is easily the best Android tablet we've seen so far. In many ways it matches or outclasses the iPad 2, and the price is the same. Yet the iPad family continues to outsell Android tablets, and that's mainly because of Apple's superiority on the "soft" side, i.e. availability of apps and media. But times are changing and the Android camp is getting stronger and stronger in this respect all the time. Combine this trend with the sheer brilliance of the hardware, and the Tab 10.1 could be a great buy for those brave enough to be a little different.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 features include:

  • Operating system: Android Honeycomb 3.1
  • Display: 10.0 inch TFT capacitive touchscreen with 1280 x 800 pixels, 16 million colours
  • Swype-enabled virtual QWERTY keyboard
  • 3 megapixel camera with autofocus and flash
  • HD video recording
  • Secondary 2 megapixel camera for video calling
  • Music player / media player
  • Messaging: SMS, MMS, instant messaging (Google Talk), email
  • aGPS with Google Maps
  • Internet: Web browser with Flash 10.1 support, BBC iPlayer, YouTube
  • Speakerphone
  • Voice recognition
  • Polaris Office document editor, PenMemo, World Clock, Calculator, Task Manager
  • Mobile Printing
  • Offline flight mode
  • Processor: 1GHz dual-core processor
  • Memory: 16GB, 32GB or 64GB / 1GB RAM
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi (802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth, TV Output (HDMI, DLNA), 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Quadband 3G (850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100MHz), HSDPA 7.2 Mbps / HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
  • Size: 257 x 175 x 8.6 mm
  • Weight: 565g
  • Battery: 7000 mAh Lithium Ion

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 user reviews

Love this product? Hate it? Please share your experiences to help other people choose the product that's best for them. Please do not review this product if you have not used it. This is a review site, not a forum, so please don't just ask questions. Please do not use swear words or offensive language, and please, no advertising!

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Average rating from 5 reviews:

Reviewed by Mel from walWales on 10th Sep 2013
Much better than my mates ipad. Have the smaller version for my sons and they were so impressive I replaced my laptop with one of these. Easy to use with a great battery life.
Rating:

Reviewed by Ben from UK on 22nd Jul 2012
I made the mistake of believing all these tech review sites when they say these android tablets are as good or better than an ipad.

The claim that the number of apps isn't far behind the ipad is just plain wrong.

I bought this tablet & outside of the fact that you can have live widgets & customisable home screens - this thing isn't a patch on an ipad. I rapidly swapped to an ipad & the difference is like chalk & cheese.

The amount of apps available for ipad is staggering compared with android. Couple that with the fact that you'll probably only see an update to the next version of android months after Google have released another version (ICS is still not widespread among these devices & they already released JB)...

People slate the ipad for being an app launcher but without the apps (ie software) what is a tablet? - It's nothing more than a web browser & ereader. Everything it does is using apps (even the built in facebook etc).

& ALL the quality apps come to iOS months even years before they come to android. Sky Go is a prime example. I've had that on my iphone for years & there's still only a handful of android devices supported by Sky & woe betide anyone who dares to upgrade beyond Gingerbread - you'll lose the app. - This doesn't happen with iOS - you can update your device (on the day of release)& not lose a single app.

So unless you're a rabid android fanboy - please steer clear of android tablets & save yourself the heartache.. I've had both this & an ipad & the ipad is years ahead of this expensive paperweight.
Rating:

Reviewed by Amy from England on 24th Apr 2012
Best samsung galaxy bought it for my bday better than ipad 2 belive me! Better its battery lasts up to 16 hours and more i have 16GB its better than ipad 2
Rating:

Reviewed by spud from Kent, England on 4th Apr 2012
had this for month now and what a lovely bit of kit, perfect size screen for browsing text heavy sites and games look awesome, very vivid and detailed. even on lowest setting its plenty bright enough. can easily get two days from battery with screen brightness low and wifi turned off. i have the 3g version and im impressed how i manage to get a strong signal even in areas where my mobile phone struggles on one bar. multimedia dock is a very useful accessory as u can use it whilst it charges. overall very pleased its easily on a par with Ipad if not better in my opinion. well done Samsung
Rating:

Reviewed by kasim from UK on 27th Mar 2012
Best Tab i have ever used. So customizable, great weight. very slim, hd recording in 720p, flash autofocus. It amazing. The speed is very nippy. in my opinion far superior to an ipad as my brother owns the ipad 2. Much more customixable, the resolution is fasntastic, the app variety is excellent, Many HD games. The battery easily last a whole day with life to spare. Best purchase i ever made
Rating:

 
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