Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition: design and build
It shares a very similar design with the Galaxy Note 3, a phablet not universally praised for its desirable look and feel. Framing the tablet is a grooved metal band into which are set the volume & power buttons, stereo speakers, plus microSD and microUSB ports.
On the rear is a plastic cover with a leather-like texture and faux stitching around the edges. We think it cheapens the device, making it look dated and a little daft.
It is, however, a big update to the original Note 10.1. The screen has been upgraded to an excellent 2560x1600 IPS panel surrounded by slim bezels and the now standard three button controls. Yet, it weighs just 540g and is 8mm thick.
Of course, the main thing that distinguishes the Note from the Galaxy Tab 3 is the inclusion of the S-Pen (essentially an active stylus) and the accompanying software.
The S-Pen slots neatly into the metal band, and turns the Note on when you remove it. An Air Command launcher lets you choose between various tasks, including annotating a screenshot and drawing a window where you can run another app.
The S-Pen is a lot of fun for doodling or annotating notes. Effective palm cancellation means you can rest your hand on the screen while you do so. How useful you’ll find the stylus is questionable, but if you really want a stylus this is the one to buy.
Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition: performance
As with the Galaxy Note 3, the 10.1’s internals are impressive. There’s an octo-core Exynos 5 processor (although only 4 cores are ever used at one time), and 3GB of RAM.
The result is a speedy tablet that loads and runs apps quickly. We did see a few examples of lag in the interface, but on the whole it’s very nice to use.
Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition: software and cameras
The Touchwiz interface that Samsung layers on top of Android 4.3, still feels overly complicated when compared to the vanilla Android you get on the Nexus 10, but it does allow Samsung to promote its various services.
These include the Samsung Hub through which you can purchase various media, although the Google Play Store is also here. There are also plenty of pre-loaded apps from calendars to a magazine style news feed.
The Note 10.1’s cameras are very good, capturing impressive images and the camera app is replete with a raft of fun shooting modes.
Perhaps best of all, battery life is brilliant at nearly nine and a half hours of video playback.
Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 Edition: Verdict
Aside from the Touchwiz interface and fake stitching, the Note 10.1 is a very good tablet. It doesn’t feel as premium, nor look as classy as the iPad Air. The other problem is that the Note is £50 more expensive than the equivalent iPad Air, but the S-Pen is a genuine benefit for those who want it.