Event Coverage

Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Reworked and Revitalized

By Wong Casandra - 6 Aug 2012

The New Galaxy Note 10.1: On the Hardware Side of Things

Hands-on: Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, Reworked and Revitalized

We first got our hands on the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 earlier in February this year at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and it's been a long six-month wait since with no launch details announced for the tablet. At a press event in US in April, we finally got some answers so as to why the device was delayed: a Samsung spokesperson revealed that the product would be revised, in both hardware and software. But that's all they had to tease us with unfortunately - no launch date or specific details were given.

A month later in May, leaked photos and information gave us more details on what would be newly included on the revised Galaxy Note 10.1, including a S-Pen, a dedicated S-Pen slot and a more powerful quad-core Exynos processor. Photos also showed some slight design changes, a welcoming addition since it previously looked too much like the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1

So what exactly is new on the revitalized Galaxy Note 10.1? The above-mentioned features touch just a tip of the iceberg. Hardware improvements aside, the real meat is in its enhanced software. Of course, the S Pen and S Note technologies are likewise featured heavily on the reworked device, albeit with new features like the side-by-side multitasking 'Multiscreen' function, new S Note templates and productivity tools like Shape Match, Formula Match and Text Recognition. To add on, these are just some of the key differentiations from its Galaxy Note smartphone sibling, of which the S Note technology first made its debut. The new tablet will also feature access to the Samsung Learning Hub service, which will include educational content like eTextbooks, video lectures and relevant software from its recently introduced suite of edu-tainment applications. Aside from sharing the same quad-core Exynos processor as its popular Galaxy S III cousin, it will also come with features like Pop-up Play, All Share Play and Smart Stay, but more on those later on.

It is important to note that Samsung wants us to remember that the key proposition behind the new Galaxy Note 10.1 remains the same, that is to "simplify idea capture, information access, and multi-tasking". Without further ado, let's take a quick look at its improvements and what it has to offer:

The old unreleased Galaxy Note 10.1(left) vs. the new version (right) that will retail in the channels really soon.

 Important Features

Highlights of unreleasedSamsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (MWC) / Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (New)
Operating System
  • Google Android 4.0
  • Google Android 4.0
  • 1.4 GHz Dual-Core Processor
  • 1.4 GHz Quad-Core Processor
  • 1GB RAM / 8/16/32GB Internal memory
  • MicroSD (up to 32GB)
  • 2GB RAM / 8/16/32GB Internal memory
  • microSD (up to 64GB)
  • 10.1-inch WXGA (1280x800) PLS TFT screen
  • 10.1-inch WXGA (1280x800) LCD screen
  • 3MP rear-camera
  • 2MP front camera
  • 5MP rear-camera
  • 1.9MP front camera
  • 7000 mAh
  • 7000 mAh 
Dimensions / Weight 
  • 256.7 x 175.3 x 8.9 mm
  • 583g
  • 262 x 180 x 8.9 mm
  • 600g (3G), 597g (WiFi)


On the Hardware Side of Things

 The new Galaxy Note 10.1 gets a slight facelift, with speaker grilles featured more prominently in the front. Edges still remain rounded but noticeably, the  metallic trimming around the device has been slightly thickened.

Important ports and buttons are tucked at the top, just like how they are on the older Galaxy Note 10.1 and Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. Like its predecessors,the MicroSD and SIM card slots both come with small protective hatches that are easy to remove. Noticeably, there's the addition of infrared connectivity.  

A single charging port sits at the bottom of the device. But that's not the only thing there though...

Tucked out of sight at the bottom to the extreme right, the S Pen slot is almost indiscernible when seen from the top. We had no problems taking the S Pen out of its hiding place but we did face some difficulties in putting it back. The white version will come with a white pen instead of a black one; during the hands-on session, the black stylus was used to show the difference between the two shades of colors available.

The button on the S Pen comes with two main functions - one, users can tap the screen twice while pressing the S Pen button for quick S Note access and two, users can screencap while long-pressing the button on your desired page/home screen.

The new Galaxy Note 10.1 gets a slight bump in the camera department, up from 3-megapixel to a 5-megapixel sensor for its rear camera. The front-facing camera gets upped to 1.9-megapixel from 0.31-megapixel (VGA).

Of course, we had to reserve the obligatory iPad comparison shots towards the end. Pictured on the right is the new iPad with the Retina display. Off the bat, the Galaxy Note 10.1 loses out in screen resolution but emerges on top in other aspects. For one, it is significantly lighter (600g) than its Apple counterpart (652g) due to the former's predominantly plastic body. It is also slightly shorter but wider than the new iPad.

It is hard to see from these shots but the Galaxy Note 10.1 is just a tad thinner (8.9 mm) than the new iPad (9.4 mm).

There aren't any major physical changes made to the Galaxy Note 10.1, aside from a slightly larger and heavier body and the inclusion of an IR emitter/receiver and a S Pen slot. These are thankfully subtly hidden on the tablet so we have no complaints here. As mentioned earlier, the device feels light in our hands due to its predominantly plastic body. As much as we would have preferred a sturdier and more protective outer shell, the added weight would have been a turn-off for Galaxy Note 10.1's targeted user group. Otherwise, the handling experience was pretty positive. On the other hand, we observed that while the glossy back cover has been retained on the remodeled Galaxy Note 10.1, it thankfully doesn't showcase fingerprint marks as prominently as its black counterpart did at MWC. 

For those who like some variety in their choices, they will be pleased to hear that the the Galaxy Note 10.1 will be coming in two shades of colors, Black and White. We only managed to get our hands on the white version, but we have been told that the new black variant will be of a lighter shade than the one shown at MWC.

Of course, the evaluation of a gadget shouldn't be based on its physique and hardware specs alone; the direction of the company's implementation, the user experience and specialized software are important factors to look at as well. What are you waiting for? Click on the next page to find out!

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