Philippine mobile services provider Smart Communications has introduced the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 with a Smart Bro FlexiSurf postpaid plan. The price starts at PHP 1,299 per month with a Pocket WiFi Plan 999 or SIM Plan 999.
We found Samsung’s 2011 Galaxy Note an odd device: it was unwieldy for everyday use as a phone thanks to its 5.3in. screen, and its clever S Pen input showed promise but didn’t quite deliver enough.
The 10.1in. Galaxy Note 10.1 also supports stylus input, and sits in direct competition with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 devices — although it’s more expensive. The Wi-Fi only Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 currently sells for £264 (ex. VAT) SIM-free, while the Wi-Fi and 3G version costs £349 (ex. VAT). The equivalent Galaxy Note 10.1 models cost £335 and £420 (ex. VAT) respectively.
The Galaxy Note 10.1 is very similar in appearance to the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1. The distinctive pair of speaker grilles on the front are a trademark, and their location is welcome since it means you can’t accidently cover them with your hands.
review sample’s white screen bezel (there’s also a grey version) has silver (dark grey on the other version) edging that extends into the back to frame the 5-megapixel rear camera. The majority of the backplate is white (or grey), very shiny and probably prone to scratching — although it doesn’t attract fingerprints. It flexes a little when pressed, but not enough to cause real concern.
The general look and feel doesn’t match the quality of the third-generation iPad or Asus Transformer Pad Infinity, for example, although it’s superior to that of low-end tablets. Considering the price of the Galaxy Note 10.1, we expect better.
The 10.1in. screen delivers good viewing angles and is bright enough, but the resolution, at 1,280 by 800 pixels or 149 pixels per inch (ppi), is disappointing. Asus manages 1,920 by 1,200 (224ppi) on its Transformer Pad Infinity, while Apple delivers 2,048 by 1,536 pixels in a 9.7in. screen (264ppi) on the third-generation iPad. Samsung’s flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S III, delivers a similar resolution — 1,280 by 720 pixels — in a much smaller 4.8in. screen, giving more than double pixel the density at 306ppi (but not as high as the iPhone 5’s 326ppi — 640 by 1,136 pixels in a 4in. screen).
The Galaxy Note 10.1 weighs 597g for the Wi-Fi only version and 600g for the Wi-Fi+3G option; it’s a shade heavier than the Galaxy Tab 2 10.1 and significantly lighter than the latest iPad, which weighs 652g (Wi-Fi) or 662g (Wi-Fi+3G).
The Galaxy Note 10.1 runs on a 1.4GHz quad-core Exynos 4410 processor supported by 2GB of RAM — this is the first time we’ve seen more than 1GB of RAM in any tablet or smartphone. Dual-band (802.11a/b/g/n) Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 are integrated as standard, and you can have 3G mobile broadband as an option. There is 16GB of internal storage, of which 11.66GB was free on our review sample. A microSD slot lets you add more storage capacity.
Samsung uses a proprietary port for battery charging and PC connection, which is irritating. There’s no Micro-USB port, so you really don’t want to mislay that Samsung cable.
standard QWERTY keyboard
Samsung has included a number of interface tweaks. The keyboard, for example, comes in three versions, which you switch between by pinching inwards to call up a trio of thumbnails.
The standard QWERTY keyboard offers a separate number row and a useful button that intuitively changes between ‘.com’ and ‘www.’. The floating keyboard is smaller, while the split keyboard is ideal for use when holding the device and tapping with your thumbs in landscape mode.
Performance & battery life
Battery life was good. The 7,000mAh Lithium Ion cell didn’t perform outrageously better or worse than the average and you ought to get between eight and nine hours from it depending on how hard you push. During our testing period we never felt it was powering down faster than we’d expect.
PROS[list style=”unordered” type=”type3″] Responsive S Pen stylus
Nice split-screen function
The only 10.1in. tablet with pen input
CONS[list style=”unordered” type=”type3″] Proprietary charge/PC connector
No Micro-USB port
No HDMI port
Handwriting recognition could be supported more widely
Slightly flimsy build