When it comes to mobile devices, Samsung has until now been focusing more on smartphones and phablets rather than on tablets. The disappointing updates to the 7in Galaxy Tab (Galaxy Tab 2, Galaxy Tab 3) and the Galaxy Tab 10.1 (Tab 2 and Tab 3) are in stark contrast with the ambitions displayed by Google and its Nexus range.
But things are changing if the new Galaxy Note 10.1 tablet, which will go on sale in the fourth quarter of the year, is anything to go by.
I briefly played with the device yesterday and has been overall been impressed by it. As for the Galaxy Note 3 which was also announced yesterday, the Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 version features a soft and textured-touch back cover with what Samsung calls a “delicate” stitching. Like Marmite, it is likely that it will divide opinions.
But it is refreshing to see that manufacturers are moving away from traditional materials (metal, plastic) towards alternative ones; Motorola’s wooden case for the Moto X being probably the most interesting example to date.
As for the hardware that powers the Galaxy Note 10.1, it is quite similar to the Galaxy Note 3, a big strategic change that lifts it even above the Google Nexus 10 tablet to become the most powerful tablet on the market.
We suspect that the LTE version is powered by the quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon MSM8974AB, one which is a minor update on the current model, with a slightly higher CPU (2.3GHz), GPU, DDR and DSP speeds. The 3G/Wi-Fi model will run, what we expect to be the Exynos 5420, an octo-core system-on-chip clocked at 1.9GHz.
The rest of the feature is equally impressive. 3GB of RAM (the first tablet to do so), 10.1in display with a 2,560 x 1,600 pixel resolution, 32GB of onboard storage, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, the new S Pen a card reader, an 8-megapixel rear camera and a bevy of optimized applications (Dropbox, NYT, MarketWatch, Bloomberg etc).
Samsung managed somehow to make the tablet thinner (7.9mm) and lighter (535g) than the previous generation with a massive 8,220mAh battery.