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Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) review: is it still worth buying in 2015?

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In our Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) review, we’re looking back at Samsung’s premier 10-inch tablet to see if this is still the best Android tablet choice in 2015. Examining the display, design, and ever-important battery life, here’s our thoughts on the Galaxy Note 10.1

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)


  • Fantastic display
  • Exciting stylus features
  • Brilliant battery life


  • Heavy to hold for prolonged periods
  • Takes a long time to charge
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014)
Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014): All deals

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) release date and price

The Galaxy Note 10.1 price is currently set at 499 USD from the Samsung website, but you should be able to find it cheaper from third parties by now, given that the original Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) release date was October 2013.

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The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) and S Pen stylus. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) design and build quality

The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) is the middle child in Note tablet series, sitting between the 8.0-inch version, and huge Note Pro 12.2 variant. And, for our money, it’s the best all-rounder, striking the right balance between size and price.  

To anybody who has handled the Galaxy Note 3 phablet, the design of the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) will be immediately familiar. It houses the same textured plastic rear, complete with a stitch-effect trim, and chrome-effect edges.

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The Note 10.1 looks like an oversized Galaxy Note 3. / © ANDROIDPIT

In 2015, and in light of some of the more recent Sony Tablets, the Note 10.1 (2014) isn’t exactly “premium” -- the plastic chrome-effect packaging feels particularly tacky these days. But it is functional, and solidly built.

Not immediately striking, the Note 10.1 has something of a muted quality about it. It’s unassuming, which assured that it never looked out of place no matter where I took it. This is interesting considering that it was visually quite different from other tablets when it was first released back at the end of 2013.

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Notice the "stitching" effect on the tablet's rear. The S Pen stylus can be seen at the top left of the device. / © ANDROIDPIT

The stylus is tucked away nicely around the back-right side of the device when holding it in landscape (a convenient placement), and the power and volume buttons appear on the top left. Given what’s housed inside, at 7.9mm the Note 10.1 is remarkably thin, even if it can’t compete with Sony’s modern tablets (like the Xperia Z4 Tablet).

Though it’s housed in plastic rather than metal, the Note 10.1 is quite a weighty device and might prove too heavy for a nighttime read or when holding in one hand for long periods of time (if you’re typing, for example). The weight won’t surprise you, but you will need to rest your arms after using it for extended periods.

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The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) is heavy and sometimes best left on a flat surface. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) display

The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) display is gorgeous. Sharp as a tiger cub tooth, and richly detailed, the 2560 x 1600 resolution LCD display also bears luscious colors (though the general hue is a slightly warm magenta, not brilliant white).

Samsung has developed just the right size bezels to make sure the screen size is well optimized, without fear of accidentally tapping the screen, and the horizontal viewing angles are superb, perfect for watching family movies on the couch. You’ll be hard pressed to find a screen as tasty on a 10.1-inch tablet.

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The Note 10.1 truly has a gorgeous display. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) special features

One of the interesting features of the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) is its S Pen stylus and how it integrates with the Air command menu. This unique menu, accessed by holding the stylus above the screen and pressing its side button, offers some interesting possibilities which aren’t available outside of Samsung devices.

Action Memo in particular is an outstanding feature. While it’s essentially a note-taking app, the fact that you can make your notes “actionable” in some way makes it endlessly usable (and fun, even).

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Action Memo is a really smart feature. / © ANDROIDPIT

If you handwrite somebody’s phone number using Action Memo, for example, you can then instantly call or save that number. You can also email your handwritten notes, or jot down a phrase and quickly search for it online. It’s fantastic and a definite reason to be interested in the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014).

While we’re on the subject of handwriting, the text recognition is instantly impressive and almost as instantly disappointing. I was surprised to find single words recognized despite my scribblings, but it was never 100 percent accurate, and replacing words is just too slow to make this a viable option for writing anything more than a short memo. 

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The Air command menu is unique to Samsung. / © ANDROIDPIT

The Air command menu was further improved upon with the Galaxy Note 4, and this version of the software on the 10.1 houses some older features like S Finder, but it’s still useful. Using the Pen window to quickly draw a small box, and then open a full app in that space you just created, is seriously cool.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) software

The Note 10.1 comes running Android 4.3, upgradable to Android 4.4.2 currently. A leaked Samsung document which appeared last year suggested it might receive the Lollipop update in April 2015, but there’s still no sign of that just yet.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is packed with Samsung apps such as S Planner, Samsung Hub, S Note and S Health, as well as ChatOn and My Magazine. There are plenty of alternatives to My Magazine and though it was a notable feature at the time, like most of these digital magazines were (and still are, to some degree), it’s forgettable, and hasn’t grown on us since its introduction.

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Samsung's screen write feature does what you would expect. / © ANDROIDPIT

The manufacturer tradition of pre-installing apps means you usually boot up a device and are bombarded by services which you don’t need or want, and this is true of the Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014). Ignore them and install something better.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) performance

The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) specs ensure it's a performance powerhouse. Featuring an octa-core Snadragon 800 processor, the Note 10.1 is incredibly fast, with no slowdowns to speak of, and apps open and close in a flash. This Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) review, more than any other I have written, has made me question whether processing technology needs to improve as rapidly as it does, or whether this is more sales/marketing driven (though I think I already know the answer).

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Even with multiple apps open at once, the Note 10.1 (2014) is a strong performer. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) camera

Samsung has produced a lovely camera on the Note 10.1 which still holds up today. Truthfully, tablet camera technology hasn’t changed a great deal in the past year, nevertheless the Note 10.1 is capable of producing some great snaps with its 8 MP rear camera, and we’re interested to see what Samsung comes up with next. Check out some of the images below.

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Photos taken with the Galaxy Note 10.1 are pretty true-to-life. / © ANDROIDPIT
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The color reproduction is great, even if the resolution is low. / © ANDROIDPIT
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This picture looks a fraction washed out, and could benefit from slightly more saturation. / © ANDROIDPIT
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A picture taken with the front-facing camera. / © ANDROIDPIT
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An indoor shot shows how the Note 10.1 (2014) handles lighting contrasts. / © ANDROIDPIT
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An empty street, busy with cars, leads up to a tower. / © ANDROIDPIT

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) battery

The battery life on the Note 10.1 is a real standout feature. During my time with device, and even with brightness whacked up, it had an abundance of stamina. I read a lot of Kindle books and watched a lot of TV, but I never had to think about the battery running low (maybe we’re just used to charging devices every day now).

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Even though it powers such a brilliant display, the Note 10.1 (2014) battery life is still excellent. / © ANDROIDPIT

Packing a 8220 mAh battery, the Note 10.1 is said to be able to provide somewhere between 100 and 200 hours of music playback, depending on which source you believe. While I can’t attest to that, I can say that it will last days on a single charge, even when watching movies.

It must be noted, however, that it takes a long time to charge. Before my first in depth test I charged it to full capacity, and it took more than four hours. It was plugged into the power outlet, and the tank wasn’t empty. This is definitely a device which could really benefit from some of the quick charge features that are now housed on later Samsung devices.

Final verdict

The Galaxy note 10.1 has just been a pleasure to use from start to finish. It looks, beautiful, it sounds great, it can hold plenty juice, and it never stutters. How does it compare to tablets in 2015? Sony’s new hardware looks cooler, and devices like the Galaxy S6 show restraint in prepackaged apps and features which would have been welcomed on the Galaxy Note 10.1.

With all of that said, though, the Galaxy Note 10.1 still stands out as an extremely usable tablet, and I still don’t see a tablet worth upgrading to, even all this time later. Huber Joly, CEO of Best Buy said that tablet were “crashing” because people don’t realize that they must upgrade them every two years. With a tablet like the Galaxy Note 10.1, I’m happily in the camp of people who don’t see it as a necessity. It was a beast then, and it’s still a beast now.

The Galaxy Note 10.1 (2014) was a real triumph for Samsung, and I hope it continues to develop tablets as strong as this in the future: it still remains one of the best Android tablets in the world.

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Scott Adam Gordon

Scott Adam Gordon

Originally from the UK, Scott graduated in Popular Music Studies at Newcastle University and attributes much of his success there to his beloved Samsung Galaxy S2. His current aim is to write cool things about Android. And he loves it.

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  • 1
    Jill Ford Dec 7, 2016 Link to comment

    Recommend NOT buying Samsung tablets as they will not recognise warranties out of the region purchased.
    I had massive problems with Samsung Note 10 , from Wifi not connecting to finally the screen went blank. Contacted Samsung whose advice didnt solve the problem. As I had bought it in New Zealand and am now in UK. I was told I would have to courier it back to NZ (at my expense). This was going to be expensive, so after going online (and discovering this was a common problem - anotehr reason not to buy the product) I tried to fix it myself which meant opening the back. That didnt work so a friend took it back to NZ, where I was then told that because I had opened the back they wouldnt mend it under warranty.

  • Weanu Haske 1
    Weanu Haske Jun 11, 2016 Link to comment

    Hi. I have note 4 and love the s pen..but Why samsung leaving this market..FHD tablet with s pen. Last year 2015 the tab A with s pen has poor display. ..this looking at huawei m2 mediapad...but the pen is lousy..not a better option . What should I do..buying galaxy note 10.1 version 2014 ?

  • 1
    R N Mar 18, 2016 Link to comment

    On wifi it it loads a lot faster than iPad air. Is more versatile to set up to your likings. Is a bit laggy, but running NOVA launcher.....prefer it over iPad. But iPad is simpler to use for simple people.

  • 1
    Preston Mitchell Jan 19, 2016 Link to comment

    The Note 10.1 ed. 2014 remains the WORLD'S BEST Tablet in 2016...especially after the v5.1.1 Update.
    Yesterday (01/18/2016), I received my THIRD new Note 10.1 ed. 2014 32 GB (for only $325 on Ebay).
    After initial set-up, I was pleasantly surprised by the update to Android version 5.1.1. Wow, that update changed the whole game for this Note tablet by unleashing its full potential.
    I ABSOLUTELY COULD NOT BUY A BETTER TABLET ANYWHERE, especially not a new one for $325.
    The only 'con' is that the Note 10.1 ed. 2014 has only 3 GB of RAM (whereas the Note 5 smartphone has 4 GB of RAM). BUT 3 GB of RAM still rocks.

  • Yossi Cohen 1
    Yossi Cohen Jan 12, 2016 Link to comment

    This is stupid... good performance???
    yeah opening apps might be kidna fast but everything else is very disappointing.
    The scrolling is very laggy and stuttery.
    the cpu and gpu has hard time with android 4.4 and the 2k display.
    this tablet must get lollipop(i mean its a freaking high end tablet!) to be saved and be smooth.
    my brother has it so i have experience with this device.

    • 1
      Preston Mitchell Jan 19, 2016 Link to comment

      @ Yossi Cohen -- Your opinion is worthless...because Samsung released Lollipop v5.1.1 for the Note 10.1 ed. 2014.
      I know because v5.1.1 is installed on my 3 USA WiFi-only Note tablets. AND, WOW, v5.1.1 unleashes the full potential of the Note 10.1 2014. This tablet rocks now...and I just bought my third NEW Note tablet on eBay for only $325. Tell me what better Tablet can be bought new for that price. You are an idiot.

  • 1
    Samer Kurdi Dec 14, 2015 Link to comment

    Can someone explain to me why there was no new Galaxy Note tablet in 2015? I have the Note 10.1 2014 edition, and I've been in the market for a new note tablet for A YEAR, waiting for Samsung to just TAKE MY MONEY, but .... nothing.
    I want Samsung's best Amoled screen with a 4k resolution (3840 pixels × 2160) minimum (even higher= even better), a kickass battery that lasts for a very long time compared to the 2014 model and charges a lot more quickly. Also, let be be lighter and thinner than the 2014 model, 128 GIG internal storage minimum and support for 128 GIG SD card. And Samsung's best and fastest quad core processor to date etc. 10.1 inches is about the highest I can tolerate for a tablet, please no bigger. Just hand it over Samsung and take my money what is wrong with you guys! It just seems like the Note/Stylus concept is in retreat, while they focus on god knows what.

  • 1
    Einar Gregorios Oct 23, 2015 Link to comment

    A better camera, nfc support, lighter and a very much faster charge time(the present one drives me insane).. Still, I'm super happy with my note 2014 edition ..

  • Andrew G 1
    Andrew G Jul 10, 2015 Link to comment

    I have to agree that the Note 10.1 2014 is great. I've had it for a year. I bought it for taking notes in school and I haven't looked back. 3 GB of memory is really important. This tablet has almost entirely replaced my laptop.

    I don't disagree about the weight or the charging, but you can buy a 22 or 23 AWG charging cable on Amazon for not much money and you'll see a huge improvement; and the weight could be worse, especially for when the tablet came out. The screen - well, I like the screen, but it's no AMOLED screen. That, and perhaps an updated processor, is why I am really keen to see Samsung come out with an updated Note tablet (beyond the Tab A-series, which are budget devices).

    I have the wi-fi version with the Exynos processor, and while it's sufficient, it's not amazing, especially with all the multitasking functions. Latency with handwriting could improve also. The Snapdragon 800 version is a little faster, but not much. Also, the S-Pen itself could be more precise, and I wish Samsung would update the S-Pen with Eraser product that it made for the original Note 10.1. (Just as a side note, I have noticed that the eraser on the aforementioned pen works in mysterious places, like when you're marking up a presentation in PowerPoint. Isn't that something?)

    My biggest gripe about the tablet is actually that it can't run real Windows applications, like full Excel. Which is why I may have to go Surface 3 for my next tablet. It'll do basically everything the Note 10.1 2014 can do, but with full Windows. I like Android a lot, but it's not a serious OS for productivity.

  • 7
    Ruturaj Hagawane Jun 1, 2015 Link to comment

    Snapdragon 800 (which is present in 4g lte model) is quad core not octa core, and wifi/3g model has octa core exynos cpu.

  • 2
    Bellanca May 30, 2015 Link to comment

    I've been using the original galaxy note 10.1 from 2013, and I'm still pretty happy with it, but I was hoping for a 2015 10 inch tablet because I'm looking to possibly upgrade.

    My complaints from the original 2013 note:
    1) low screen resolution.
    2) very slow charging, and odd non standard charging cord.
    3) cheap plastic chassis that samsung insists on using. (But it will live in a case, so not a deal breaker)

    The 2014 model fixes #1, and is a definite improvement on charging complaints.

    I bought an ipad air 2, and minus my 3 complaints, my 2.5 year old galaxy note is competitive with the brand new ipad air 2. I find myself constantly frustrated by the ipads lack of features in comparison, and lack of customizability. I'm just ready for a tablet that has a screen more comparable to my ipad.

    Andrew G

  • 2
    Roger Takacs May 9, 2015 Link to comment

    I've been using the 2014 10.1 for over a year now. Upgrading has not entered my mind. There are a few apps that become burners, make sure you force stop Play Newsstand if you read anything or download anything in the app. There's a few games that really drive the battery down as well, but those games do the same on my phone. I liked this panel so much I bought a Note 4 to share S Notes between devices.

    Andrew G

  • 1
    John Bunker May 9, 2015 Link to comment

    I have the first 10.1. Bought it late (reduced price) and am still running jelly bean. Still a great tablet and though I have been tempted to get a 2014, I am trying to hold out for a 2015 version.
    Its kind of a drag to get it late and you get stuck while everyone else around you is advancing.
    Love s-pen. It is what sold me on it in the first place. I like handwriting my notes and the other features of the pen (circling text to copy to the clipboard and being able to paste it in s-note app, then saving as PDF).

    Hoping they come out with a new version. If they dont, I may resolve to get the 2014.

  • 3
    Jaques Connard May 9, 2015 Link to comment

    I've had mine for over a year. The SPen is what makes this the tablet for me. My biggest question now is... will Samsung update the software to Android 5.0.1 or higher?

    Andrew G

  • 2
    Dan Farrell May 8, 2015 Link to comment

    Just fyi, the spec sheet at the end of the article incorrectly lists the number of cores at 4, as correctly mentioned in the article it is eight. From the website. ..

    Exynos® 5 Octa (1.9GHz Quadcore + 1.3 GHz Quadcore)

    also, I have one and it rocks. I think the handwriting recognition is better than stated here, otherwise I agree with the review.

    Andrew G

    • 7
      Ruturaj Hagawane Jun 1, 2015 Link to comment

      Wifi version has octa core exynos while 4g lte model has quad core snapdragon

  • 2
    SwissTricky May 8, 2015 Link to comment

    I bought it at a recent sale and I'm extremely happy. It relegated some other tablets I had to the drawer, iPad included!

    Scott Adam Gordon

    • Scott Adam Gordon 31
      Scott Adam Gordon May 8, 2015 Link to comment

      Yeah when I've been looking back over it these past two weeks I've been really surprised by how great it still is. Gonna' keep my eyes peeled for one in a sale too.

  • 7
    william koffke May 8, 2015 Link to comment

    My best to, but I got the tablet and the stylist but not the Yoeman (StarTrek TOS) and now no hint of 5.0 or 5.1. love it - my daily driver & the laptop stays on my desk at work during the week.

    Scott Adam Gordon

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