Today at Samsung’s Unpacked event in Germany, the company unveiled an updated version of one of its big tablets — the Galaxy Note 10.1. Until now, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 and the Galaxy Note 10.1 came with a 1280×800 display. The company finally put a 2560×1600 display to better compete with the iPad’s retina display. As always, Samsung bets on its own set of features, such as the S-pen, to convince customers. But Android tablets really shine in the 7-inch form factor, not in the big iPad-like form factor.
Inside the tablet you’ll find the same components as the newly unveiled Galaxy Note 3: an 8-core Octa system on a chip clocked at 1.9 GHz, 3GB or RAM, an 8-megapixel rear camera with a 2-megapixel front camera. Just like the Note 3, you’ll get the same faux-leather casing. Finally, all of this will come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models.
But specs only tell part of the story. Why should you get this tablet? Samsung hopes that its unique features are enough to pick this one over an iPad. While it comes with Android 4.3, you will be able to use Samsung’s multi-window mode, S Voice, S Note and everything Samsung. The S Pen is a nice addition that some users will actually find useful. But many users won’t ever use the vast majority of those Samsung-only features.
Yet, the most important flaw is the Android ecosystem itself. 10-inch Android tablets are not popular because Android captured the lower end of the market. That’s why many tablet apps are just scaled up versions of their phone counterparts. Developers don’t spend time reworking the UI for big screens. It still works on a 7-inch tablet, but it makes you feel like you are holding a giant phone with a 10-inch tablet.
When it comes to watching movies, photos and browsing the web, the Galaxy Note 10.1 will be a nice device for Android users. But if you plan to make the best of the display, you won’t find many apps to achieve this. Most Android users would prefer a smaller tablet. It’s easier to carry in one hand and you get the exact same apps without wasting screen real estate. Moreover, the high resolution display will make the overall experience more sluggish with stuttering animations.
While the Galaxy Note 10.1 is a good attempt to compete with the retina iPad, Android still has a long way to go to make these tablets compelling. No word on price or availability yet.