With the Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung brings a stylus to the iPad fight

With the Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung brings a stylus to the iPad fight

Samsung has released a new iPad-sized tablet and, of course, our Mobile Nations sibling site Android Central has a complete Galaxy Tab 10.1 review ready and waiting for you. Will it give Apple a run for their money in the large-form tablet space? Sadly, doesn't look like it. Here's Anndrew Vacca's bottom line:

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is unique and stands out among a seemingly endless sea of competitors, though not always in a good way. Samsung has stepped back and reshaped its tablet strategy, now focusing on user experience rather than specs alone, and if you keep an open mind about the included S Pen, you just might find it more handy than you would have imagined. However, we believe the $500 you'll spend on a base Note 10.1 would be better spent on two Nexus 7s. However, if you've got your heart set on a full-sized tablet, the Galaxy Note 10.1 is the way to go if you want to keep from breaking the bank.

I've used Wacom tablets for years. When I did design in enterprise software, it was the only sane way to navigate Photoshop and Illustrator on two really large monitors. I like Wacom's technology very much. I haven't had a chance to try the Galaxy Note 10.1 myself yet, but I hope, if nothing else, they've nailed the Wacom experience.

However, nailing the Wacom experience isn't going to do diddly squat against the iPad. They need to nail the tablet experience, and unfortunately it doesn't sound like they've done that. I've been using a Nexus 7 constantly for about a month now, and even that doesn't come anywhere close to the experience of an iPad, so if Samsung isn't even matching the Nexus 7, that's a big problem.

The S Pen-touting Galaxy Note 10.1 will be both a blessing and a curse for Samsung. On one hand, Samsung has created a device that stands out amongst its competitors with unique features and a truly different user experience. In the same breath, the S Pen is sure to scare away folks who balk at the idea of reverting back to a stylus. Iā€™m here to say that love or hate the S Pen, the Galaxy Note 10.1 just may be the best 10-inch Android tablet on the market today.

And if that's truly the case, that's a bigger problem for Google and for Android.

Apple owns the 10-inch tablet market right now. Owns it in a way a market hasn't been owned since Windows began its ascent in the early 90s. Apple will probably never get to 90+% (which is a very good thing -- we want lots of competition), but when the iPad mini launches this fall, they'll likely grab a huge percentage of the 7- to 8-inch tablet market as well. Especially if the Nexus 7 is the best even Google can manage. (The iPad mini won't be a big iPod touch like the Nexus 7, it'll be a small iPad, with all the software implications that involves).

Samsung has been incredibly successful battling Apple on the phone front. They, or someone, needs to bring that same pressure to Apple on the tablet front. And soon please.

In the meantime, go read the entirety of Andrew's Galaxy Note 10.1 review over at AC, then come back and let me know what you think. What will it take to get a real iPad competitor to market?

Have something to say about this story? Leave a comment! Need help with something else? Ask in our forums!

Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

With the Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung brings a stylus to the iPad fight


I like the idea that one spends hundreds of dollars on these devices and then don't ALSO have to spend another hundred on accessories like styli (for precision, which is important for some tasks), cases, covers, and keyboards (c'mon, Surface).

This is more than just a stylus. This is Wacom technology. Night and day. You simply can't get that on most other tablets.

Actually they brought true multitasking to the iPad fight. I've only heard bad things about it though, performance and hardware wise. Good solid effort but it needs work.

As for a real iPad competitor, that is a preference thing, IMHO. I much prefer my Nexus 7 over my iPad at this point. I have even forgotten where my iPad was a few times until I wanted to prop it up as a larger screen for Netflix; which is about all I use it for these days.

Size aside, I'm willing to bet the iPad will see a reduction in marketshare in the next quarterly report as it has been steadily declining and with a great device like the 7 and others on the market it will only get smaller. Surely the iPad Mini will help the fight but it would take people owning two iPads (meaning folks like you and I who will probably buy one just 'cause) or a major push into the non-tablet-owner market.

The multitasking isn't as slow and laggy as some reviewers make you think. And I'm not even going to comment on the AndroidCentral review. Ok, I will. It's misleading, and I'm being nice.

Anyway, on Tuesday I traded in my iPad2 for the new iPad. While I was there, i got a Note 10.1 too. I'm an Android phone user (until September 21) and an iPad tablet user. I so want an Android tablet to be at least equal with the iPad experience. I keep reverting back to my iPad though whenever I try to use an Android tablet. But I hope this Note 10.1 will be a keeper. I'm going to try and put my iPad away for a solid week and use nothing but the 10.1 and see how it goes.

But to answer the question of: "What will it take to get a real iPad competitor to market?". Obviously non Apple tablet makers have been trying to answer that question but dumping more and more Android tablets to the market. The Note 10.1 is trying a different twist because the current formula isn't working. The Nexus 7 is a totally different beast and shouldn't be compared to an iPad. So what will it take? How about a fluid, smooth OS. An OS that I can count on when I need it. Apps that look as good as they work. Apps that work on all versions of the OS.

I think if there is a 10" Nexus tablet, with a decent price, it may come closer to being a competitor than the current Android tablets on the market. But if there is an iPad mini, and it blows away Nexus 7 sales, there's no way we'll see 10" Nexus tablet.

Android Police, a resoundingly pro-Android blog, absolutely hates the Galaxy Note 10.1's build quality, materials, workmanship, etc.

Here's a quote:

"The hardware is pure, unadulterated garbage. The build quality is so bad, I think it gave me cancer."

Here's another quote:

'The overall impression I get from this is arrogance. "We're Samsung. You slobs will buy anything we crap out. We don't have to try, we don't even need the latest components. You'll buy it no matter what."'

Full article for the few, the proud, the non-TL;DR readers:


[Edit: Be sure to watch the "squishy plastic" video too. Insanely funny.]

The reason I always ended up hating my PDAs of yore was because of the stylus. So slow for inputting anything. Plus, this thing is the same price as the iPad. Which means if I was going to spend $500 for a tablet I would be buying the iPad.

You can use your fingers like any other tablet. What makes it unique is the Wacom digitizer. There are certain apps that take advantage of the S-Pen. BTW, it's not a stylus.

So sad. So much disinformation and so much judgement based on 3rd hand info.

Annndrew's review on AC is probably the most objective one out there - and it is disappointingly full of subjective nonsense, when it could have actual objective facts and measurements. He at least got it right when he said "the Galaxy Note 10.1 just may be the best 10-inch Android tablet on the market today."

Speaking as someone who actually HAS a Note 10.1 in my possession, here is my firsthand assessment:

- the build quality is excellent. The back is made of plastic. So what? Even if that bothered me, it would bother me no more after putting a cover on it, which I would do anyway, just like I did for my iPad 2.

- Comments about the display range from "crappy" to "POS". All based on the resolution - not the way it actually looks. And mostly from people who have not actually used one. What was "brilliant" by 6 months ago standards is not "crappy" now. The New iPad has the reputation for having the best screen on the market. If the New iPad display is Great, then the Note 10.1 display is still Very Good.

- The performance is excellent. I have only had a slight lag or choppiness a couple of times, and it's generally been when running the browser on web pages with lots of embedded graphics, etc (e.g. AndroidCentral). It is much snappier than my TouchPad running Android (CM9).

- In my opinion, the biggest mistake Apple made with the New iPad was putting the Retina display on it. It is *very* *slightly* better (I mean, really, it doesn't let you do anything you couldn't do with the iPad 2 - which also has a very good display). And the New iPad has double the battery capacity, but the same or less battery life, compared to the iPad 2. And it's thicker, to boot. I think Apple would have been much better off to keep the same rez for the New iPad display, put in that much bigger battery, keep it as thin or thinner than the iPad 2, and have it run twice as long on a charge. Fortunately, that is basically the route Samsung took with the Note display and I am very happy for that. A higher rez display would mean using more battery and more processor power - for no good reason. My Note is still running on its first full battery charge. It currently shows 1 day, 22 hours on battery with 55% charge remaining, with me playing with it constantly. Awesome. The battery isn't even really conditioned yet.

- If you completely ignore the stylus capabilities, the Note performance is still as good or better than any other Android tablet.

- The stylus lets you do things that the iPad cannot do. Nor can any Transformer or the Nexus 7. One example: I handwrote a note, using S-Note, exported it to Evernote, then opened Evernote on my PC. There, I did a search for words in the note that I hand wrote and Evernote found them. Of course, not 100% accurate, but pretty darn good. And you can't do THAT with an iPad or a Transformer. OTOH, anything you can do with a Transformer, you can do with a Note 10.1. And pretty much the same is true when compared against the iPad - excepting of course for specific apps that may only exist on the iPad.