Review: Should Apple Be Scared Of Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1?


Samsung’s infamous Galaxy Tab 10.1 will finally be hitting shop shelves just in time for Christmas. But after months of sitting on the sideline, does it still have enough performance to knock Apple’s iPad off the top-spot?


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Right away, Samsung’s Galaxy 10.1 attacks the principle traits Apple’s iPad 2 is renowned for. With a waist measuring 8.6mm thin and weighing 565 grams, the Tab 10.1 is thinner and lighter.

It’s also 256.7mm long and 175.3mm tall, with its proportions conforming to the 16:9 aspect ratio typical of movies.

The front is dominated by a 16 million colour WXGA touch screen with a 1280×800 resolution. The high-res screen gives it a ~149 pixel density, comparing favourably to the ~132ppi found on Apple’s iPad 2.

Scratch resistant Corning Gorilla glass keeps the screen looking schmick and protects it from annoying accidents.

The back is understated by a shiny white plastic that contrasts with its silver frame, which houses a 3MP rear camera and single LED flash.



Harboured inside the thin tablet is a 1GHz dual-core Cortex-A9 processor which is on par with Apple’s offering. Partnering the processor is 1GB of RAM and internal memory starting from 16GB.

The processor zips through most of the application requirements, only slowing down when the RAM nears its capacity, which isn’t a tall order.

There’s no external memory card slot found on the Galaxy Tab, however there is a flap at the top that accommodates an everyday standard sim card.

An internal HSPA modem will deliver theoretical internet download speeds of 21Mbps, but bear in mind practical speeds will depend on your network and other variable factors.

Although it has a bigger screen, the battery life is better than most smartphones thanks to a 7,000mAh battery. It endured YouTube, video playback, tabbed web-browsing (Wi-Fi and 3G), music playback and gaming, only needed a charge after 2 whole days of heavy usage.



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The Galaxy 10.1 runs on Android Honeycomb 3.1 and offers 5 customisable ‘holographic’ home screens that benefit from vast widget and shortcut customisation.

The standard OS features the familiar Honeycomb task manager, but also has Samsung’s own and more powerful task manager.

There are a few areas where the OS can be improved, ranging from a faster homescreen to making features more interdependent. For instance, when you open the gallery you can’t directly send a photo via email. It is possible to do, but you’ll have to enter the email application and then nominate the photo as a file. It’s in areas like this where Android’s mobile OS is superior.

Web-browsing is fluid, simple and intuitive.There’s the added benefit of flash and java support, bridging the gap between a computer and mobile device. The interactive touch element, combined with tablet-specific websites makes it real easy to canvass the World Wide Web and even though it trails behind computer browsing, the gap is significantly smaller.

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YouTube on Honeycomb
Application support is incredibly rich and tablet tailored, delivering enhanced performance when compared to its mobile counterpart.

Software is a touchy subject for the Galaxy 10.1 who was due out roughly four months ago. You get the impression Google is no longer working on Honeycomb innovations, leaving it behind to focuss their efforts on Ice Cream Sandwich. So far there is no official communication that it will inherit the ICS upgrade.


Camera & Gallery

Samsung did a clever thing reducing the camera from 8MP on the 10.1V to 3MP on the Tab 10.1, because it allowed the company to further enhance features that would be valued by customers, such as the tablets proportions, without sacrificing the competitive edge it has over Apple’s iPad 2. Even at the reduced 3MP, it is much better than the single MP shooter found on the iPad. In fact, the tablets front facing 2MP camera still does a better job than the iPad’s cam.

The conventional Samsung camera interface facilitates autofocus, white balance, various scene modes, basic effects and metering. Although it lacks professional prowess, for a tablet its a perfect cam.

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The gallery featured on the 10.1 will sufficiently showcase your photo libraries, but as mentioned earlier, it could do with some improvements. Although it features a 4 way accelerometer, images don’t auto-rotate, requiring the user to activate a rotate option.

It’s also a bit of a hermit when it comes to socialising with other applications and email accounts, forcing users to subscribe to Samsung’s hub if they wish to share photos directly with social networks and other various applications.


Music & Video

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The tablet intelligently organises music, making good use of its extra screen real estate through a dedicated library plane residing on the left side, while a folder’s tracks are found on the right.

It plays a variety of music formats in an attractive and easy to use interface. Unlike its smartphone siblings, the music player does lack the ability to glean track information and videos from the internet, but the audio performance makes up for its shortcomings and then some.

The Tab 10.1 features two stereo speakers with each one located on either of its sides. They produce rich, clear sound across a vast audio range. Admittedly you’re not going to find deep bass, but it outperforms most of the Ultrabooks we’ve heard so far, proving to be very impressive.

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The strong audio capabilities help the 10.1 deliver immersive video playback. Like all current Samsung screens, the 10.1’s is vibrant with colour, crisp and accommodates fluid motion. The software is intuitive, offers three types of colour profiles and even has an outdoor profile that ups the colour brightness when in sunlight. The included video player is thorough and, when combined with the performing speakers, will deliver one of the finest viewing experiences on a tablet yet.



Samsung has produced a stellar tab that focusses on performance and portability. The stereo speakers, sublime screen and capable innards work together to create a stunning multimedia experience. Great application support and an effortless browsing experience make its lean build all the more impressive, and although it could be a perfect tablet through a few fine tweaks, as it stands it’s the best Android tablet on the market.

If I was Apple, I’d be worried too.

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