With rumours about the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 and the Galaxy Gear, hype surrounding a new Galaxy Note tablet prior to IFA 2013 was severely downplayed, but you'll be able to get your S-Pen fix with a fresh Note 10.1. The new version of the tablet device, the 2014 Edition, reflects the leather-clad design language of its smartphone companion in a much larger package. The latest and greatest Note tablet, which will be rolling out globally this quarter in jet black and classic white, though specific availability is still unknown.
The 2014 edition is closer to the design language of the Note 3 than its own predecessor. It offers the same "leather-like" material on the back, with stitching on the borders. While this likely doesn't add anything to the tab's overall durability, it at least exudes more of a "classy" look, though it isn't a perfect solution to a lengthy build quality concern. Samsung has also decided to go with a single color across the back, rather than a two-tone scheme as seen on the original Note 10.1. Don't worry by the chrome edges of the device: while they look like aluminum from a distance, Samsung reps informed us that they are indeed a plastic build; true enough, when you take a closer look, it's much more readily apparent, and it makes the tablet look cheaper as a result.
There's not much to the back of the new 10.1, as it features an 8MP rear camera with BSI and AF and LED flash below it, and that's about it, aside from the obligatory logos. The units we looked at offered both a Samsung logo and the global LTE symbol. You'll be able to choose between this version, which will be available with a 2.3GHz Snapdragon 800 chipset, and 3G / WiFi or WiFi-only models, which will use the Exynos Octa-core chipset clocked at 1.9GHz. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that unlike the Note 3, the 2014 edition doesn't come with a removable back cover nor replaceable battery. Still, its doubted that the 8,220mAh battery stuffed inside the device will be much of a reason for anyone to complain; this should give you more than enough life out of your tablet in between charges.
You won't find the front to be anything overly unique visually, though Samsung is now offering the set of three buttons (two capacitive and one physical) on the bottom of the tablet when held in landscape mode. The company used the same setup on the Note 8.0 but had it situated in portrait mode instead. Both capacitive buttons are compatible with the S-Pen, which makes it much easier to get into the menu or go backwards without having to set the stylus aside. A 2.0MP camera sets up on top and just a little off-center, right next to the proximity sensor.
Samsung is using a WQXGA (2560x1600) LCD panel, which translates into a pixel density just barely shy of 300 ppi. This kind of screen was seen in another recent Samsung device: the Nexus 10. This is one of the best you can get on the market for a tablet of this size, and we were just as taken with it this time as we had been in its first physical manifestation. In addition to the specs, the Note 10.1 will also give you 3GB RAM, Android 4.3 Jelly Bean, compatibility with the Galaxy Gear, dual-band WiFi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac support, Bluetooth 4.0, USB 2.0, your choice of 16, 32 or 64GB internal storage and microSD support for up to 64 additional gigabytes. It also supports 192kHz and 24 bit audio.
We don't want to spend too much time on the software because the enhancements we saw on the 2014 edition are exactly the same as they are on the Note 3. The Flipboard-style Magazine UI is there with a swipe up from the bottom, and you'll have the chance to take advantage of Air Command, Scrapbook, Multi-Window enhancements and Pen Window, among other features. The S-Pen was a little more difficult to unsheath from its holding place, much like the Note 3; we're not sure if this is more noticeable because it's a pre-production device or if it gets easier over time. We'll have to wait and see what kinds of changes, if any, will take place between now and the device's actual launch.