2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review: S Pen in Command

2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review: draw and multitask

by Tablets for Artists
There’s a parsec of products in the Samsung Galaxy line. This review will focus on the 2014 Galaxy Note 10, which comes with a built-in S pen stylus. The 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1 features a 10.1″ screen.


2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. See it on Amazon.

Note: The Galaxy Note is different than the Galaxy Tab. The regular Galaxy Tab does not have pressure sensitivity and does not come with a pen. If you want to use a stylus to use with a Galaxy Tab, you have to buy one separately, and it will be more like a iPad stylus.

The Galaxy Tab A with S Pen does have pressure sensitivity and a pen, as does the Galaxy TabPro S, which runs Windows.

As of 2013, Samsung has bought 5% of Wacom, so expect a continuing partnership. (Wacom tech is also found in other companies’ tablets.)

Type of Tablet

The Galaxy Note 10.1 is an Android tablet running Android 4.3, Jelly Bean.

For Lefties

It’s fine for left-handers. (The Galaxy Note Edge is another story, as it has a curved screen on one side).


S Pen with eraser and Wacom integration
Wacom digitizer gives you 1,024 levels of pressure sensitivity
WQXGA (2560 x 1600)
1.26 pounds
10.1-Inch high-res TFT display
9.57 x 6.75 x 0.31 inches
8MP rear camera, 2MP front
(1080p video recording), LED flash
MicroSD card slot can hold card of up to 64GB
USB 2.0
Octacore Exynos processor (eight processors, but they are not all used at once; it’s two four-core processors)
Samsung’s AllShare, which can put what’s on your tablet on a Samsung TV
Dolby Surround Sound speakers

This 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review is of the Wi-fi model only, but you can get the Galaxy Note 10.1 with 4G from a variety of carriers.

The multi-window function is a great boon to multitaskers. It lets you have two windows open into which you can drag and drop certain apps.  You can also take a screenshot and write or draw on it.

Using a 10″ tablet gives you twice as much screen as a 7″ tablet, so there’s enough space to multitask. The tablet comes with quite a bit of free content. We like the two free years of 50GB Dropbox.



At one and a quarter pounds, that’s not much weight considering how much productivity you can get with it.


What’s Included

The tablet, S Pen, USB charging cable, travel adapter, quickstart guide.



The Galaxy Note 10.1 screen is high-resolution, with over 4 million pixels, which is double that of HDTV, according to Samsung. The 299ppi is dense, denser than the iPad Air Retina, which boasts 264ppi. The Note’s resolution is really as high as the eye can perceive high resolution. The screen is so bright that it gets good visibility outdoors. So, the display is awesome.

S Pen

galaxy note 10.1 review s pen

The S pen conveniently fits into the side top.

Wacom’s FEEL technology has been integrated into many aspects of the Note. When you use Air Command with the S Pen, a small round window pops up, giving you five functions. With Air Command you can convert handwriting to text you can then format, also make a call, add contacts (such as jotting down a phone number with the pen and converting it), use maps, search, or add to your to-do list.

A nifty feature called Pen Window lets you draw a square which becomes a small multitasking window where you can then open YouTube, the browser or other apps while remaining in your screen. Multitasking is the name of the game; you can drag and drop content and have multiple windows open. This is a major benefit over the one-thing-at-a-time iPad.

There’s also a side window that slides out from the left that serves up maps, YouTube, Evernote, and other apps. Handwriting works smoothly on the Note, even if you’ve got little tiny handwriting.

As art apps get more sophisticated, artists can do a lot without using full Photoshop, including using layers, creating high-resolution files, and exporting files as JPGs. There are many Android drawing and painting apps.

The Galaxy Note could be a go-to tablet for sketching, general productivity, and for some artists it’s enough for finished art for print. Drawing on it is a pleasure. Though some users reported lag, we did not experience any.


Alternatives to the S Pen

Nice as the S-pen is, face it, it’s thin. Though fine for note-taking, doodling, and sketching, it can cramp your hand when drawing for hours on end. And you might prefer the stroke quality of other pens; if you can, try a few and draw holding the pen at different angles.

If you prefer a writing implement that’s a little more solid, there are some alternatives. One is the Wacom Bamboo Stylus Feel for Samsung Galaxy Note. It lacks an eraser, so you’d have to use the eraser in your art app.

Or there’s the the Galaxy Note Genuine Wacom Touch Pen 8pi Stylus. This sports an eraser on the non-writing end.

Since it’s a regular Wacom digitizer, you could use any pen for Wacom-penabled PCs, such as this one, a full-size pen that’s comfortable to write with. This one will not fit into the S Pen slot.


Samsung pen

One article suggested calibration may be off with non-S pens. I did not find this to be true in testing it.



Since the nifty multi-window lets you do two completely different things at once, you could draw and do image research at the same time.

Besides being your portable art studio, you can use the tablet as an e-reader as well as a universal remote control and TV guide.

The buttons are on the side, so they don’t change depending how you’re holding the tablet, portrait or landscape. You have to be a little careful to not push them by accident.



Android apps are available on the Google Play store. Most cost a few dollars, with many free ones. Apps such as Sketchbook Pro and Layer Paint HD will let you open large files, even 10,000 x 10,000 pixels. The number of layers you can create varies with canvas size. Try GIMP for Android; this free, open source alternative to Photoshop is now in Google Play.


Battery Life

Long; up to 9 hours, even 10 if you’re not doing power-intensive stuff like gaming. With gaming, the tablet works fine and can go about 4 hours.


Customer Ratings and Reviews

Almost every 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review is positive. The Note is a popular item among both artists and nonartists. The handwriting capabilities receive praise. Most lag issues have been fixed by updates, according to reviewers–some of the first ones out were sluggish. One  2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review calls it “smoking fast,” another “a beast.” At this fairly high price, consumers should demand excellent performance.


In Developer Settings, turning the animation scales off or to the lowest setting should speed up performance even more.



Excellent battery life

High-resolution, bright screen

Good handwriting recognition; will convert handwriting to text

Can be used with a Bluetooth keyboard or even an external monitor





Some experience lag with TouchWiz, or don’t like TouchWiz. There’s no easy way to disable it.

Not cheap

All plastic with the back being faux leather with “stitching.” Depending how you look at it, that’s refreshingly creative or slightly tacky. I kind of like it, myself.

As with any device, some people’s failed, but there is not a high rate of complaints.


Should you get this or an iPad Pro?

Update:  (When this article was first written, it was before the iPad Pro). The Galaxy Note is a better choice for artists than a regular iPad, it’s more of a competitor to an iPad Pro. The main advantages of the Galaxy Note over iPad Pro are that the S Pen is included, and the memory is expandable. There is no pen battery to worry about with the Note. It also would not be too expensive to get a new pen if yours gets lost.

However, at this point, I’d recommend the iPad Pro because it’s newer and more up to date. If you’re more of an Android fan, the Note is still viable, but it’s aging. A new Note may be in the pipeline.

With a regular iPad you can now get pressure sensitivity via Bluetooth in certain apps, but you are limited to a fairly small lineup of apps; some iPad styluses for art are more accurate than others.

The Verdict

This is a premium tablet that makes a powerful little sketchbook or portable art studio. It does not replace a Wacom Cintiq or full tablet PC. The pens do not have the tilt sensitivity like the more costly professional art tablets such as the Cintiq or Intuos.


Optional Accessories



Professional Ultra SanDisk 64GB MicroSDXC Card




See the Galaxy Note 10.1 on Amazon.


Now that you’ve read this Galaxy Note 10.1 review, it’s time to check out some artmaking!


End of 2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 review

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Review Date
Reviewed Item
2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

26 thoughts on “2014 Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 Review: S Pen in Command

  1. Daniel Crissey

    There is a stylus with the same Wacom EMR technology inside it is called the Staedler Noris Digital for about $29, This one has tilt detection more accuracy aimed more for making art and a real wood pencil just instead of graphite it is wacom pen guts!
    I just ordered a galaxy note 10.1 2014 off Ebay US and a Staedler Noris Digital both open box but includes all OEM accessories! Got the tablet for $159.99 + FREE SHIPPING! and the Staedler Noris Digital for $22.99 + FREE SHIPPING! No Tax! All for a grand total of $182.98 They are on there way. The Staedler Noris Digital estimated delivery is June 1st 2018 and the tablet estimated delivery is June 6th 2018. I’m SO excited! Maybe I will post a update! Anyway Bye! 🙂 -Daniel

    1. Vicky Post author

      Hi, thanks, I have that pen on the site somewhere. It’s a nice pen, it’s an S pen in a wooden casing that’s longer than the regular S pens. That’s a good deal, I don’t see them that cheap on Ebay now! (cheapest I see is the pen for $28 and the tablet for $180 sans USB)–open box (customer returns). If you still can find the lower prices please send them along!

      1. Daniel Crissey

        Did you also see that I said it had angle detection, It could be used at any angle, unlike the s pen where you have to do it straight up! Also one question does the Noris Digital have an eraser? Thank you!

        1. Vicky Post author

          Hi, yes, the “enhanced” S pens that came out a couple years ago also have angle detection. And you never had to hold the S pen straight up, if that’s what you mean; if you don’t have angle detection then the stroke will look the same regardless of the angle at which you are holding the pen. No it does not have an eraser end or button, but you can use the eraser brush. The Noris is longer and nicely balanced in the hand, nice to look at, and economical compared to some Wacom pens.

          1. Daniel Crissey

            Where could I get one of those paper feel screen protectors? Also do you know any corner bumpers compatible with this tablet? Thanks

          2. Vicky Post author

            Most matte screen protectors have a paperlike feeling. There’s one that’s very paperlike that’s just for iPad Pro. I like Photodon and they have one specifically for that Samsung here. I suggest the MHX Anti-Glare 25% High Definition as that’s matte but it’s clear so you can still see the screen well. There aren’t a whole lot of gel cases around that fit that but this one looks pretty nice. Bobj rugged case

          3. DANIEL CRISSEY

            That case covers the fingerprint reader also I don’t want a full case, I guess I will have the tablet naked and be very careful, I might buy the screen protector when I have time. Thank you!

          4. Vicky Post author

            Oh OK. I do see other cases for it on Amazon and eBay, I just don’t see a lot of bumper-type cases. Good luck!

          5. DANIEL CRISSEY

            Would a Wacom Express Key Remote work for andriod? I have an OTG cable and it has a USB receiver. Could it work?

          6. Vicky Post author

            Hi, no because the EKR is set up to work with Wacom drivers, which are only made for Windows and Mac, not Android. Though the drivers are Linux-based, like Android, and you may be able to get some Wacom tablets somewhat functioning with some Android tablets, the EKR is set up to work with the specific functions of the Wacom drivers.

  2. Clarissa

    A lot of the reviews on Amazon complain that this tablet seems to have a one year life span. I was sold on it until I read that. Can you offer your experience based advice on this matter?
    Thanks so much, I really appreciate all the info you’ve provided here!

    1. Post author


      I can understand getting nervous about buying it when there are some negative reviews like that. I searched for the word “year” in the Amazon reviews and didn’t find the complaints to be a large proportion of the reviews, of which there many, but maybe I didn’t see all the ones you saw. Quite a few also said the tablet was working after over a year. A certain amount of the people may actually have had problem chargers, or did something that ran down the battery (such as leaving the tablet in a hot or cold place). I tested one but did not have it for a year. I have a Samsung tablet going on 4 years old that works fine, but things vary. Reading up on it, I see some complaints, some fixes, but not an unusual amount–of course, the people whose tablets died are understandably upset. I cannot say for sure what would happen to any particular one, but I don’t see the Note 10.1 as being a high-risk item. A lot of things affect batteries, including updates, connectors, and dust. The battery can be replaced, usually a repair place does it though some people do it themselves.

      With any device, some will have issues, and batteries are a common cause of complaint. I recommend getting an extended warranty when buying electronics.

  3. aspekt

    Sorry, forgot to ask, but I don’t see a review here for the GNOTE Pro 12″. Did I miss it?

    If not do you have any comments on it currently?


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