Home > Android Tablet Reviews > Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 (SMT-520)
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
What's Hot: Excellent high resolution display, fast performance. Thin and light. Lots of features including AV remote, GPS and Hancom Office.
What's Not: As ever for Samsung, it's a plastic flagship, Magazine UX is quirky and not terribly extensible.
Reviewed June 5, 2014 by Lisa Gade, Editor
in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)
Today we look at the middle child in Samsung's new family of Pro Android tablets. The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 sits in between the Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4 and the Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 (also available as the Tab Pro 12.2, minus pen features). The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is in many ways the no-pen version of the Note 10.1 2014 Edition. Previously, Samsung offered a line of mid-range Android tablets and if you wanted high end features you had to go with the Note series, even if you didn't want their S Pen. The question is, how many of you don't want that pen?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 looks just like the Note 10.1 2014 edition, right down to the seriously slim design and faux leather plastic back that's available in your choice of black or white. The tablet weighs a hair over a pound, making it as light as the iPad Air. Like the Note, it runs on Samsung's Exynos 5 Octa 1.9GHz CPU with MALI T628 graphics. That 5420 has two sets of quad cores, one for high demand tasks and one for low demand tasks. It has 2 gigs of RAM rather than the Note's 3 gigs (one might assume the pen features require more RAM). The $499 WiFi only tablet has 16 gigs of storage. Samsung doesn't list a 32 gig model here in the US, so we don't know if it's coming. As a consolation, it has a microSD card slot and Samsung has customized Android to allow app installations to a card.
Like the other Pro tablets, the Tab Pro 10.1 has a front 2MP camera and rear 8MP camera with LED flash and Samsung's usual array of easy to use photo modes. Dual band WiFi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0, an IR blaster with AV remote and GPS round out the features.
The 10.1" tablet has a bright and colorful 2560 x 1600 display, which is the same resolution as the 2014 Note 10.1 and the Note/Tab Pro 12.2. That's the highest resolution you'll currently find on an Android tablet, and text is pin sharp and photos are very detailed. The display has very good color saturation and you can mildly customize color balance using Samsung's display modes presets. Colors are more natural than on Samsung's Super AMOLED smartphone displays, though black levels aren't quite as deep. The screen is quite bright and at max brightness is viewable outdoors.
Ports and Speakers
The Tab Pro 10.1 has few ports: a 3.5mm combo audio jack, micro SDXC card slot under a door and a micro USB 2.0 port (not 3.0 like the Note 3 phone or Note Pro 12.2 tablet). To use USB peripherals like keyboards, mice, game controllers, USB Ethernet adapters and flash drives (FAT32 only), you'll need to buy a USB OTG host adapter cable for around $15. Android lacks drivers for 3G/4G USB wireless modems and other advanced USB peripherals (consider a Windows tablet if you need extensive USB driver support).
The tablet has stereo speakers, one on each side when held in landscape mode, and they have adequate volume and sound quality. The Pro 10.1 has a mechanical (moving, clicking button) Home button on the front, flanked by capacitive, backlit multitasking and back buttons. Samsung's excellent on-screen keyboard can be augmented with auditory and haptic feedback.
Directly above and below: the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 and the iPad Air.
Deals and Shopping:
Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 Video Review
Magazine UX and Software Bundle
We've seen Samsung's multitasking before, and it really shines on bigger screens. On the 12.2" Note Pro you can have up to 4 windows running in multi-window view, while on the Tab Pro 10.1 it's 2 windows due to the smaller screen size. As always with this Samsung feature, not every installed app gets the multi-tasking green light, but there are enough important apps that you won't be lacking for ways to fill up your screen: both Internet (webkit) and Chrome web browsers, YouTube, Video, Maps, Hancom Office, Calculator, Calendar, Play Music, Play Store, Twitter, Play Books, Play Movies & TV, Evernote, BSPlayer, Adobe Reader, Contacts, e-Meeting, Samsung's music player, My Files (file manager), Gallery, Email and more are supported. You can save window pairings if you often use two apps together--say the web browser and the video player. And then there's Samsung's floating app feature where you can run the video player in a floating window.
As covered in our Samsung Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 review, Hancom Office is a revelation. It has full desktop PC Office features rather than the usual stripped down mobile Office. Hword (Hancom Word) has advanced formatting, image and clip art insertion, footnotes and endnotes. The spreadsheet has pivot tables, formulas and more. The PowerPoint compatible app is feature-rich. If you intend to spend a lot of quality time working with MS Office documents, you'll want Hancom, which is exclusive to Samsung Galaxy Pro and Tab 4 tablets.
Since Samsung targets business users, they've included a bundle of apps like WebEx, Remote PC (RemoteView by rview), KNOX tablet security, and Dropbox (with 50 gigs storage for a year). Remote PC can control Windows, Mac and Linux PCs remotely, albeit with some lag. It can handle everything except full screen PC games.
Lastly, there's the new Magazine UX, an attractive presentation of news topics and it offers quick access to select apps. The magazine is a cross between Flipboard, which is in fact pre-loaded, and Windows 8's Live Tiles. Unfortunately, the selection of tiles is limited and news content updates (via Flipboard) are flakey. You do get standard Android home screens with widgets too, and you can add more screens as needed.
Performance and Horsepower
The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 runs on the 1.9GHz Exynos 5 Octa 5420 CPU, which has 4 high power 1.9GHz cores and 4 companion 1.3GHz low power cores when serious processing power isn't needed. It's a strong CPU with MALI-T628 graphics, though it falls slightly shy of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 800. That's the same processor used in the 2014 Galaxy Note 10.1, Galaxy Note Pro 12.2 WiFi model and some (non-US) Samsung Galaxy Note 3 smartphones. This is one of the fastest Android tablets currently on the market, and it's fast enough to handle Samsung's TouchWiz UI embellishments, the full-featured Hancom Office and today's top 3D games like Asphalt 8 and Modern Combat 4 perfectly.
The Galaxy Tab Pro 10.2 has 2 gigs of RAM where 1 gig is common and 2 to 3 gigs is flagship. Currently, Samsung only offers it with 16 gigs of internal storage. You can use a microSD card up to 64 gigs capacity to extend storage, and Samsung's tweak to allow app installation to SD cards is here. The tablet runs Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of the OS, and it won't allow you to move apps to SD cards if they touch core system functions.
||3D Mark Ice Storm
|Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1
|Samsung Galaxy Tab S 10.5 (Snapdragon)
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 10.1
|Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014
|Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1
|Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 8.4
|Google Nexus 9
|Google Nexus 10
|Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0
|Kindle Fire HDX 8.9
The 2 megapixel front and 8 megapixel rear cameras are the same across Samsung's new Pro line of tablets and you'll also find them in the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition. Tablet cameras generally aren't the best, but the front camera is sharper and brighter than average among phones and tablets, and it works well for video conferencing. The rear camera likewise is capable and it can shoot 1080p video. The rear camera has an LED flash and Samsung's usual array of photo modes and settings with an intuitive user interface. As with other recent Samsung Galaxy products, you can simultaneously use the front and rear cameras. While overall rear camera quality isn't noticeably better than the capable iPad Air, the software features are much more extensive.
The Tab Pro 10.1 has an 8220 mAh Lithium Ion battery and Samsung claims 10 hours of actual use time. That's a decently large battery for a 10" tablet, but the Exynos 5 Octa isn't as power frugal as the Snapdragon 800, particularly when gaming, so runtimes are good for productivity but shorter than the Snapdragon when gaming. When using the tablet for web, email, social networking, Hancom Office and streaming a 45 minute episode of Mad Men via Netflix, we averaged 8 hours of actual use time at 50% brightness with WiFi on. The tablet doesn't have a feature similar to Qualcomm's quick charging, so it takes at least 4 hours to charge a completely drained battery. Should Samsung release a 4G LTE version of this tablet, it would likely have the Snapdragon 800 or 801 due to LTE chipset integration issues. The tablet comes with Samsung's usual small white 5v 2 amp charger and a micro USB to USB cable.
Undeniably, the Samsung Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is one of the better 10 inch Android tablets on the market. It doesn't come cheap (though retailers are already offering discounts), but the very fast quad core CPU and 2560 x 1600 display are cream of the crop, so the price is fair. Compared to the iPad Air, as ever with Samsung and Android, you get more features including an AV remote, microSD card slot, USB host and a camera app loaded with features. The iPad Air fights back with a stronger tablet app ecosystem, where many more apps are optimized to take advantage of the large display. That said, Android apps run fine on the tablet, even if not designed to make the best use of the inches available. Compared to other Android tablets, the Sony Xperia Z2 tablet is worth a look, and for those who crave a keyboard dock, there's the aging but still strong Asus Transformer TF701. Samsung's own more budget-minded $349 Galaxy Tab 4 10.1 has a lower resolution display, lower resolution cameras and a slower CPU, but it offers many of the same features including Hancom Office, the AV remote, card slot and multitasking in a very similar looking package. The Tab 4 is a nice midrange tablet, but the Galaxy Tab Pro 10.1 is the obvious pick for power users.
Price: $499 for the WiFi-only 16 gig model
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Display: 10.1" TFT capacitive touch screen. Resolution:
2560 x 1600. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer and proximity sensor.
Battery: 8220 mAh Lithium
Ion Polymer rechargeable. Battery is not user replaceable.
Performance: 1.9GHz Samsung Exynos 5 Octa 5420 quad core processor (ARM A15) plus 1.3GHz quad core companion ARM A7 processors for lower power tasks. MALI T-628 graphics. 2 gigs RAM. 16 gigs internal storage.
x 6.8 x 0.29 inches. Weight: 16.54 ounces.
GPS: Has GPS with aGPS.
Camera: 2MP front camera and 8MP rear camera with LED, HDR mode. Can shoot 1080p video.
in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard combo mic-headphone
dual band WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0 LE.
Software: Android OS 4.4 KitKat with Samsung TouchWiz UI and software. Standard suite of Google Android applications including webkit web browser, Chrome web browser, email, gmail, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Search and the Google Play Store. Samsung WatchOn, My Files, Media Hub, ChatON, Samsung Apps, Hancom Office, and AllShare Play dLNA.
SDXC microSD card slot compatible with cards up to 64 gigs.