Tablets

Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 teardown shows rigid, repair-friendly design

Bill Detwiler disassembles the Galaxy Note 10.1 and shows you why it's easy to service and an improvement over the 10-inch Galaxy Tab.

After cracking open Samsung's Galaxy Tab 10.1 last year, I criticized the tablet for feeling flimsy and having tamper-resistant screws on the back cover. Thankfully, Samsung addressed both these concerns in the 10-inch Note.

Our test unit had a 1.4GHz 4 Quad Exynos processor, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, 5MP rear-facing camera, 2MP front-facing camera, and 10.1" WXGA LCD (1280x800). It was a Wi-Fi-only model, but an HSPA+ global version is also available. the tablet measured 10.11 (W) x 6.9" (H) x 0.35" (D) and weighs 1.29 pounds.

Full teardown gallery: Cracking Open the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

Cracking Open Observations

  • Case is easy to open: Opening the Note 10.1 isn't difficult, but there is a trick to it. First, remove the piece of trim that runs along the device's upper edge and the three Phillips screws underneath. Then, starting at the top and working your way down each side, pop loose the tabs. With each side free, you can then lift the cover off from the top.
  • Hardware is accessible: The Note's internal design is very similar to last year's 10-inch Galaxy Tab. The battery sits in the center of the case with the motherboard at the top and speakers on either side. The ribbon cables for the digitizer, display, and docking connector run from the bottom edge, across the battery, to the motherboard. And like the Tab, most of the Note's hardware is easy to access and can be removed with a triple-zero Phillips screwdriver.
  • Single-unit display/front panel assembly: Unfortunately, also like the Tab, the display and front panel assembly are a single unit. The Note's internal frame, which holds the LCD in place, is attached to the front panel assembly with a process called thermoplastic staking. To remove the frame and get to the display, you must break these stakes. If you're careful, you can do this without damaging the display or the internal frame. So, technically you can replace one without replacing the other. But, it's clear that Samsung meant for the screen, front panel, and frame to be replaced as one piece.
  • S Pen stylus: Despite the two tablets' similarities, there are important differences. First, are the storage slot for the Note's S Pen and the embedded contact, which tells the tablet when the stylus is in use and enables palm rejection.
  • Feels more rigid than Galaxy Tab 10.1: Another difference is the piece of molding that runs around the tablet's outer edge. It's mounted between the front panel's bezel and internal frame. The plastic stakes I mentioned earlier are actually part of this molding. The older Galaxy Tab doesn't have this molding. Its front panel was attached directly to the internal frame. Given that the Note's back cover feels just as flexible as the Tab's, and their internal frames are so similar, I suspect this molding helps give the new tablet a more rigid feel, which is a big improvement over the Galaxy Tab.

Hardware

  • 1.4GHz Samsung Exynos 4 Quad processor with integrated graphics (4412)
  • 2GB Samsung K3PE0E000M-XGC1 RAM
  • 32GB Samsung KLMBG4GE4A-A00x eMMC
  • 5MP front-facing camera
  • 2MP rear-facing camera
  • 10.1" WXGA LCD (1280x800)
  • 3.7 volts, 7000 mAh Li-ion battery (SP3676B1A(1S2P))
  • Wacom W8008 1227KU203
  • KM2629003
  • 34LM85AM 1225
  • F0514A 430 1223KP409
  • Silicon Image Sil9244 MHL Transmitter with HDMI Input (SIMG 9244B0 NC6667C 10L2224)
  • Maxim Power MAX77686 regulator
  • Atmel mXT1664S touchscreeen controller (MXT1664S-GU 1222A TW D6G6Q.1)
  • 17042 26A3X
  • Wolfson WM1811 audio CODEC (WM1811AE 25EKKGW)
  • 330DC 2228 DPABN
  • ABOV 332AUB 1224
  • Broadcom wireless chip

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

5 comments
florinmano
florinmano

Bill, that's a great article. Its not very clear from the pictures, can the memory be upgraded? Or its soldered onto the mobo?

nicks81
nicks81

Keep these series coming, find this stuff fascinating. Did you have any dramas re-assembling? I would give this a go if I wasn't too scared of killing my device

d9.buchan
d9.buchan

wtf is •Wacom W8008 1227KU203 •KM2629003 •34LM85AM 1225 •F0514A 430 1223KP409 Wacom I can guess but any better detail on what these are ? And if you don't know why include them....

Nitramd
Nitramd

Bill, it is a great disappointment that no one appears to post on your interesting tear-down series. Responses to blogs on Techrepublic appear increasingly generated by fan boy-ism, rather than in offering constructive criticism & discussion of the engineering hardware solutions that you concisely illustrate. My response above, is an appreciation of your work & attempt to stimulate interest of other posters, sorry to have failed here. Perhaps I should have compared Samsungs Notes Display panel being permanently fastened into a front assembly unit, is not that different in principle to Apple's superior method of bonding the Retina panel into the lid of the Mac Book Pro & of equal limited Eco Unfriendliness as previously stated above, (As long as Apple's exchange costs are reasonable!) Lastly & for the record, I do admit that I too contribute in the product polarized areas & do enjoy the fun of the ensuing lively debate, but only when the blog clearly leads to a discussion there. Does one really have to deride certain companies in order to attract interest here?

Nitramd
Nitramd

I can see the reasoning for incorporating the display into an overal front panel assembly. Rigidity, simpler manufacture, quick repair in time that replaces all the areas of user wear & tear whilst ensuring seal & rigidity integrity to factory standards, Hopefully this will offset the increased cost of the extra plastic bits over a bare panel type assembly repair. Question, why was thermal staking chosen in preference to bonding to secure display panel ? Wouldn't the latter method do it, with fewer , simpler components ,less production processes, give it greater rigidity & toughness, with stress loads being fed via the shortest path to & from the panel, evenly along its mounting faces (as opposed to point contacts), & lastly it would produce a better seal against external contaminents too! There must be some good reason, as the bonding method would not compromise fit, form & function of the front panel assembly, and may even increase longevity & reliability, (not all modularisations & bonding in components exercises should be considered eco-hostile or just there to promote planned obsolescence). My guess is that they are just doing what worked before on their existing & earlier designs, and time/cost constraints prohibited its introduction. Seeing that replacing a lcd panel seems to involve a complete strip down, can you advise to times todo this! (I cannot view the video to see if that can be measured there & Im too new to this sport to make other than a rough guess of 1hr for complete lcd replacement?? ). Time & cost of parts will obviously dictate repair friendleness/viability, and possibily make its failure rate even more crucial. Look,not once did I mention Apple (oops!)