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.

Cracking Open the Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1

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.


  • 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

By Bill Detwiler

Bill Detwiler is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic 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 support specialist in the ...