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February 28, 2024
Android & iOS App & Software Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9, Tab S9 Plus, Tab S9 Ultra review: easier choices

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In the event you’re fascinated about shopping for a high-end Android pill this 12 months, Samsung is making your resolution simpler than ever.

This 12 months’s Galaxy Tab S9 tablets, which embody the 11-inch Tab S9, the 12.4-inch Tab S9 Plus, and the large 14.6-inch Tab S9 Extremely, are remarkably related — you possibly can base your total resolution on how a lot cash you need to spend and what measurement display you need. They’ve received the identical display expertise, similar processors, similar coloration choices, similar designs, similar accent choices, and largely all the identical options throughout the board.

In comparison with final 12 months’s Tab S8 lineup, there are two tangible upgrades within the S9s: a brand new Qualcomm processor that guarantees to be somewhat sooner (although pace and efficiency have been by no means actually points in final 12 months’s tablets), and IP68 water and dirt resistance, similar to most fashionable smartphones. Which means you should use these tablets round a pool or bathtub, or extra seemingly, you simply received’t have to fret about life’s little mishaps on the espresso store or when a toddler surprises you with their vary when throwing a sippy bottle. I don’t know of every other non-rugged tablets which have this sort of water resistance — Android, iPad, or in any other case — so it’s a reputable differentiator for Samsung’s fashions and a pleasant factor to have.

Water resistance isn’t one thing you’ll discover on any iPad, however all three Tab S9 fashions have it

I assume that, in case you are studying this, you already know why you need to purchase a Samsung pill, however to recap: they’re good options to Apple’s iPad lineup in case you are already invested within the Samsung ecosystem by means of a telephone, earbuds, or another product. They share the identical software program because the telephones so you possibly can simply go information between gadgets, reply to textual content messages out of your pill, or use the identical apps throughout each. When you have a set of Galaxy Buds, they will seamlessly transition their connection between the telephone and pill relying on which one you’re utilizing. It’s all similar to how an iPad integrates with an iPhone, AirPods, and the remainder of Apple’s ecosystem, and I am going into extra depth on it in my overview of the Tab S8 and S8 Plus from final 12 months.

Samsung’s high-end tablets are additionally glorious media consumption machines, with beautiful OLED shows and nice audio system. Motion pictures, TV exhibits, and video games all look and sound nice on them. If all you propose to do with a pill is watch motion pictures on it, you possibly can’t do a lot better than these, although you may get almost nearly as good of an expertise for considerably much less cash from Apple, Lenovo, or OnePlus if that’s all you need to do.

Talking of which: these tablets are costly. Samsung truly raised the value of every mannequin by $100 this 12 months, so the most affordable Tab S9 begins at $799.99, the center highway Tab S9 Plus is $999.99 and up, and the large boy Tab S9 Extremely leaps as much as a $1,199.99 beginning worth. All of them nonetheless include the (now additionally water resistant) S Pen stylus within the field, however keyboards and different equipment can simply push the price tons of of {dollars} larger. And frustratingly, Samsung doesn’t embody a charging brick, even supposing these help as much as 45W quick charging and can take eternally to cost on a typical phone-size charger.

I’ve been testing all three fashions for just a few weeks and have suggestions for who every mannequin is for. I’ve additionally included some aggressive options for every measurement beneath.

Galaxy Tab S9: the one for pill stuff

How we fee and overview merchandise

Of the three sizes obtainable, the 11-inch Galaxy Tab S9 is the one greatest fitted to typical pill duties. I’m speaking about watching video, studying books, taking notes, taking part in video games, and light-weight productiveness akin to sending emails. It’s the one one of many three that’s actually comfy to carry in your palms for an prolonged time period, and it’s the one one which isn’t painfully awkward to make use of in portrait orientation on account of its smaller measurement.

I additionally actually like this measurement for taking handwritten notes utilizing the S Pen, which is my favourite stylus to do that with. Samsung Notes is a full-featured note-taking app that comes included with the pill and might sync with Microsoft’s OneNote. Moreover, the Android ecosystem is slowly getting extra choices we’re used to seeing on the iPad. Goodnotes, a longtime iPad note-taking favourite, is offered at no cost for one 12 months on the Tab S9 collection, and I’ve been utilizing Nebo loads currently for its glorious handwriting-to-text conversion and cross-platform syncing.

The Tab S9 nonetheless comes with the S Pen, which has the identical stage of water resistance because the pill. It magnetically attaches to the again of the Tab S9 to cost.

In earlier years, you had to purchase the larger Samsung tablets to get the very best screens, however that’s not the case this time — the Tab S9 now comes with the identical 120Hz OLED display as its siblings, solely in a smaller measurement. Mixed with the Tab S9’s 4 Dolby Atmos-compatible audio system, it supplies an ideal movie-watching expertise.

My important grievance with the Tab S9 is Samsung’s insistence on sticking to a 16:10 facet ratio, which makes the Tab S9 much more rectangular than one thing like an 11-inch iPad Professional or the OnePlus Pad. The width of the Tab S9 is almost an identical to the width of these tablets, however you lose half an inch or extra of display peak, inflicting net searching to really feel extra cramped in panorama and all the pieces to really feel a bit too slender in portrait.

You possibly can multitask with Samsung’s in depth split-screen choices on the Tab S9, and you may even run its desktop-like DeX mode if you’d like, however the smaller measurement display makes this a bit awkward except you stick with primary side-by-side apps. It’s not the pill I’d select to interchange a laptop computer or get a whole lot of productiveness work executed on.

Options:

  • Apple iPad Professional 11 or iPad Air: related measurement and could be cheaper. It has higher app choice however not as good of a display and doesn’t embody a stylus.
  • OnePlus Pad: a lot cheaper, higher facet ratio on the display, however not as good of a show and never as refined.
  • Google Pixel Pill: loads cheaper and comes with a helpful speaker / charging dock, however it’s not as good of a display or audio system and never as quick because the Tab S9.

Galaxy Tab S9 Extremely: the one to get work executed on

How we fee and overview merchandise

There’s actually just one motive to contemplate the big Tab S9 Extremely: you propose to make use of it as an alternative of a laptop computer to get work executed. That requires pairing it with a keyboard case — Samsung provides choices with ($350) and with out ($200) trackpads — which is able to make the value of this already costly pill much more. At $1,400 to $1,500, you’re wanting on the worth of a properly geared up MacBook Air.

However in the event you do make that dedication, you is perhaps stunned at simply how a lot you may get executed with this pill. It’s all due to Samsung’s DeX characteristic, which replicates a desktop setting with free-form home windows such as you get on Home windows or macOS however operating Android.

In prior years, DeX got here with a whole lot of irritating limitations that stopped me from actually having the ability to depend on it. However now, Samsung has addressed lots of the points, akin to app compatibility, windowing, and enter, and I can use DeX to do the vast majority of my work with none issues.

In comparison with Apple’s Stage Supervisor characteristic on the iPad, DeX feels unchained. I can have as many home windows as I need open and place them wherever I need and in no matter measurement I need. I can have a number of browser home windows, a number of Google Docs home windows, and duties like music or video within the background whereas I work. I’ve received keyboard shortcuts (although not fairly sufficient and never in sufficient apps) and trackpad gestures and mouse help. I can plug it into a bigger show and lengthen all the pieces to that greater display whereas nonetheless utilizing the pill’s show.

They don’t even know what number of home windows I’ve open on the similar time right here.

The Tab S9 Extremely’s 14.6-inch show is greater than most laptop computer screens — and appears nicer besides. Its expansive measurement offers me the room I have to unfold my work out and never must always jostle between apps and home windows. Samsung’s built-in apps, most of Google’s apps, and Microsoft’s Workplace suite all take good benefit of the bigger display measurement with optimized layouts and options. Different apps, like Slack, Threads, and admittedly, most Android apps — which look foolish on tablets as a result of they aren’t optimized for the bigger display — run properly in contained home windows in DeX that permit them simply use their phone-size layouts. 

There are nonetheless some quirks right here, just like the occasional lack of ability to pick out textual content with the trackpad within the Google Docs app, and the Extremely doesn’t at all times keep in mind my window positions after I come again after not utilizing the pill for a couple of minutes. Nevertheless it actually shines with a small transportable mouse and permits me to do numerous issues I discover irritating on different tablets.

On the flip facet, the Tab S9 Extremely stinks for many different pill duties. It’s too large and heavy to carry in my palms for an prolonged time period, and its measurement makes it awkward to suit on an airplane tray desk and even some smaller luggage. It’s goofy to carry in portrait orientation and simply Too A lot after I need to learn a e book or article. It additionally takes up an excessive amount of room on my desk after I use it to take handwritten notes throughout a gathering.

The Extremely frustratingly doesn’t supply a mobile connectivity possibility

Samsung additionally solely goes midway with making it the last word transportable pc as a result of it doesn’t present any type of mobile connectivity possibility. (That possibility is surprisingly and frustratingly restricted to the Tab S9 Plus.) I used the Tab S9 Extremely on a prepare with my telephone as a hotspot, and the connection was a lot slower and fewer dependable than on an iPad I can join on to a 5G or LTE community. Battery life can also be lower than I get from a laptop computer when utilizing the Tab S9 Extremely in full-tilt DeX mode: it lasted about 5 or 6 hours on common earlier than I wanted to cost it up once more.

Typically, the Tab S9 Extremely feels a bit prefer it has an identification disaster — does it need to be a superb pill for media and leisure? Or does it need to be a killer productiveness machine? I believe it ought to lean into the latter, however Samsung nonetheless has a bit of labor to do to essentially fulfill that position.

Options:

  • Apple iPad Professional 12.9: higher app choice, cheaper price, brighter display, sooner processor, and mobile connectivity choices, however not almost as versatile of a desktop mode.
  • Lenovo Tab Excessive: related measurement and high quality display and audio system, and it consists of each a keyboard and pen for a similar worth as simply the Tab S9 Extremely pill. However its desktop mode pales compared to DeX, and its processor isn’t as highly effective. 

Galaxy Tab S9 Plus: the one to skip

How we fee and overview merchandise

The center-sized and mid-priced Galaxy Tab S9 Plus is a mixture of the worst features of the bigger Tab S9 Extremely and smaller Tab S9 with out actually offering a considerably higher expertise than both of them. It’s simply mid.

The 12.4-inch OLED display appears nice, however it’s not as roomy because the 14.5-inch display on the Extremely and too awkward to carry in your palms or use in portrait orientation. As a result of the usual Tab S9 comes with an OLED display this 12 months, you don’t must spring for the Plus mannequin simply to get that characteristic.

Sorry, T-Cell prospects, no mobile for you

The one factor the Tab S9 Plus holds over the opposite fashions is an possibility for mobile connectivity, which is one thing I believe each pill ought to supply (and is an possibility on each single iPad). However even right here, Samsung flubs it: it solely sells provider variations for AT&T, Verizon, and UScellular. In the event you’re a T-Cell buyer, sorry, I suppose, and you may’t even get an unlocked model right here within the US.

Mobile connectivity is definitely a distinct segment, and provided that the Tab S9 works higher as a pill and the Tab S9 Extremely works higher as a productiveness machine, I’m having bother discovering a motive for most individuals to go for the Tab S9 Plus.

Options:

  • Apple iPad Professional 12.9: higher app choice, brighter display, sooner processor, and has mobile choices. It’s barely costlier, nonetheless.
  • OnePlus Pad: lower than half the value, barely smaller and lower-quality display, slower processor, and never as succesful software program.

Maybe probably the most shocking factor concerning the Android pill story this 12 months is that you just don’t have to purchase a Samsung in any respect. Because of renewed efforts from Google and new entrants like OnePlus, there are extra Android tablets to select from than ever, and lots of of them are fairly succesful — and considerably cheaper than Samsung’s Tab S9 lineup.

However in the event you do decide to splurge on one of many Tab S9s, you’ll get a really performant pill with a superb display, nice audio system, and a whole lot of functionality. Simply go for the small one or the large one and skip the center row this 12 months.

Pictures by Dan Seifert / The Verge

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