Zit Seng's Blog

A Singaporean's technology and lifestyle blog

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9+

Samsung has launched a full suite of Galaxy Tab S-series tablets this year. This includes three sizes of the premium edition Galaxy Tab S9 tablets, and two more fan edition Galaxy Tab S9 FE tablets. I’ve been test-driving the premium mid-sized Galaxy Tab S9+, and I’m liking it a lot.

Samsung has made sure they’ve covered every screen-size preference, and also accommodated those who may want a slightly more affordable tablet. At the premium level, you can get the base Galaxy Tab S9 with a 11-inch display, the Galaxy Tab S9+ with a 12.4-inch display, or the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra with 14.6-inch display. The fan edition has the Galaxy Tab S9 FE with 10.9-inch display, and Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ with 12.4-inch display. All versions come with or without 5G.

Do check out my previous view of the Galaxy Tab S8, because the Galaxy Tab S9+ is largely an evolution of Samsung’s older Galaxy Tab S-series tablets. (Pictured below, Galaxy Tab S8 on left, Galaxy Tab S9+ on right.)

The Galaxy Tab S9+ is sized right in-between too big and too small. The 14.6-inch Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra sits well in the laptop category, while the base 11-inch Galaxy Tab S9 may be just a tad too small, especially if you need decent screen space to work with.

I’ve been using a tablet as a casual laptop replacement, and to me, the 12.4-inch Galaxy Tab S9+ is perfectly sized. I can use it for productive work, and can enjoy some immersive entertainment, without feeling like I’m taking a laptop around.

As far as specs are concerned, the Galaxy Tab S9+ has everything very well covered. The beautiful AMOLED display has 1752 x 2800 resolution (266 PPI density), supports 60 and 120 Hz refresh, HDR10+, and covered by Corning Gorilla Glass. The 16:10 aspect ratio is typical of what you get on laptop these days.

The display is simply gorgeous. The AMOLED makes for very vibrant colours and totally deep blacks. Whatever you’re looking at on the Galaxy Tab S9+ just looks so much better.

Cameras are often less important on tablets than on smartphones. The Galaxy Tab S9+, however, still offers a dual-camera setup with 13 MP wide and 8 MP ultra-wide cameras that can take decent photos in a pinch.

The selfie-camera on the front has 12 MP, 120° field of view, and works great for online calls. Both this and the main camera shoot 4K or 1080p videos at 30 fps.

The AKG speaker system with Dolby Atmos surround sound on the Galaxy Tab S9+ are excellent. It’s sounds better than what you’d find in most laptops. Despite the small tablet size, sound is surprisingly full and rich. For music or for movies, this tablet is absolutely a joy to listen to.

The speaker positions are also correct for using the tablet in landscape orientation, perfect for watching movies and immersing in the audio experience.

For biometric login, there is an optical under-display fingerprint scanner. I personally prefer to have the fingerprint scanner embedded in the power button, but this works just fine.

The S Pen stylus comes included with the tablet, and it continues to be an excellent accessory. It is IP68 water-resistant, just like the tablet itself. It supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, and has tilt support, which is especially good for sketching and illustrations.

The stylus attaches magnetically to the top of the edge of the tablet, or on a charging strip on the back. Interesting to know, the S Pen uses a super-capacitor as a battery, rather than a typical lithium-ion battery. The super-capacitor doesn’t hold a lot of charge, so you will find it needs recharging more frequently than a typical lithium-ion battery. However, it also gets charged very quickly. Charging is also supper convenient since you can just leave the S Pen on the back of the tablet.

Don’t worry about the stylus running out of power. The S Pen only requires power for off-tablet gesture support, which you can use to control media playback, advance presentation slides, or adjust volume. You can still use the stylus to write, tap, and for hover-over-the-screen actions, without any power.

The writing experience with the S Pen on the Galaxy Tab S9+ is totally awesome. The S Pen’s low 2.8 ms latency and display’s fast 120 Hz refresh rate makes it feel like ink really flows out of the stylus’ tip onto the screen. The soft rubber tip of the S Pen glides over the glass display with just the right amount of friction to feel like sharpie on a whiteboard. Writing with the S Pen feels very natural. In fact, the S Pen is so fun to use that I find myself using it even when it suffices to just use my fingers.

Under the hood, the Galaxy Tab S9+ is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 with 12 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of storage. (The 512 GB storage option is not available in Singapore but may be found in other markets.)

There is a microSD slot, so you can easily add expandable storage if the onboard 256 GB is insufficient.

The 10,090 mAh battery is plentiful, enabling the Galaxy Tab S9+ to run all day without having to worry about needing a charger.

The Galaxy Tab S9+ ships with One UI 5.1 running Android 13. Samsung promises four years of Android OS updates, i.e. up to Android 17, and five years of security updates. This ensures you have quite a number of years of software support, at least unti 2028.

I’ve found myself liking One UI. It’s not just a skin over Android, but software that adds useful features that makes the tablet better. Samsung’s multitasking features go way beyond what Google provides in Android. DeX mode, in particular, a feature that offers a desktop-like experience on the tablet, is totally awesome. This is a whole aspect of the tablet experience that Google needs to learn from Samsung.

There is too much to say about DeX mode for this post, but I need to mention a few things. First, unlike on Samsung smartphones, the DeX mode can be experienced on the tablet itself, given that its larger display makes it practical to offer a desktop OS experience. You can also connect to an external display, either via the USB Type-C connector or wirelessly. In wired mode, the external display can mirror or extend the display of the tablet. With a wireless connection, the external display will run in DeX mode, while the tablet itself still runs with the usual Android mobile experience.

The Galaxy Tab S9+ comes with a docking connection for use with Samsung’s keyboard covers. There are two styles available, and while they are somewhat pricey on their own, you may find an attractive bundle on sale that includes the keyboard with the tablet.

I’ve found the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9+ tablet to be an all-round excellent premium Android tablet. It’s the Android answer to Apple’s iPads. The Galaxy Tab S9+ fits perfectly between the base Galaxy Tab S9 which is a tad small, yet not too big like the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. It has powerful hardware, matched by very capable software, enabling you to get lots of things done with the tablet, easily replacing casual use cases of a laptop.

Samsung retails the Galaxy Tab S9+ (256 GB storage option only available in Singapore) at $1,588 for the 5G model, and $1,388 for the Wi-Fi only model. This currently comes with a free Tab S9+ Book Cover Keyboard Slim and Galaxy Buds2 (valued at $508). They have generous trade-in and overtrade bonus available. It is available in Graphite (as reviewed in this post) and Beige colour.

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