Hands-On With Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 Tablets: Good, Better, and Best

The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is a massive 14.6 incher.

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9, Tab S9 Plus, and Tab S9 Ultra
Photograph by Raymond Wong

If new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Z Fold 5 foldable phones and Galaxy Watch 6 smartwatches aren’t your thing, can I interest you in some new Samsung Android tablets? Yes? Because Samsung’s got three flavors.

Available in good, better, and best models, the Galaxy Tab S9, Tab S9+, and Tab S9 Ultra deliver OLED screens and 120Hz refresh rates for budgets of all sizes, starting at $799.99.

I had some hands-on time with all three Tab S9 tablets and, well, they’re tablets. If you’ve been pining for OLED and 120Hz in a smaller size, the 11-inch Tab S9 is a good option. The showstopper, however, is the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. This massive 14.6-inch beast is not only thin but feature-packed.

There’s no doubt in my mind that the Tab S9 tablets can do regular tablet things well — web browsing, videos, games, etc. — but the hook this time around is to do them all better. Mostly, that means better multitasking when juggling multiple apps and using a keyboard or S Pen accessory.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Huge, Thin, and Powerful

The second I laid hands on the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, I was wowed by its gargantuan size. The 14.-6-inch tablet sucked me right in. I struggled to hold it with one hand; it’s absolutely a device that requires two hands.

I only had a short amount of time with the tablets, but several things caught my attention. Obviously, the size, but also the thinness. At 5.5mm, the Tab S9 Ultra is wafer thin for a tablet, but not so cheaply made that it feels bendable. It’s like Samsung ripped the screen off of a 14-inch laptop. In portrait mode, for reading, the Tab S9 Ultra is just ridiculous (in a good way).

Multitasking on the giant Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is so much easier than on smaller screens.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Its giant screen also made it much easier to open two or three apps at once. I could see no latency bopping around Android 13, no doubt thanks to the powerful “Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy” chip. With the Book Cover Keyboard, DeX Mode, long a staple on Samsung tablets, works more like a PC than any iPad (even with Stage Manager). And, of course, you can throw an S Pen into the mix if you’re into hand-writing notes or drawing; both worked fine in my brief tests.

Samsung’s pretty proud of the 20 percent larger quad speakers tuned by the sound folks at AKG. I gave a few videos a listen at full blast and they definitely rattled the svelte tablet.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

Shooting photos with the ultra-wide selfie camera is so silly, but fun.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

All three Tab S9 tablets have IP68 water and dust resistance. But I wasn’t able to test that claim. Samsung, sadly, didn’t have any water tanks to dunk the tablets in.

The dual-lens camera system on the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

I’ll reserve judgment when I get some time to review the S9 tablets, but they’re promising. Such is the state of Android tablets. There’s a reboot in the Android tablet world — hello OnePlus Pad and Pixel Tablet — but Samsung’s still the undisputed king of Android tablets. The Galaxy Tab S9 tablets will likely keep Samsung on top from what I saw.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

The Tab S9 Ultra runs Android 13 with Samsung’s own One UI 5 software touches.

Photograph by Raymond Wong

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