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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: Should you buy it?


Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is a great tablet for those who want a premium experience without the high-end price. It cuts the right corners without sacrificing on a smooth One UI experience or ditching conveniences like speedy 45W charging.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: At a glance

  • What is it? The Galaxy Tab S9 FE is a mid-range Samsung tablet with a 12.4-inch display. It slots in as the company’s largest Fan Edition tablet to date and carries an Exynos 1380 chipset backed by up to 12GB of RAM and a 10,090mAh battery.
  • What is the price? You can pick up the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus for $599 with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage or upgrade to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage for $699.
  • Where can you buy it? The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus went on sale on October 16, 2023. It’s available directly from Samsung or retailers like Best Buy and Amazon.
  • How did we test it? I tested the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus for three weeks. The review unit was supplied by Samsung for this review.
  • Is it worth it? If you want a well-built tablet with plenty of screen real estate for day-to-day use, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus fits the bill. It offers a refined One UI experience with punchy speakers and a comfortable S Pen, and its IP68 rating provides ample durability. That said, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus finds itself in a trickier position when priced against other tablets with optional 5G or more powerful processors.

Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus streaming x files

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

After skipping over the Galaxy Tab S8 extended family, Samsung’s Fan Edition tablet is back. Only, this time, it’s not a single slate — there are now two Galaxy Tab S9 FE models to choose from. You can pick up the standard 10.9-inch Galaxy Tab S9 FE or stretch your screen real estate further with the new 12.4-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus. The two tablets share many of the same specs, so the best way to jump into the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is to see how it differs from its flagship cousin, the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus.

First and foremost, not all Samsung displays are created equal. While both the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus and Galaxy Tab S9 Plus have 12.4-inch displays, that’s about where the similarities stop. Samsung’s mid-range Fan Edition slate packs a 90Hz LCD panel, while its premium offering carries a 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2x panel instead. The flagship Galaxy Tab S9 Plus — one of the best Android tablets you can buy — offers a higher resolution, too, packing 1,752 x 2,800 pixels instead of the Tab S9 FE Plus’ 1,600 x 2,560. Despite the gap in resolution, I never felt like the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus’ display came up short. It still delivered accurate colors when I was catching up on The Fall of The House of Usher on Netflix, and the 90Hz refresh rate kept light games like Ultimate Golf running smoothly.

Mentioning running smoothly, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus’ other significant changes come under the hood. It swaps Qualcomm’s overclocked Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor for Samsung’s in-house Exynos 1380 chipset — the same one found on the Samsung Galaxy A54 5G, and more powerful than the processors on the Galaxy Tab A series. However, there’s no option for 5G support on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus; you’ll have to grab the smaller Galaxy Tab S9 FE for that. Samsung’s larger Fan Edition tablet drops to lower default RAM and storage than its flagship relative, too. You can choose from either 8GB and 128GB or 12GB and 256GB, respectively, and there’s a microSD slot should you need more space.

Despite its internal differences and display tweaks, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus doesn’t skimp on Samsung’s flagship build quality; it feels almost identical to the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus in hand (I reviewed that, too), pairing a durable aluminum construction and resilient IP68 rating. My Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus arrived in a soft mint green finish, which is pleasant on a tablet. It’s barely green in certain lighting, sometimes looking more like a light silver aluminum. Its buttons lie in the same positions as the full-spec Galaxy Tab S9 Plus, with the fingerprint reader lying inside the power button on the top edge and the volume rockers next to it. The main difference around the frame is that Samsung dropped two of its four stereo speakers. They still achieve impressive volume with minimal distortion at the top end; they’re just easier to accidentally cover with your hand.

Like most Galaxy Tab models, the Fan Edition S9 Plus has an S Pen in the box. It attaches magnetically to the back of the tablet and is comfortable to use when you don’t want to stretch your hands across the sweeping 12.4-inch display. I don’t think it matches the remarkably low 2.8ms latency of the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus, but it’s still a solid stylus, and the flat edge is comfortable to rest a finger on for guidance.

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus cuts the right corners but nails the overall tablet experience.

Truth be told, most people aren’t looking at Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus in hopes that it can match the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus at every corner. They’re looking at it as a way to get solid performance out of a well-built tablet in their everyday life. On that front, it delivers. I’ve had no issues using the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus casually throughout my few weeks of testing, with a pretty even blend of light gaming and video streaming. Samsung’s Exynos 1380 is up to par in games like Ultimate Golf and has enough gas for Asphalt 9, which is about as far as my tablet-based gaming goes.

If there’s one thing missing from Samsung’s mid-range chipset, it’s 5G connectivity. The Exynos 1380 can support high-end speeds — it powers the Galaxy A54 5G, after all — but Samsung elected to limit its 5G option to the smaller Galaxy Tab S9 FE. As if to make it more confusing, that’s the opposite of its flagship tablet setup, where the larger Galaxy Tab S9 Plus supports 5G, but the smaller Galaxy Tab S9 does not. Go figure.

Also, like Samsung’s mid-range Galaxy A54 5G, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus shipped with Android 13 onboard and the One UI 5.1.1 skin on top. Samsung delivers one of the better tablet-based Android skins, with the taskbar making it much easier to manage the sweeping display. Multitasking adapts nicely to the 12.4-inch panel, too, though I prefer it in landscape orientation over portrait so I can reach an app with each hand. Samsung is committed to keeping its Fan Edition tablets current for a while, with four full Android updates and five years of security patches. That should carry the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus to Android 17 and the year 2028.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus home screen ultimate golf

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

The other key to longevity on the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is its battery life. Like the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus packs a solid 10,090mAh battery. I had no issues making it through a few days of sporadic usage before reaching for a charger, which is about what I’d expect. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus was my go-to display for streaming horror movies through October, and I managed to rewatch The Thing and The Shining (both excellent) as well as The Nun 2 (not excellent) with a few prolonged gaming intermissions before needing to reach for a charger. When you need to recharge, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus supports 45W wired speeds with a compatible USB PD PPS block.

Ultimately, if you want a large-screen tablet that feels solid and offers a great software experience, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus checks the boxes. It offers most of the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus experience for around 70% of the price tag and will receive just as many software updates and security patches as the more expensive slate, even if they don’t roll out as quickly. It’s not quite priced among the best cheap Android tablets, but it’s closer than Samsung’s $1,000 options. The only question is whether the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus makes as much sense when put up against the best of OnePlus, Apple, and even Google, and I’m not sure the answer is as clean-cut.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE PlusSamsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus
AA Recommended

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus

Premium build quality • Included S Pen • Speedy charging

A powerful 12.4-inch Android tablet

Equipped with a 12.4-inch WQXGA display, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is a capable Android tablet. Designed for all-day use, a 10,090mAh battery and fast charging keep the lights on. 8GB or 12GB of RAM is backed by an Exynos SoC, and 128GB or 256GB of storage can be expanded with support for 1TB microSD cards.

What are the best Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus alternatives?

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus vs other galaxy tabs standing

Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you’re in the market for a new tablet, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus makes up only a tiny sliver of your options. There are plenty of others, including both Android options and iPads, to choose from. After all, Samsung’s $599 base price puts the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus in contention with rivals above and below its price point. Here are just a few other tablets that might meet your needs:

  • Apple iPad Air (M1) ($559 at Amazon): Apple’s iPad Air M1 is perhaps the perfect foil to the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus, given its identical base price. However, there are plenty of tradeoffs to consider. The 2022 iPad Air model does offer a more performant M1 chip, though it comes at the cost of less base RAM and storage. It does, however, have the advantage of iPadOS’ superior app support and generally more mature tablet software.
  • OnePlus Pad ($479 at OnePlus): The OnePlus Pad is smaller and more affordable than the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus, but it punches up. It delivers a blistering 144Hz refresh rate and 67W wired charging — neither of which Samsung can match. It’s not quite as refined as the Tab S9 FE overall, but if you value power over polish, it’s a great pick.
  • Google Pixel Tablet ($499 at Amazon): Google’s Pixel Tablet offers something a bit different than Samsung’s budget slate — it’s both a tablet and a smart home hub. The Pixel Tablet runs on a Tensor G2 and has a convenient stand that turns it into a portable Nest Hub, though we found it works better as a smaller-sized tablet than a smart display.
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus ($999 at Amazon): If you decide that the Fan Edition tablet doesn’t pack enough punch, the best answer is to go full speed. Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 Plus costs a bit more, but it bumps to a higher-quality display and a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus specs

Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus

Display

12.4-inch WQXGA
2560 x 1600
90Hz
LCD

Processor

Samsung Exynos 1380

RAM

8GB/12GB

Storage

128GB/256GB
microSD (up to 1TB)

GPU

Arm Mali-G68

Audio

AKG Tuned Dual Speakers with Dolby Atmos Support

Cameras

Rear:
8MP main
8MP UW

Front:
12MP UW

Power

Li-ion 10,090mAh

S Pen

Included

Durability

IP68 rating

Authentication

Fingerprint sensor (Power Key)

Software

Android 13

Dimensions / weight

11.24″ x 7.30″ x 0.26″
626g

Colors

Gray, Silver, Mint, and Lavender

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review: FAQ

No, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus does not come with a keyboard. However, you can purchase one separately for around $200 or use a keyboard compatible with the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus.

Yes, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus’ large display, solid battery life, and included S Pen make it a good option for all forms of digital art. If you plan to use the tablet for creation, you may want to look at upgrading to Samsung’s optional S Pen Creator Edition.

It you stick to mainly social media and video streaming on your laptop, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus might be a good alternative. That said, if you want to get into more intense gaming or video editing, you may find that you need more power than the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus offers.

No, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus does not support SIM cards of any kind. However, it does have a microSD slot in case you want to boost your storage.



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