Size isn’t the issue with a tablet like the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9+, though you may have to consider the cost and how long you plan to keep it. The Tab S9+ sits in the middle of the latest trio of Android tablets from Samsung, with the Tab S9 Ultra on the high end and regular Tab S9 on the lower end.
All three are high-end premium devices, so there’s no real major step down here, but as the proverbial “middle child”, the Tab S9+ is an interesting choice. It offers so much of what the Ultra does, yet feels like an upgrade over its regular sibling. Either way, it’s a big tablet that comes with the S Pen, opening a few doors to what you can do with it.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9+ (as tested):
Looking at the Galaxy Tab S9+
My recent experience has been more with the Ultra devices, so I was pleased to see a different review unit come in to gauge the differences. The 12.4-inch Dynamic AMOLED screen is smaller than the Ultra’s 14.6-inch panel, but nothing about this device feels small. Lightweight, sure—and even thin—but it also comes very close to a standard laptop display. That’s partly by design with the magnetic connectors at the bottom capable of hooking up with a keyboard to turn it into a laptop alternative.
I’m not convinced the device is good enough to replace a laptop outright, quite honestly. The real utility, at least for me, lies in the S Pen and the sheer size of the screen. I had a wonderful time editing photos and gaming on it, much like I did watching shows and movies. In that sense, the Tab S9+ isn’t all that surprising because it’s built to do all those things with aplomb.
Powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, plus 12GB of RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of storage, the Galaxy Tab S9+ has the beastly credentials to perform. The gorgeous display is the real head-turner, though, and so easy on the eyes that you will probably appreciate the quality of anything you see on it. Rich colours and excellent contrast ratios make for what can only be described as a beautiful canvas. The real question is what to do with it. One thing you could do is take it with you in the pool or tub, thanks to the IP68 protection.
Aside from the USB-C charging port, power and volume buttons, and four AKG-tuned speakers pump out good sound with Dolby Atmos support. A 12-megapixel front camera also carries over from the previous Tab S8+, maintaining some continuity.
Using the S Pen
You don’t necessarily have to know how to draw or paint to make good use of the pen. I found it convenient to just navigate the tablet with it, but found its best use (for me) for photo-editing precision. It’s a shame there isn’t a full version of Photoshop available on Android, as that would really make things interesting. As before, I got way more mileage using apps like Lightroom and Canva.
You will find all of Samsung’s own apps or integrations for the pen, so you get a good foundation to start. The only challenge is finding Android apps that benefit greatly from the experience. They’re out there, trust me, only you have to sift through Google Play to figure out the best ones for what you want to do. Some games, including first-person shooters that work with touch controls, work well because the pen lets you more precisely aim for what you want to hit.
If you’re familiar with the Galaxy Tab series, especially those with the S Pen, there’s no learning curve at all. This pen is basically the same as last year’s, including a slight indent in the tablet’s rear to magnetically attach the pen to charge. It’s okay, but I wouldn’t trust the pen to stay securely in place, which is why a case with a holster may be the best way to go when taking the pen along. It shares the same rugged IP68 water resistance as last year’s model.
In keeping with familiar trends, this S Pen also works with Samsung’s smartphones (that also have S Pen support), like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, or S22 Ultra, but not the Galaxy Z Fold series, which require special S Pens.
Performance of the Galaxy Tab S9+
I didn’t get a keyboard to test the Galaxy Tab S9+ as a laptop alternative, but certain things already make that a tough proposition. The Snapdragon chipset is robust, just not on par with what a typical laptop would run on. DeX remains as a PC-equivalent desktop, plus neat features like Link to Windows, Smart View and Second Screen, all of which are optimized for Windows PCs, not Macs.
I suspect it’s what Android offers that will be the big determining factor for assessing what the Tab S9+ truly is. The good news is that’s pretty open-ended depending on where you stand with both productivity and content consumption. I would not recommend getting a tablet like this for kids, simply because of the cost and the fact they aren’t likely to benefit from this specific model anyway. The regular Tab S9 shares the same features and is a notable step down in price.
Speaking for myself, I used this tablet a lot like I used last year’s Tab S8 Ultra, which is to say I worked on a lot of photos, read ebooks, read comic books, played games, watched video content, jotted down notes, browsed the web, and more. I appreciated the versatility in doing various things with the device, I just didn’t have the opportunity to truly try it out as something more. It’s possible to pair it with any Bluetooth keyboard and mouse, except Android apps don’t always play nice with that kind of setup.
Hence, when you go with a tablet like this, you’re probably doing it because you want it to last a long time. The Tab S9+ should have no problem there, given the quality involved, and as Android continues to improve on the tablet side, there’s still room for this device’s viability.
A bigger screen usually comes at the sacrifice of the battery. Samsung won’t say how much you can expect per charge, so what I can tell you is that you should have no issue getting through a full day with the Galaxy Tab S9+. Based on mixed usage—the most likely scenario most days—the tablet should give you over 10 hours without much trouble. Screen brightness is another factor, as is volume, since the speakers have some power, but all told, I didn’t have to recharge the device more often than expected.
There’s no charger in the box (you get a cable), so if you have a 65W or 45W charger, you can fill it up from empty in just 90 minutes. The tablet can also charge wirelessly, as wel as charge other devices when you lay them down on the back as well.
Final thoughts on the Galaxy Tab S9+
When I reviewed the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra last year, I recommended it based on its dual purpose of producing and consuming content. The Galaxy Tab S9+ isn’t all that different. There is no reason to upgrade if you already have any of the Tab S8 devices, considering little has changed. If it’s been years since you’ve upgraded tablets, however, this one won’t disappoint. It’s fast, powerful, versatile and primed for improvements in the software.
Throw in the S Pen into the mix, and it adds to the possibilities. You just have to weigh all that with the cost of entry in getting the device in your hands. It’s also worth looking at any of the Tab S8 models as cheaper alternatives if your needs are modest.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9+ is available now in graphite and beige.