The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series of slates remain the apex Android tablets in the market with prices to match. For those seeking similarly sized tablets with more modest prices, the new Galaxy Tab S9 FE aka Fan Edition tablets offer a similar user experience and much of its capabilities without costing an arm and a leg.
We managed to get our hands on a sample at launch for review. Here’s our Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus first look where we give it a quick onceover to see what Samsung has under the hood after having it for a week.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus First Look – Build and Design
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is intended as a more affordable option compared to the top of the line Galaxy Tab S9 Plus with modest concessions to hardware while retaining as much of its user experience and features as possible.
Where the more premium Galaxy Tab S9 Plus clocks in at RM4,599 for the base WiFi only model with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage, the new Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus that we have in for review with a WiFi only, 12GB RAM and 256GB storage only configuration costs just RM3,099 which is a substantial RM1,500 difference.
A smaller Galaxy Tab S9 FE is also available for those who need a more compact tablet which has a similar processor as the larger Tab S9 FE Plus as well as WiFi and 5G options along with a smaller display and battery.
At first blush, our Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus first look sample looks akin to the more premium Galaxy Tab S9 Plus, with both embracing a similar design language that features clean lines with gently rounded corners that lend it an elegant, minimalist look that makes it premium indeed.
In fact, both tablets have similar enough dimensions that Galaxy Tab S9 Plus accessories like the keyboard cover case are compatible with the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus. However, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is slightly heavier at 627g and uses standard aluminium and glass versus the more premium Armor Aluminum and Corning Gorilla Glass in the Galaxy Tab S9 FE.
Out of the box, you get the tablet itself inset in a paper sleeve, an S Pen stylus, a SIM eject pin, the usual warranty paperwork and a USB-C charging cable. Bundling a free stylus with the tablet is a welcome bonus rather than having to fork out for it separately unlike some other comparing brands.
The backplate of our Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus first look sample is done up in a metallic gunmetal grey with symmetrical antenna bands on the sides. Emplaced in a corner is a dual 8MP camera array capable of up to 4K video capture.
The rear also has a series of magnets located just alongside the camera array that allows users to dock the bundled S Pen stylus. If Grey doesn’t quite appeal the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus also comes in a pastel shade of Mint, a shinier shade of Silver and Samsung’s signature Lavender colourway.
Intended to be used primarily in landscape mode, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus hosts a power button that doubles as a fingerprint reader and volume rocker as well as a microSD card tray up top with the base of the tablet hosting a set of pogo pins to interact with a keyboard case, should you happen to have one.
The sides feature an almost symmetrical layout though the right side, which ends up as the base of the tablet if you hold it in portrait mode, hosts a USB-C port for charging and docking duties.
In terms of hardware, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus hosts a 12.4-inch IPS LCD display with 1,600 x 2,560 pixels resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate. Rather than the traditional 16:9 aspect ratio, the display is a taller 16:10 aspect ratio which makes it ideal for browsing through websites and processing paperwork.
At first blush, the display is lusciously vibrant to the eye and made the Loki season 2 trailers look fantastic while a quick whirl in Call of Duty Mobile saw it handle a firefight smoothly even with multiple combatants onscreen.
Build quality for our Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is top notch and the tablet itself hosts a robust IP68 dust and water resistance rating that enables it to survive in up to 1.5 metres of fresh water for up to 30 minutes while resisting dust ingress.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus First Look – Specifications
Aesthetics aside, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus is functionally similar to the smaller Galaxy Tab S9 FE save for a larger display, a bigger battery and which has a more capable dual camera array; the latter has a simple single camera setup.
Running under the hood of our Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus first look sample is an Exynos 1380 processor that’s built on a 5nm process and running the latest Android 13 with One UI 5.1.1.
Astute readers will note that this is the very same chipset powering the midrange Galaxy A54 phone that we reviewed awhile back. The slate also has support for fast WiFi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 out of the box and while our Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus first look sample is a WiFi only variant, you can also acquire it with 5G connectivity for a slightly higher price.
The processor is paired with 12GB RAM along with 256Gb of expandable storage with additional space acquired via a microSD card tray that supports cards up to 1TB in size. A variant of the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus also exists with just 8GB RAM and 128GB storage in WiFi only and 5G capable configurations.
Flanking the display are stereo speakers tuned by AKG and they sounded pleasant when played with a selection of contemporary pop tunes. Keeping the tablet powered is a huge 10,090mAh battery with 45W wired fast charging. Unfortunately, one concession to cost is that the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus lacks both wireless and reverse wireless charging.
Out of the box, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus looks favourably specced compared to the competition though where it gets the edge is its provision of a bundled free S Pen stylus, Samsung’s solid 4 years of OS updates and 5 years of security update policy as well as the ability to use DeX mode on the tablet itself which adds to its utility as a general purpose workhorse.
For the uninitiated, DeX mode enables users to reboot the tablet and enjoy a desktop-style interface along with the option to wirelessly cast the menu to a display or using a HDMI cable to enjoy a user experience akin to a PC. Stay tuned for updates as we suss out if its combination of good looks and finely tuned hardware are worth your money in our full Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review!
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus first look sample courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. For more details and to purchase please visit https://www.samsung.com/my/tablets/galaxy-tab-s9-fe/buy/