Launched at the same time as their flagship foldables the Galaxy Z Fold5 and Galaxy Z Flip5 at Galaxy Unpacked 2023, the Galaxy Tab S9 series aims to be the ultimate Android slates with huge displays, scads of power and a form factor that’s slimmer than a fashion magazine to boot.
We managed to get our hands on their largest sized variant for a whirl around the block for the past couple of weeks and took it around our usual work commute. Here’s our Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review where we share if their largest and priciest tablet is worth your money!
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Build and Design
Table of Contents
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is the largest out of the trio of new tablets that Samsung released at Galaxy Unpacked 2023 with a massive 14.6-inch display that puts quite a few laptops to shame in terms of its sheer size and display quality.
Slightly lower down the totem pole in terms of size is the Galaxy Tab S9+ with a 12.4-inch display and the Galaxy Tab S9 with its modest 11-inch display. Regardless of size, all of the new Galaxy Tab S9 series use the same Dynamic AMOLED 2X 120Hz touch displays sheathed in Corning Gorilla Glass.
@hitechcentury We get a firsthand look at every single new product launched at Samsung Galaxy Unpacked Korea 2023 in every colour and their accessories too. The new range consists of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5, Galaxy Z Flip5, the Galaxy Watch6 and Watch6 Classic and the Galaxy Tab S9 tablets that come in 3 sizes! #samsung #galaxyzfold5 #galaxyzflip5 #galaxywatch6 #galaxyunpacked2023 #samsungunpacked #jointheflipside #kitacreators #malaysia #fyp #hitechcentury #tech #techtok #sembanggadget #longervideos #tiktokcreators ♬ France Accordion Swing – MIZUSATO Masaki
Compared to its predecessor the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, our Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review sample is slightly heavier at 732g and has a similarly sized but brighter display, a more powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor with a dedicated vapour chamber to better vent heat and features a magnetised slot at the rear for the bundled S Pen to charge wirelessly.
Where it surpasses its predecessor is that the tablet has an IP68 dust and water resistance rating, making it one of the first tablets to be able to survive a dunking for up to 30 minutes in up to 1.5 metres of fresh water. Bar these upgrades, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has a similar dual camera array on the front (12MP + 12MP) and rear (13MP + 8MP) as well as a similarly sized 11,200mAh battery with 45W wired charging.
Out of the box, our Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review sample comes with the tablet itself, a bundled S Pen stylus, a USB-C charging cable and, for the Malaysia market, a bundled keyboard case that comes with a touchpad for selected variants.
The addition of a free bundled S Pen and a keyboard case with the tablet substantially adds to its value seeing though the omission of a charger is a bit of a sore point. Unfortunately, it’s the norm now for brands to omit it from their tablets and phones.
In terms of design, our Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review unit makes for an eye catching design as it’s only 5.5mm thin – that’s barely the thickness of a magazine – while featuring an absolutely massive 14.6-inch touchscreen display up front with narrow bezels all around. Perched up top in a wedge-shaped cutout are a pair of 12MP cameras for selfies and video calls.
Fortunately, the tablet is anything but flimsy as it is hewn from Armor Aluminum, Samsung’s proprietary compound that’s tougher than the standard issued aluminium used in competing devices and which is more resistant to nicks and dents.
While the tablet is slim, it feels extremely sturdy with an even heft though it is unwieldy to hold one handed. The entirety of the backplate is a brushed dark metal shade of graphite that repels fingerprints nicely and hosts a dual camera array in the corner that consists of a 13MP primary camera and an 8MP ultra wide angle camera.
Even with the provision of Corning Gorilla Glass and Armor Aluminum, it’s still a prudent measure to use it with its provided keyboard case in order to avoid potential mishaps though we weren’t issued one for this review and used the tablet purely on its own.
As an added measure of protection, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra also has an IP68 dust and water resistance rating, a feature which its predecessor lacks. However, its bundled keyboard case does not have an IP68 rating so some care still needs to be taken to protect the whole affair from the elements.
Intended to be used primarily in landscape mode, the tablet also hosts a quad speaker array tuned by AKG and which is Dolby Atmos certified. The slate hosts two speakers on each side with the base holding a set of pogo pins to connect to the keyboard case. The right side also hosts a USB-C port for charging flanked by the aforementioned speakers while the left side is otherwise plain save for the aforementioned pair of speakers.
Up top, the tablet hosts a power button and volume rocker along with a tray for slotting in microSD cards up to 1TB in size to augment the onboard storage. While our Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review unit is a WiFi only model, you can also acquire it with 5G connectivity as well for an additional RM650.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Specifications and Performance
In terms of hardware, our Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review sample is armed for bear and is arguably the most powerful and largest Android tablet that money can currently buy in Malaysia. You get the Samsung-exclusive Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor that’s clocked faster than a stock Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, 12GB RAM and either 256GB or 512GB of storage.
To further augment the onboard RAM, users can opt to enable RAMPlus which assigns storage as virtual RAM in 2GB increments from a minimum of 2GB all the way to 8GB for a grand total of a whopping 20GB RAM which is staggering by any measure. Much like the Galaxy S23 Ultra, Samsung has also kitted out the tablet with a large vapour chamber to better vent heat away from the processor for sustained heavy use.
For firmware, the tablet runs the latest Android 13 operating system with Samsung’s own OneUI 5.1.1 overlay with guaranteed OS updates for the next 4 years and up to 5 years of security updates which, to date, remains among the best update policies in the market.
Better yet, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra can activate a native version of Samsung’s DeX mode on its large display to enjoy a desktop-like interface similar to a PC. While Samsung’s other flagship devices like the Galaxy S23 series and the Fold5 have this feature baked in, it only kicks in when paired and casting to an external display.
In effect, this allows the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra to act in much the same fashion as a PC in tandem with the keyboard case. However, it isn’t a direct analogue to Windows as it is still Android running under the hood and has its own slightly different way of managing files.
Apps are also sourced off the Google Play store though the important ones like Microsoft 365 are available for productivity tasks with Canva, LumaFusion, Adobe Lightroom and several other analogues available for video editing and graphics editing tasks. Here’s how the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra’s official spec sheet looks like:
|Price||RM6,499 (512GB WiFi) RM5,999 (256GB WiFi – Reviewed), RM6,649 (256GB 5G), RM7,149 (512GB 5G)|
|Display||14.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 1,848 x 2,960 pixels, 16:10 aspect ratio, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+|
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy|
|OS||Android 13 w/ One UI 5.1|
|Memory||12GB RAM/ 512GB or 256GB (Reviewed) storage w/ microSD card|
|Cameras||13MP F/2.0 + 8MP F/2.2 ultrawide angle [rear] / 12MP F/2.2 + 12MP F/2.4 ultra wide angle [front]|
|Battery||11,200mAh w/45W wired charging|
|Size/Weight||326.4 x 208.6 x 5.5mm / 732g (tablet only)|
With this array of hardware, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has the kind of pixel crunching performance capable of carving through any task asked of a tablet including intensive video editing and demanding games like Genshin Impact. When subjected to synthetic benchmarks, our Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review unit scored the following:
|3DMark Wild Life||Maxed out|
|3DMark Wild Life Unlimited||14,747|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme||3,701|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited||3,695|
|Geekbench 6 Single core||2,126|
|Geekbench 6 Multi core||5,705|
|Geekbench 6 Vulkan||9,526|
|Geekbench 6 OpenCL||9,455|
|PCMark Work 3.0||15.231|
|PCMark Battery Life||12 hours, 7 min|
|3D Mark Solar Bay||5,626|
|3D Mark Solar Bay Unlimited||5,611|
In terms of synthetic benchmarks, our Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra’s generous 12GB RAM combined with the full allocation of 8GB of RAMPlus virtual RAM along with the powerful Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy offers impressive results across the board.
The Galaxy Z Flip5 has the same powerful chipset but is easily outpaced by what the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has to offer with the Galaxy Z Fold5 roughly keeping face. The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra also outpaces last year’s Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra and its Snapdragon 8 Gen 1 CPU by a significant margin though there are slight differences between benchmarks as the new Geekbench 6 benchmark totes up multi-core scores differently and uses new tests and datasets more in keeping with current device usage.
Without the provided keyboard case, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra acts more as a huge media consumption device for watching shows and reading ebooks on the go.
Gaming is indeed possible though the large size of the display means that a learning curve is required even for familiar games as the controls are spaced farther apart. If you have a wireless keyboard and mouse as well as a tablet stand handy, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra does work as a PC analogue of sorts for paperwork and it works especially well if your workflow is oriented towards Android apps..
The large 14.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel on our Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review sample earns high marks for its brightness, vibrant colour rendition and detail that are visible even outdoors. Of note is that the display also integrates Samsung’s Vision Booster tech with the ability to intelligently adjust screen brightness and colour rendition for best results even under daylight. Even under direct sunlight, the display looks viewable and a delight to watch though you’ll still get best results indoors away from the glare.
In tandem with its gorgeous display, the quad speaker array which are tuned by AKG and which are Dolby Atmos-certified kick out a delightful amount of sound and can be cranked to maximum without distortion for music, gaming and shows alike.
Unfortunately, the nature of its design means that the speakers tend to get muffled if you hold it in landscape mode with both hands; this works best if it’s propped up on its own such as with the keyboard case.
The provided SPen stylus responded much in the fashion of a real pen, delivering thicker , more intense strokes when pressed down and lighter strokes when skimmed across on the display. In skilled hands, it can be used for illustrations and content creation though day to day users will more likely appreciate its ability to annotate and sign documents for work.
While cameras on tablets are typically afterthoughts on account of the unwieldy nature of taking shots with something the size of a serving plate, the rear dual cameras are serviceable for the odd shot or two and the front cameras are more than sufficient for videocalls.
In terms of battery life, the tablet performed like a champ. Our Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review sample and its massive 11,200mAh battery managed to easily last close to three days.
This was achieved with the refresh rate set to a dynamic 120Hz and with moderate use that involves leaving WiFi on and dynamic screen brightness while gaming on Call of Duty Mobile and Genshin Impact, social media, emails and the odd YouTube short or two.
In PCMark’s battery life test, it managed to last a very respectable 12 hours and 7 minutes which is plenty. If you need to eke out more battery life, you can dial the refresh rate of the display down to 60Hz though your mileage will vary depending on your use case.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra?
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra features powerful performance, a beautiful display, a robustI P68 rating and is currently one of the best ways to enjoy movies on the go while being able to handle a variety of productivity and light content creation tasks.
The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra doesn’t come cheap but this takes pole position as the most powerful Android tablet in Samsung’s current 2023 line-up and the market.
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. For more details and to purchase please visit https://www.samsung.com/my/tablets/galaxy-tab-s9/buy/
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra takes pole position as the premier Android tablet in terms of its massive display, potent performance and upgraded IP68 dust and water resistance . The bundled SPen stylus and keyboard case go some way to adding to its value and versatility though it still costs a pretty penny.
Innovative DeX mode
Crisp and vibrant display
IP68 dust and water resistance
Responsive S Pen stylus
Unwieldy to hold