Samsung continues to expand its line of Android tablets, but this time with the more affordable Galaxy Tab S9 FE+. It comes out later than the flagship Tab S9, S9 Plus, and S9 Ultra, and is another tablet in the manufacturer’s Fan Edition series, already familiar to us from smartphones and even headphones. The FE prefix in the name itself hints that the model is a simplified version of the flagships, but it should still provide some of their features, but at a lower cost. I will tell you whether this is true in this review.
Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ specifications
|Dimensions and weight
285,4 x 185,4 x 6,5 mm
|RAM and storage
|8/128 + microSD card support
|Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3
|12.4-inch IPS, 2560×1600 dots, 16:10, 90 Hz, maximum brightness 600 nits (720 nits in automatic mode)
8-megapixel wide-angle f/2.0
8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle, f/2.2
|Wired up to 45 W
|USB Type-C 2.0
|Android 14, One UI 6
|Recommended price in Ukraine
|8/128 ГБ – 25 999 UAH, 8/128 LTE – 30 999 UAH
Design and materials
The cost of Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ without LTE module is much cheaper than the flagship Tab S9, and this is quite an important point, because in terms of materials and workmanship, the younger version is not inferior to the older one.
The Tab S9 FE+ body is made of aluminum, with small slots for plastic inserts that cover the antennas, as well as two camera lenses that protrude slightly from the panel. The thickness of the device is only 6.5 mm, so it’s very thin, but despite this, the body feels monolithic.
The entire front panel of the tablet is covered with glass, which protects the 12.4-inch display. The bezels around the latter are not very large, as for a tablet, but still allow you to hold the device in your hands without accidental pressing. So, in general, we can say that the bezels strike a balance between thickness and usability.
The edges of the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ are part of the aluminum back panel and are quite sharp, but their flat surface allows you to hold the tablet securely in your hands. This is also facilitated by the relatively light weight of the model, which reaches 627 grams.
If you hold the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ in a horizontal position, you can find neat speaker slots on the sides, and a USB-C port on the right side.
On the top edge is the power button, which has a fingerprint scanner that allows you to unlock the screen very quickly. Below it is the volume key.
On the bottom edge, you can see a magnetic connector that allows you to connect a keyboard cover to the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+.
In general, we can say that despite belonging to the FE series, the manufacturer did not simplify the design and materials of the tablet, even retaining protection against water and dust according to the IP68 standard. This immediately makes Tab S9 FE+ quite an interesting option not only for use at home, but also for business, for example, in production.
Display and S Pen
Galaxy Tab S9 FE has a 12.4-inch IPS display with a refresh rate of 90 Hz, a resolution of 2560×1600 pixels and an aspect ratio of 16:10. Its maximum brightness reaches 600 nits, while the peak brightness in automatic mode can increase to 720 nits when the screen is under bright light. Overall, it’s a fairly high-quality screen for an IPS, which provides good viewing angles and color rendering.
In the settings, the user can choose from two traditional Samsung options – natural and saturated colors. The first corresponds to the sRGB color space, and the second to DCI-P3.
There is also a color temperature setting that can be changed automatically depending on the time of day, or manually adjusted according to a schedule. So in the evening, the display can be made “warmer” to reduce the amount of blue light.
Compared to the older models of the Galaxy Tab S9 line, which are equipped with OLED matrices with a frequency of up to 120 Hz, the screen of the FE+ version is somewhat simplified and lags behind the flagships in terms of quality. However, it is enough for comfortable reading of text, watching videos, playing games, and even drawing. For the latter, the tablet comes with an S Pen right out of the box.
Such equipment is generally a feature of Samsung’s flagship line, and this is one of its advantages, because, for example, the basic 10.9-inch iPad 2022, which is the closest competitor to the Tab S9 FE+, does not come with an Apple Pencil.
The tablet’s bundled pen is equipped with a 0.7 mm replaceable tip that supports the recognition of 4096 pressure levels and provides high input accuracy. However, the most interesting thing about this version of the S Pen is its IP68 water and dust protection, which means that it can be used in the rain or in industrial premises, just like the tablet itself. This is a significant advantage for many users.
Platform and performance
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is built on Samsung’s proprietary platform using a 5-nm processor Exynos 1380 (4 Cortex-A78 2.4GHz + 4 Cortex-A55 2GHz cores) and Mali-G68 MP5 graphics. There are two memory configurations in the model: 8+128 GB and 12+256 GB. However, only the first option is officially available in Ukraine. However, the ability to expand the built-in data storage using microSD memory cards makes the basic version quite competitive.
As for the platform itself, in all respects, the Exynos 1380 is a mid-range processor that is comparable in performance to Qualcomm’s older Snapdragon 778G chip. Given that I got a configuration with 8 GB of LPDDR4X RAM and a 128 GB storage, I can only talk about the performance of the basic version.
After various usage scenarios that included browsing, email and documents, as well as casual gaming, reading books and watching YouTube/Netflix, we can confidently say that the performance of Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is quite enough for most tasks that tablet users may face. However, it’s worth noting that the model with 12 GB of RAM will definitely be more comfortable for multitasking.
Synthetic benchmarks, especially when compared to the flagships of Samsung’s Android tablet lineup, such as the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, do not give a full understanding of the capabilities of the Tab S9 FE+ platform, as the Exynos 1380 is more than twice as slow as the top-end Snapdragon 8 Gen 2. However, the latter simply has a rather large power reserve, while the Tab S9 FE+ platform is quite enough for everyday tasks. But I should note that this is more about content consumption and less about content creation, except for less demanding tasks like text, drawing, or simple photo processing. You won’t be able to edit video on this model.
The games are actually quite good, I’ve run Titan Quest, Dead Cells, and Northgard strategy. Games of this level will run on the tablet without any problems. More demanding ones may need to change the graphics settings to basic.
One of the advantages of the Tab S9 FE+ platform is its low heating level; in most tasks, the tablet body does not even become warm. This is confirmed by the 3DMark Wild Life stress test, in which the device reaches a stability rate of 98.8%, the Exynos 1380 processor almost never drops frequencies under maximum load.
In terms of wireless capabilities, Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ supports Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3. In addition, there is a version of the tablet that supports LTE/5G networks, which allows you to use the Internet on mobile networks and without being tied to Wi-Fi access points. Modules for receiving signals from GPS, Beidou, Galileo, and QZSS satellite navigation systems will also be useful.
Overall, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ doesn’t try to compete with the top Android tablets, but it offers a hardware platform with a good set of features and enough performance for most tasks.
Audio and cameras
Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ has two speakers tuned by AKG. Their relatively small holes are located on the sides when the tablet is held vertically.
This placement is great for watching videos, especially since the speakers themselves are very loud and create a sense of volume. With the right stand, the tablet can also be used as a portable speaker or a smart kitchen display to watch recipes or videos while cooking.
As in most modern tablets, Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ has a set of main cameras, the manufacturer used two modules: 8-megapixel wide-angle with f/1.9 aperture and 8-megapixel ultra-wide-angle with f/2.2 aperture.
Both cameras have electronic stabilization, so they are suitable only for everyday shots, for example, if you need to take a picture of your child’s homework or a paid receipt. Otherwise, the detail and overall photo quality will be worse than in smartphones of the same price category.
The front 12-megapixel camera does its job quite well, even in low light it provides a pretty good picture, which will be enough for video calls.
Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ battery life
The tablet uses a 10090 mAh battery, which is enough for several days of active use. Reading books, watching videos on YouTube and Netflix, and occasionally playing casual games, I charged the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ once every three days on average. The PCMark battery life test showed that the tablet can last more than 14 hours under load and with the screen on.
The Tab S9 FE+ is charged via USB Type-C 2.0 and supports up to 45 watts of power. This allows you to recharge the tablet from 0% to 100% in 120 minutes.