The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ tablet is the third, and last 2023 Fan Edition device that I have been testing over the past weeks. I had previously covered the Galaxy S23 FE and the Galaxy Buds Pro FE. These FE devices are all about optimising the features, performance, and cost, sort of like a low-fat version of the premium models that they are based on. If you want a Samsung tablet experience in a more affordable (but not budget) package, the Tab S9 FE+ (from S$869), and the similar but smaller 10.9-inch Tab S9 FE (from S$669) are good options.
- 12.4-inch IPS LCD (2,560 x 1,600 pixels, 90Hz)
- Samsung Exynos 1380 with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage
- 10,090mAh battery
- 627g (Wi-Fi model)
As expected, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ comes with some downgrades from the “full-fat” Galaxy Tab S9 series of tablets. Firstly, the 12.4-inch screen is now an IPS LCD, not an AMOLED. It's still pretty nice: Big, bright, and with HDR10 support. Text and icons look crisp on this 2,560 x 1,600-pixel display. The refresh rate is lower at 90Hz, down from 120Hz. If you're coming from a flagship phone, scrolling web pages and navigating the Tab S9 FE+ may seem a bit more janky. There's also a slight colour shift while viewing the tablet from the sides. I'm fine with these compromises, as the tablet still looks as sleek, and as premium as the higher-end models. Do note that it's not exactly lightweight, thanks to the large screen. It can be quite a handful. You'll probably need both hands if you're using in landscape orientation.
Samsung bundles its S Pen stylus with the Tab S9 FE+, which is nice. You can attach it magnetically to the side of the tablet to charge, though the magnets don't feel that secure. However, I was surprised that Samsung kept the IP68 water and dust resistance for this mid-range tablet. Unlike a smartphone, I personally think tablets don't benefit as much from this feature. Instead, the speakers have been downsized. Instead of four speakers, the Tab S9 FE+ only has two. There's a microSD card slot to expand the storage by up to 1TB. This is helpful, seeing as the base model only has 128GB internal storage. The larger Tab S9 FE+ gets two 8MP rear cameras compared with the smaller S9 FE. But what's more important is the front camera, a 12MP ultra-wide that performs decently for video calls.
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ sports a mid-range Exynos 1380 processor. It's decent, but far from impressive. The tablet gets warm while running more intensive apps. And this chip is still slower than the Xiaomi Pad 6, which uses the two-year-old Qualcomm Snapdragon 870. In Geekbench 6, the S9 FE+ scored 1002 (single), and 2799 (multi-core), compared with the Xiaomi Pad 6 (1295, and 3198 respectively). To be fair, most users will have no issues with the performance. But if you're thinking of heavy multi-tasking, especially with Samsung desktop DeX mode, you might want to keep expectations in check. Samsung does offer a comprehensive selection of accessories, like the Book Cover Keyboard (S$368), and the Book Cover Keyboard Slim (S$258) for those going the laptop replacement route.
Battery life is good. Samsung keeps the same battery capacity for both its high-end and mid-range 12.9-inch tablets. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ lasted 6hr 50min in PCMark's battery benchmark, or about 16mins longer than Samsung's flagship Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. The Tab S9 FE+ fits the bill if you're looking for a good, but not premium (and expensive) tablet. I feel Samsung didn't go far enough in making the Tab S9 FE+ price-competitive, but then again, it has practically no competition in the 12 to 13-inch tablet space. Budget shoppers who want the Samsung experience can consider the Galaxy Tab A9+ instead. It's available now on Lazada (FE+) and Shopee (FE).
Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.
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