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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review: Niche luxury device

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review: Niche luxury device

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is the big-screen tablet you deserve. It has a fantastic screen, great performance, and good battery life. But it's also more of a luxury good than a must-have device. Especially given its price tag, which treads into laptop territory when you factor in the price of its keyboard accessory. It's definitely not for everyone.

Quick specs

  • 14.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X (2,960 x 1,848 pixels, 60Hz to 120Hz)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip with 12GB RAM and 256GB storage
  • 11,200mAh battery
  • 737g (5G model)

The S9 Ultra is just as sleek as its predecessor. But it can be quite a handful, thanks to its weight (around 737g) and large 14.6-inch display. As a standalone tablet, it's just unwieldy, no matter if you're using it in portrait or landscape orientation. Not to mention that the extra screen real estate is often wasted by Android apps that aren't optimised for tablets. But boy does it have a sweet screen that's bright and vibrant. Its Dynamic AMOLED 2X 16:10 display dynamically adjusts the refresh rate from 60Hz to 120Hz. Samsung says the tablet's quad speakers are now 20% larger — they certainly sound great for movies and games, and support Dolby Atmos.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

While the form factor has remained the same — it even has an identical 11,200mAh battery capacity as last year's model — Samsung has made some improvements. For starters, the S9 Ultra, like the rest of the S9 tablet series, is IP68-rated for water and dust resistance for the first time. This IP68 rating extends to the included S Pen. You charge this stylus by attaching it magnetically to the groove at the back of the tablet. It supports bidirectional charging, which means the pen tip can face either direction when attached. The S9 Ultra, like Samsung's other premium mobile devices, uses the latest flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy chip. Performance is snappy. It also seems to have better battery life. The S9 Ultra lasted 11hr 46 min in our video-loop battery test, up from 10 hours for its predecessor.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
Samsung DeX enables a Windows-like desktop environment. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

I didn't test the official Book Cover Keyboard for the S9 Ultra. But this keyboard accessory basically transforms the tablet into a laptop with a proper touchpad. It also covers the S Pen, preventing it from being dislodged, and lost in your bag. Software-wise, the S9 Ultra is about as good as it gets for multitasking on an Android tablet. If you choose not to use Samsung's desktop-oriented DeX mode, the S9 Ultra still handles multiple apps with aplomb. You can snap two apps side by side, and easily restore previously-opened app pairings. And if you prefer to take notes with the S Pen, Samsung has included a one-year subscription for Goodnotes 6 Pro. But the nagging concern at the back of my head: You can do all this, and more with a Windows laptop.

In short, if you weren't persuaded by Samsung's previous large-screen slate before, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra won't change your mind. It gets a few upgrades, as well as improved performance and battery life. But its large display is still an acquired taste. While the price has gone down (S$1,888 for the 5G model I tested, compared with S$2,188 for its predecessor), this tablet is still a luxury good. Adding a Book Cover Keyboard (S$558) or a Book Cover Keyboard Slim (S$318) will make it as expensive as a premium Windows laptop. And it's hard to justify that. But if you buy it before Sep 15, Samsung is sweetening the deal by throwing in the Book Cover Keyboard Slim, a Bluetooth mouse and a one-year Microsoft 365 subscription. The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is now available from Lazada or Shopee.

See Also
Lenovo Yoga Pro 7i Gen 8

Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.

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