Review of the Galaxy Tab S9+

I love a good portable device.  Something I'm taking with me where I go and can get some work done.  Sometimes a phone just isn't going to cut it.  

I need more screen real estate, I need to be able to show and share with others. A good tablet can make that happen.  

What I love about most tablets is that I can then also plug into my dock at home and have a keyboard and mouse and potentially a second monitor working too (looking at you Pixel Tablet, no 'video out' option). Sometimes. 

One of those times is with the Samsung tablets.   Today, I'm sharing with you my experiences with the Tab S9+. 

This is no tablet for the weak of wallet, the model I'm reviewing comes at a price of $1349.99(CAD), but you'll definitely find them useful. 

Specifications

  • 12.4" (2800x1752, 120Hz, HDR10+)
  • Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 SM8550-AC (3.36GHz X3 + 2.8GHz A715 x2 + 2.8GHz A710 x2 + 2.0GHz A510 x3)
  • 12GB RAM
  • 256GB storage + microSD
  • Rear Cameras: 13MP (f/2.0, 1/3.4", 1.0┬Ám) + 8MP (f/2.2, ultrawide)
  • Front camera: 12MP (f/2.4, 120°)
  • 4 speakers
  • 10090mAh battery
  • in-display fingerprint sensor
  • IP68
  • S-Pen

First off, like most tablets it's that thin slab of display, it has pretty minimal bezels even so you're picking it up and not wanting it to 'flex' and bend feels like it would be a thing.  But it is pretty sturdy, the big noticeable thing for me right away was the fact that it is awkward to hold on its own.

Adding to that awkward to hold there is a magnetic strip at the back where the S-Pen is held.  

It's how it inductively charges... and just hangs out.  You don't often feel it sitting there as the tablet is that big it shouldn't be noticed normally holding it.  But you have to remember it's there often when you go to pick it up by the 'top' to not jostle it loose, or if you put it down on a table it causes it to just not let it lay flat.

By putting it there you get a notice on the tablet it 'sees' it and is charging.

Going around the rest of the device we aside from the spot on the back for the pen there is also 2 different camera (a 13MP and then an 8MP ultrawide), but you probably aren't going to be using your tablet for photography.  On the 'top edge' of the tablet the power and volume buttons are over on the left side.  

The USB-C port is on the right.  Each side of it has 2 speakers, for some strong volume.  

Even at low settings you can hear the notifications clearly across the room.

There also is the microSD port closer to the right side of the top edge.

So that's the 'outsides' of the device, let's turn it on.  Doing so you're met with an amazing display.  It's large at that 12.4" screen which is QuadHD and has a high refresh rate at 120Hz.  Everything looks vivid in colour and fluid as heck.

To get into the device you can use a pin or a passcode etc... or, it has an in-screen fingerprint sensor.  

After using the Pixel Tablet with the fingerprint sensor on a button, in screen is something I'm way more used to on phones.  It's definitely welcome.

Using the tablet is ... well, just like using any other tablet out there, but it's big and the hand feel is difficult, so this is where I really would recommend someone picking up some sort of case or stand to use.

The software is fairly familiar for any other device out there with a couple Sammy add ins (and speaking of add-ins, there is a full folder worth of Microsoft and Samsung apps pre-included, as well as spotify and some 'clip' drawing app - which wants you to subscribe to a pro/paid level).  Seeing as it's still Android, I still load up a bunch of Google apps, which can be a little duplicative of their own Calendar, messages, app store and gallery.

First up in using it aside from just using apps and whatnot, with so much screen real estate you're going to want to be able to do some multitasking.  Instead of swapping back and forth you can open things up in a 'split' view.

Depending on the rotation it can be side-by-side, or it can be top/bottom split.

The other option is to make an app in 'pop up' mode, where it's a floating app.

That makes doing some real multi-tasking easier on a tablet.

To take it that much more into the multi-tasking you can enter a "desktop experience" mode, or they call it DeX.  

Which, I've been using on the S4 for quite some time.

It is a sort of 'windows' looking operating system where you can have apps load in windows and arrange them (most apps have no issue in this mode and resizing, but some may not be as forgiving).

This works especially as it has the 'video' out option to use an external monitor (wirelessly on smart devices too).  The external monitor can either be a mirror of the Android / Samsung UI, or leave the tablet as is and then the monitor uses DeX.

The missing feature here is to have your mouse move back and forth between the 2 so you can interact with both seamlessly with mouse and keyboard, but sadly the tablet would remain as a 'touch' input style.

There is the option to use the tablet as a 'second screen' for your Windows device, but ... I don't use Windows personally, so I didn't get a chance to try that.

Another neat feature I liked on the S9+ that I didn't see on the S4 was an opportunity for a 'floating quick apps' they're calling a taskbar.  When in not the homescreen (so any app) you have the opportunity to have a little row of apps.  4 are 'set' and then 2-4 after the divide are taken from recent apps used.

Tap them to open, or tap and hold then drag to a space to open in split screen.

There's even the 'bento box' in the bottom left to bring up your app tray/list.  

You can turn it on, but then hide it or bring it back by long pressing at the bottom of the display.  

I like it.

Using the device you're going to need some way to interact with it.  A phone, it's the size enough for a finger.  However, something this big, typing away makes it a little bit harder.  So, something that can help you is the S-Pen.  A, the pen can act as a makeshift mouse - something for you to tap away at, select with, etc...

But, as the name implies, the pen can be a 'pen' and you can use it to write in.

Neatly enough you can either use the pen to write in a 'writing section' where the virtual keyboard would be - I'm used to that for a while with other S-Pen devices, but with this you can even write on the screen wherever the textbox is that is needing some input.  

That really gives it the sense of you using a piece of paper.

There's more you can do with the S-Pen as well, air commands, selecting and writing away.  The pen just feels natural to use when using the tablet.  The pen feels like a proper pen (not some huge barrel like the Apple Pen or the Pixel Pen).

I'm just not sold on how it's being held there on the device.  Magnet's strong enough, but on the back it's easy to forget where it is.

I think I'm going to go back to my comments of something is needed to help with the holding of it.  Hold the pen and allow you to have a better grip or way to situate the tablet on a table or lap.

So, for that you're going to want to pick up even a book cover ($90CDN 'ish) or the keyboard cover ($225CDN 'ish).

This is already an expensive tablet, adding in the keyboard case (trust me, the keyboard is almost an essential requirement for this device - I can't tell you how much I use my Tab S4 and almost 100% of the time with the keyboard).

The device is really powerful, it can handle a lot.  We can multitask with it and with the games and apps I've used on it, even setting it in DeX and an external monitor, I didn't notice a hiccup at all with it.

The battery seemingly lasts forever.

Just to keep using it it's got to be comfortable and without some 'holder' I found it difficult.  So then for $1600CDN'ish in cost for the tablet and the keyboard case, it's really bordering on the 'too expensive' realm. At that price I've got to feel really secure in the ability to bring it around and use it comfortably and safely.  It's got the chops to be worth it, but ultimately you'll have to balance that for yourself. You could pick up a good touchscreeen laptop for that money... But then you'd have a permanently attached keyboard.

Overall, loved the S9+, Samsung has really made some products to last (and to that end I'm still using my Tab S4 over 5 years later).  Is it worth $1600 ... if it can last 5 years, that's $320/year to put it into perspective.

Comments