Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ review: The tablet gives Apple a run for its money

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is an absolute mouthful. It’s a budget-friendly alternative to Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Tab S9 while still touting a durable IP68 dust- and water-resistant rating, as well as a 12.4-inch screen, 20-hour battery life, and an included S Pen…all for a decently affordable price of $599. But is it worth it? 

As a long-time Apple user who is tip-toeing into the world of Android, I was eager to try out the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ for myself to see if it was worth the hype — and maybe even worth the switch. 


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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ specs

Priced at $599, the FE+ packs some pretty impressive specs into a decently affordable tablet. A few highlights include: 

  • Screen Size: 12.4-inch TFT LCD display

  • Refresh Rate: 90 Hz

  • Resolution: 2560 x 1600

  • Storage: 128GB with 8GB of RAM (with the option to upgrade to 12GB RAM and 256GB storage for an additional $100)

  • CPU: Samsung Exynos 1380 processor 

  • Cameras: 12MP (front camera), 8MP and 8MP ultra-wide (rear cameras)

  • Operating System: Android 13

  • Connectivity: WiFi 6, Bluetooth v5.3

  • Battery life: up to 20 hours

And if you’re someone who doesn’t care much about specs? The biggest differences between the S9 FE+ and the S9+ are the display and the CPU, which will be noticeable for hardcore users, but probably won’t make a difference for first-time buyers or casual users. And I have to mention the $400 price difference.


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What I liked about the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+

I’m not going to lie; this was my first time using an Android device. I’ve dabbled in Samsung products in the past, like the Samsung M7 Smart Monitor and my much-loved Samsung Galaxy Buds FE, but I was nervous about using a Samsung tablet after a lifetime of using Apple products. 

The S Pen is a very welcome addition to the tablet.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

Thankfully, making the switch was easier than I anticipated. The S9 FE+ is a fantastic tablet that functions as a great little productivity device — it boasts the ability to use as many as three apps on the screen at once, with two in split screen view and one in pop-up view, and the entire experience was way more intuitive than using Split View on my eighth generation iPad. 

I also loved the fact that the S9 FE+ came with an S Pen, which is Samsung’s version of the Apple Pencil, and the tablet has a magnetic strip under the back cameras to store your S Pen. While I love my Apple Pencil, using the S Pen felt far more natural — especially when it came to jotting down notes — and I found myself reaching for it more than I expected. Plus, the S9 FE+ offers a pretty solid gaming experience for casual gamers. While it’s certainly not a hardcore gaming machine, I was surprised to discover how much I loved playing chill games on this tablet — something I’ve never really done before — but it was the perfect tablet for scrolling through social media, playing a relaxing game, or watching a movie on the go. 

What I didn’t love about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+

First and foremost, the S9 FE+ is big. The 12.4-inch display is pretty hefty, and — as a casual user — it felt a little too big for my taste. However, screen size is definitely a personal preference, and someone who enjoys a larger display might feel otherwise. I will admit that the large screen did come in handy when I was doing some light graphic design work on Canva or doodling on Infinite Painter, but I never felt like I truly needed that much screen real estate.

That being said, as an Apple user who was experiencing Samsung products for the first time, I did love being able to use Samsung DeX on the S9 FE+. The ability to convert the tablet into a laptop-like device was wonderful, and I was tempted to splurge on Samsung’s $299 Book Cover Keyboard. 

However, while Samsung DeX is pretty freakin’ cool to use, it’s also fairly limited when it comes to the S9 FE+, which is my biggest disappointment with this tablet. The Tab S9 FE series doesn’t support DisplayPort Out, so you can’t use any external displays through wired or wireless DeX. This is a major missing feature, especially considering older models of Samsung tablets like the S7 FE included wireless DeX, and it doesn’t quite make sense why Samsung would remove this functionality from the S9 FE lineup. 

And, I’ve got to add, as someone who has heard wonderful things about Samsung’s devices and their cameras, the built-in cameras on the S9 FE+ were also pretty underwhelming. The 8MP front camera does a decent job, and it’s a solid camera for things like video conferencing, but the 8MP back camera and the 8MP ultra-wide back camera both fell pretty flat. The placement of the front camera was pretty interesting, considering it’s in the center of the right side of the tablet, perfect for when you’re using your tablet in landscape mode, but all things considered, I don’t really see myself using the cameras on this tablet unless my iPhone isn’t nearby.

close up of two rear cameras on the samsung galaxy tablet

The rear cameras just weren’t that impressive.
Credit: RJ Andersen / Mashable

Is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ worth the price? 

At $599, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ definitely isn’t cheap, but it’s also way more affordable than some of the other tablets on the market. If you’re a casual user who is looking to invest in a tablet for things like note-taking, reading, watching films, or light gaming, then the S9 FE+ might be a great option for you. If you want to save a few bucks and don’t care about the display size, you might even want to consider the S9 FE, which touts similar specs — 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and one back camera instead of two — as well as a 10.9-inch screen and a $449 price tag. 

If you’re a hardcore tablet user who is looking for something that packs a bit more punch, you might want to stick with Samsung’s Tab S9 or S9+. They’re a lot pricier, with the S9+ clocking in at $999 for the base specs, but the S9 also boasts a dynamic AMOLED 2X display, a superfast Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, and the ability to use DeX to connect your tablet to an external monitor — which is something many users might be on the lookout for in their tablet.

As far as Apple versus Samsung? It’s still too hard for me to decide. There are definite perks to each, and I still use my iPad just as much as I use the S9 FE+, so deciding between the two is probably going to be more of a personal preference. There are probably some good reasons to choose one over the other, but at the end of the day, it comes down to price, functionality, and convenience. If you’re looking for a cheaper tablet that is great for most users, Samsung generally offers a slightly lower price point for a pretty great product. If you’re looking for an Apple-specific functionality, or it’s important for you that your devices connect easily within the Apple ecosystem (like via iCloud), then you should probably stick with an iPad. If you’re like me and can’t decide? Pick one, try it out, and see what you like greatest.