Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 hands-on review

The entry-level Galaxy Tab S9 receives some welcome upgrades

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

Early Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 might be an entry-level tablet but its upgraded OLED display and rear cameras make it feel more like a premium slate. Like its predecessor, this should be another rock-solid Android tablet.


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    New OLED display

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    Upgraded rear cameras

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    Sturdy build


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    $100 more than the previous model

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 (starting at $799) might not seem like a substantial upgrade over last year’s Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 at first glance.

While that’s true in some respects, Samsung has still given this tablet some much-needed upgrades. In fact it's arguably received more improvements over the S8 than its sibling slates the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus and Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra got over their predecessors.

So what’s new on the Galaxy Tab S9? For starters, it now has an OLED display like the premium Tab S9 Plus and Tab S9 Ultra. It also has a sturdier design that’s dust and water-resistant and an improved rear camera, as well as a faster chipset inside.

I got some hands-on time with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 and found it as impressive as last year's model. Right now, I think it has the makings of being one of the best Android and best Samsung tablets on the market. I’ll explain why in this preview.

Recent leaks suggest a Galaxy Tab S9 FE could be on the way to join Samsung's other new tablets.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 hands-on review: Specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 (starting)
CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Display11-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X (60-120Hz)
PortsUSB-C, microSD
Connectivity5G, LTE , Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
AccessoriesS Pen stylus included
Dimensions10.01 x 6.53 x 0.23 inches
Weight1.10 pounds

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 hands-on review: Price and release date

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 is now available to pre-order starting at $799, with availability starting August 11. This model packs 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM. You can configure the tablet with up to 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage.

Samsung is offering up to $650 off any Galaxy Tab S9 tablet with an eligible trade-in. You'll also get 50% off the purchase of a Book Cover Keyboard Slim when pre-ordering any of the Tab S9 tablets. In addition, you'll receive $40 off a pair of Galaxy Buds2 Pro when pre-ordering any of the Galaxy Tab S9 slates on Samsung's website or through the Shop Samsung App.

At $799, the new Galaxy Tab S9 costs $100 more than the Tab S8. While the price bump isn’t ideal, it’s not an exorbitant hike.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 hands-on review: Design and display

At 10.01 x 6.53 x 0.23 inches and a weight of 1.10 pounds, the Galaxy Tab S9 is virtually identical to its predecessor in terms of size and weight. It’s an elegant slab of aluminum that feels sturdy and great to hold. Given its slim profile and light weight, you should be able to comfortably hold this tablet for long stints.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As before, there’s a slight bump on the back of the device that houses the rear camera, along with a magnetized strip where you attach and charge the S Pen. There’s a lone USB-C port along the bottom edge, while the left edge has a port for attaching the Book Cover Keyboard Slim. The power button, volume rocker and microSD card slot all reside on the tablet’s right edge. There’s no headphone jack to speak of.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The new OLED display looks phenomenal on the Tab S9. It’s much more colorful and vibrant than on the previous model to my eyes. The videos I watched during my hands-on time appeared highly detailed, with great separation between dark and bright elements.

We’ll have a better sense of the display’s capabilities when we get the Tab S9 into our testing lab, but to me, the vivid display is a nice improvement over the Tab S8.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 hands-on review: Performance

Like the rest of the Galaxy Tab S9 line, the Galaxy Tab S9 packs the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor found in the company’s Samsung Galaxy S23 smartphone series. On top of that, the new slate runs on Android 13.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

As with the display, we’ll need to get the tablet into our testing lab to gauge its overall performance. But during my brief hands-on time, I found the interface fast and snappy — which isn’t always the case with the Android operating system. Genshin Impact ran smoothly enough, though I noticed the game’s resolution dropped — likely to maintain performance. Watching videos or browsing web pages was seamless.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 hands-on review: Accessories

If you use tablets for writing or drawing, you’ll be pleased to know that all the Galaxy Tab S9 tablets come bundled with the company’s S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The S Pen now has a latency of 2.8ms and its pressure-sensitive button is now raised. Another new feature is that the stylus charges on the magnetic strip whether it’s up or down. If you want to use the tablet by the pool or at the beach, you can rest easy knowing both the S pen and tablet have an IP68 waterproof rating. A Samsung PR rep told me you can use the tablet and pen in up to three feet of water for 30 minutes.

As I said in my Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra hands-on preview, the updated S Pen feels as good to hold as the previous model thanks to its thickness and sturdy build. Writing with the pen feels intuitive but I’ll need more time with the pen and tablet to see if the overall writing experience is improved over last gen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 hands-on review: Battery life and charging

The Galaxy Tab S9 features a 8,400mAh battery, which is a bump up from the 8,000mAh of the Galaxy Tab S8.

In our battery test, the Tab S8 lasted for an impressive 12 hours and 52 minutes. The new tablet’s stronger processor and OLED panel could potentially impact how long it lasts on a single charge. But it's possible this tablet's better battery could balance the scales. We’ll see what our tests have to say.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 hands-on review: Outlook

It’s great to see the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 get an OLED display and a faster chipset than its predecessors. Because of those improvements, it feels more like a premium product — only for hundreds of dollars less than its bigger siblings. 

Thanks to its sturdy build, slim design and sharp and vibrant display, the Galaxy Tab S9 could potentially be one of the best tablets of 2023. We felt the Galaxy Tab S8 set a new standard for Android tablets when it launched last year, and perhaps that standard will be shattered when the Tab S9 hits store shelves.

We’ll find out soon when we get a chance to review the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9, so check back to find out!

Tony Polanco
Computing Writer

Tony is a computing writer at Tom’s Guide covering laptops, tablets, Windows, and iOS. During his off-hours, Tony enjoys reading comic books, playing video games, reading speculative fiction novels, and spending too much time on Twitter. His non-nerdy pursuits involve attending Hard Rock/Heavy Metal concerts and going to NYC bars with friends and colleagues. His work has appeared in publications such as Laptop Mag, PC Mag, and various independent gaming sites.