Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review

Will you love this “Fan Edition” of the Galaxy Tab S9+ Plus? Depends on how much power you need

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review unit
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is a cheaper, trimmed-down take on the Galaxy Tab S9 that keeps some of the premium allure, but sheds too much for our liking.


  • +

    Premium, polished design

  • +

    Big, bright screen

  • +

    Epic battery life

  • +

    Bundled S Pen stylus


  • -

    Lacking power

  • -

    Feels overpriced

  • -

    No 5G version

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The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ ($599) is a cheaper version of the company's Galaxy Tab S9 Android tablet that ditches premium elements like the S9's OLED display in favor of less expensive options.

This what you'd expect from a Samsung FE tablet. If you're not familiar, Samsung’s Galaxy FE smartphones—the “FE” stands for “Fan Edition”—take the premium allure of the tech giant’s highest-end handsets and trim down the spec sheet, resulting in a device that looks fancy but is more modestly priced. And that’s true with tablets too.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ delivers another familiar concoction. It looks and feels like a flagship Android device, but skimps on some of the amenities, particularly when it comes to performance. The result is an appealing device that’s pretty capable overall, but feels short-changed when it comes to packed-in power.

Unlike its namesake, the trade-offs made to get the S9 FE+ keep it from ranking among the best Android tablets and the best Samsung tablets on the market. But it's not that far off the mark, and if you're in the market for a nice, cheap Android tablet this tablet is worth a look. I'll show you why in this Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ review.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Specs

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Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
CPUSamsung Exynos 1380
Display 12.4-inch 2560x1600 90Hz LCD Touch
PortsUSB-C, microSD
ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3
AccessoriesS Pen stylus included
Dimensions11.24 x 7.3 x 0.26 inches
Weight1.38 pounds

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Price and release date

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review

(Image credit: Future)
  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ starts at $599
  • The standard Galaxy Tab S9 FE has a smaller screen and starts at $449

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ can be purchased via Samsung's website starting at $599 for a model with 8GB RAM and 128GB internal storage, which is the one that we tested. There’s also a version with 12GB RAM and double the internal storage (256GB) for $100 more. Samsung offers the tablet in gray (as tested), silver, mint, and lavender backing colors.

As you might gather from the naming, the FE+ is a larger edition—there’s also a standard Galaxy Tab S9 FE model with a smaller screen and less battery capacity to match, though it may ultimately deliver similar uptime.

The Galaxy Tab S9 FE starts at $449.99 and comes with a 10.9-inch screen as opposed to the 12.4-inch screen on the FE+. Also, the standard FE model is available in a 5G cellular option, while the FE+ only comes with Wi-Fi connectivity.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Design

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review

(Image credit: Future)
  • The Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ feels like a fully premium tablet
  • It has a sizable 12.4-inch screen, but doesn’t feel excessively large or heavy

 You wouldn’t know that this was a trimmed-down version of a more premium tablet by looking at it, as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ still gives off high-end allure. It’s slim and sleek and feels hyper-polished—which makes sense, since this is still a $599 tablet. But it looks and feels much like Samsung’s pricier models.

With dimensions of 11.24 x 7.3 x 0.26 inches and a weight of 1.38 pounds, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ puts a large screen in your hands without unnecessary heft. The black bezel is uniformly modest, too, making the sizable 12.4-inch display the real star of the experience.

Granted, the rounded rectangle design feels very much in line with what Apple’s been doing on its iPad models for years, albeit with a narrower 16:10 display. Design-wise, Samsung’s tablet isn’t doing anything that really stands out from the pack, but it still delivers a premium vibe. And the IP68-rated water and dust resistance is certainly appreciated here.

Held sideways in landscape mode, there’s a selfie cam in the upper bezel and a power button with a built-in fingerprint sensor on the top edge, along with the volume rocker and a microSD slot for expandable storage. The fingerprint sensor was fast and reliable in my testing, though you can also opt for facial scanning instead.

In landscape orientation, the speakers are on the upper right and left sides, while the USB-C port is on the right. On the bottom are magnetized connectors for accessories like covers and keyboard attachments.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Display

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review

(Image credit: Future)
  • The Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ has a big, bright, and beautiful screen
  • It’s not an AMOLED display, but it still impresses

Samsung swapped from AMOLED panels on the standard, pricier Galaxy Tab S9 FE models to LCD on the FE versions, including the 12.4” FE+. LCD screens typically can’t match the bold colors and deep black levels seen on comparable OLED displays.

But without having them side by side, I’m hard pressed to call out any major deficiencies with the screen on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+. It packs in vivid colors and gets super bright, hitting a sizable 760 nits with adaptive brightness on and 637 nits with HDR equipped.With the default Vivid screen setting, the color accuracy matched the promised vibe with 152.4% of the sRGB color gamut and a 108% DCI-P3 result, with the Delta-E score landing at 0.15. The standard Galaxy Tab S9 topped it on every mark with its AMOLED screen, though. 

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Display benchmarks
Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+Samsung Galaxy Tab S9iPad Air (2022)
Nits (brightness)760 (adaptive), 637 (HDR)592 (adaptive), 749 (HDR)485 (adaptive)

This is a strong screen, and on its own merits, I was impressed by the brightness and lively colors. Samsung clearly made some strategic downgrades here compared to the full-blooded Galaxy Tab S9 models, and while none are deal-breakers or even all that noticeable, they’re sure to weigh in on any value comparison you’re considering. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Performance

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review

(Image credit: Future)
  • The Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ has less power than a 2021 iPad - that’s rough
  • While still snappy in basic usage, the tablet can struggle with 3D games

Here’s where the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ presents its one noticeable letdown—though admittedly, it’s one that not every user may even notice. In standard day-to-day usage, such as browsing the web, watching videos, and playing lightweight games, the device feels reasonably zippy. The 8GB RAM probably helps there, alongside the Exynos 1380 processor.

But the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ comes up well short on benchmark tests when compared to the competition, and you’ll see that when playing 3D games. The device put up a meager 761 on Geekbench 5’s single-core benchmark, and a 2,657 score on the multi-core test. That’s roughly half of what we saw on the full-fledged Galaxy Tab S9 (1,555 single-core, 5,164 multi-core).

But what really stands out is that it’s worse than the current $599 iPad Air from 2022 (1,707/7,151) and even the current $449 iPad from 2022 (1,580/4,400). Heck, it’s lower than even the previous standard iPad from 2021 (1,384/3,387), which is still available for $329—about half the price of this newer Samsung tablet. 

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Benchmark results
Header Cell - Column 0 Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+Samsung Galaxy Tab S9iPad Air (2022)
ProcessorExynos 1380Snapdragon 8 Gen 2Apple M1
Geekbench 5 single-core CPU7611,5551,707
Geekbench 5 multi-core CPU2,6575,1647,151
3DMark Wild Life Unlimited2,95314,83117,966

Granted, the various 3D games I tried all ran decently enough, albeit with trimmed-down graphics. You can play Fortnite at roughly 30 frames per second (fps), but everything looks jagged and fuzzy. Still, it’s solidly playable, and better fuzzy than choppy.

With role-playing game Genshin Impact, I was able to boost the visual settings to a smooth 60 fps and higher detail, though the game warned me that the tablet could overheat and the game could crash. To its credit, the tablet did get warmer than usual, but the game kept running. Racing game Asphalt 9 and shooter Call of Duty Mobile both ran pretty well.

Gaming benchmark tests show that the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ has considerably less graphics power onboard that other options. On 3D Mark’s Wild Life Unlimited test, the FE+ registered a score of 2,953—a far cry from 14,831 on the standard Galaxy Tab S9, not to mention 17,966 on the older iPad Air.

Not everyone needs a tablet for polished 3D gaming, but the lack of firepower still gives me pause, particularly when it comes to standing the test of time in the coming years as future Android updates are released.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Audio

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review

(Image credit: Future)
  • The dual speakers are better than expected, but lacking bass

Even with half the speakers of the full-bodied Galaxy Tab S9 models, the S9 FE+ puts up a strong showing with a pair of speakers that get loud and sound pretty clear, with Dolby Atmos support adding a nicely atmospheric kick to the output. It’s better than expected, but still comes up short on bass—but we felt the same about the Galaxy Tab S9. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Software

  • Samsung’s tablet riff on Android is clean and easy to use

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ currently runs Android 14 with the company’s own One UI 6.0 interface. It’s a clean and attractive layer on top of Android, bringing along a bevy of Samsung’s own apps, such as the Galaxy Store alongside Google’s own Play Store.

Other bundled Samsung apps include the Gaming Hub, Health, and the SmartThings connected home hub. I found it easy enough to get around the interface, which is tweaked for a tablet-sized screen, including putting the navigation buttons on the lower right or left for easier access.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Accessories

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review

(Image credit: Future)
  • Comes with a bundled S Pen stylus that snaps onto the back
  • Samsung also sells optional cases and keyboard attachments

The Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ comes bundled with an S Pen stylus, which magnetically attaches to the upper back of the tablet near the rear camera module. Unlike on the Galaxy Tab S9, this version of the stylus doesn’t have a built-in battery.

Even without a charge, this S Pen promises the same feature set and sensitivity—and as a casual stylus user, I found that it was as responsive as Samsung’s battery-powered S Pen models. This one doesn’t feel any less capable to me.

Samsung also sells optional accessories, such as the two-piece Book Cover ($90) as seen in some photos here. The backing piece stays magnetically connected to the tablet and has a clever fold-down stand, as well as a slight bulge to keep the stylus secured.

The front flap, meanwhile, connects via the connector and keeps your screen covered when not in use. I typically removed the front cover entirely when using the tablet, but I liked the fit and feel of the rear cover and typically kept it attached.

Samsung also sells a couple of keyboard case attachments in slim ($160) and standard ($230) renditions, if you want a more laptop-like design.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Cameras

  • They’re adequate tablet cameras, but nothing more

Samsung has packed solid cameras onto the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+, but these aren’t nearly at the level of the show-stopping shooters you’ll typically find on its flagship phones. That’s expected, though—and for most people, these snappers will do just fine. The 12-megapixel front-facing camera takes solid selfies and works just fine for video calls, plus it’ll follow you around as you move within the frame.

You get a pair of 8-megapixel cameras on the back—in wide and ultra-wide (0.5x) flavors—and they can produce decent shots with ample lighting, though they struggle in lower light scenes. Shots from the main wide-angle camera tend to be a little muted, while the ultra-wide camera grabs less detail but tends to produce punchier results.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Battery life and charging

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review

(Image credit: Future)
  • This tablet delivers for the long haul with 18-hour battery life

What you lose in raw power on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ you definitely gain in battery life. This thing is a beast, putting its sizable 10,090 mAh cell to impressive use. In our standard battery rundown test, in which the device continuously surfs the web over Wi-Fi with the screen set to 150 nits of brightness, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ lasted for 18 hours and 6 minutes.

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Battery test results
Header Cell - Column 0 Time (min:secs)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+18:06
Samsung Galaxy Tab S99:06
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra9:27
Samsung Galaxy Tab S812:52
Lenovo Tab Extreme9:28
Apple iPad Air (2022)1:09
Apple iPad Pro (2022)10:37

That’s about double the 9:06 result from the standard Galaxy Tab S9 (not the larger S9+ model, mind you), and just shy of double the 10:09 result that we marked on the current iPad Air model from 2022. At a higher brightness setting and/or while playing 3D games, you’ll undoubtedly trim some hours off of that estimate. But with general, lightweight use, this tablet lasts and lasts.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus review: Verdict

I loved using the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ on a day to day basis, pouring hours into Hearthstone card battles, streaming YouTube while it was propped up with the Book Cover backing, and browsing the web.

It’s a lavish-feeling tablet that impresses in a lot of ways, but when it can’t even perform to the level of an iPad that’s two years older and nearly half the price, it’s hard to make sense of the $599 price tag. On the other hand, the epic battery life and bundled S Pen stylus might help make up for the lack of raw power, especially for people who don’t play a lot of games.

Even so, it’s tough to justify the $599 price point—and I have real concerns about the ability for this low-powered tablet to keep pace as future Android updates are released. It might be more appealing if on sale, or the slightly smaller Galaxy Tab S9 FE could provide a better balance of power and price at $449.

Andrew Hayward

Andrew Hayward is a freelance writer for Tom’s Guide who contributes laptop and other hardware reviews. He’s also the Culture Editor at crypto publication Decrypt covering the world of Web3. Andrew’s writing on games and tech has been published in more than 100 publications since 2006, including Rolling Stone, Vice, Polygon, Playboy, Stuff, and GamesRadar.