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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series hands-on: Samsung made us write on an underwater tablet

By Liu Hongzuo - 6 Apr 2024

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series hands-on: Samsung made us write on an underwater tablet

Note: This article was first published on 26th July 2023.

Trying out the entire Galaxy Tab S9 series in Seoul, South Korea.

Galaxy Tab S9 series: same-same, but not so different 

If you’re familiar with Samsung's ongoing Galaxy Tab S series tablets, you’d know that they used to differentiate mildly by having different display types for different tiers.

Well, none of that nonsense exists with the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series. Materially, the three tablets are all premium-tier Android tablets that want to be the Apple iPad Pro for Android users. They are nearly identical in terms of components and parts quality, only differing in display size, battery size, and weight

If you’re really nitpicky, the regular Tab S9 comes with 8GB RAM, while the Tab S9+ and Tab S9 Ultra offer 12B RAM. But you’re not getting any ‘less’ if you pick the Galaxy Tab S9 over the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra now.

Samsung showing off the Vision Booster feature on the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra by blasting an artificially created studio light with 5600K lighting temperature (equal to daylight).

These tablets come with Dynamic AMOLED 2X panels rated at 60-120Hz refresh rate, paired with Vision Booster for better outdoor viewing (pictured above), support for HDR10+, Eye Comfort for eye-strain reduction, and 16:10 aspect ratio no matter your choice between Galaxy Tab S9, Galaxy Tab S9+, or Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra.

Two of its AKG-tuned, Dolby Atmos compatible speakers.

All three also now offer 20% larger quad speakers tuned by AKG with native support for Dolby Atmos, making the trio even more immersive at offering cinematic sound right out of the box.

A better view of the Galaxy Tab S9+.

Finally, they are all powered by the same Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor that’s also used in the foldables, Galaxy Z Flip5 and Z Fold5.

Check out her big vapour chambers.

The material differences are size related. The regular Tab S9 sits at 11-inch with an 8,400mAh battery, followed by the Galaxy Tab S9+ with a 12.4-inch display and a 10,090mAh battery. The largest of three is the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, touting 14.6-inch display real estate and packing a fat 11,200mAh capacity. Depending on your professional or creative needs, Samsung has the right tablet size packed to the brim with premium performance just for you.

The only concern was the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra tablet, which was so big that it's not recommended for anyone to wield it with one hand while stylus-ing away with the other. The other tablets were a lot more realistic in proportions and handling.

Oh, and because these are premium Android tablets, all three come with expandable storage via microSD slot, up to 1TB. All three also come with a default S Pen that magnetically attaches to the tablet, right out of the box. We guess Samsung really wants to show Apple how tablets should be done.

Waterproof tablet, waterproof stylus

If you like being wet, the Galaxy Tab S9 series and its S Pen can keep up with you. This fish tank had no qualms about how wet Tab S9 Ultra should be.

A highlight of our demo time in Seoul was the IP68-rated water and dust resistance for the Galaxy Tab S9 series, along with an equally certified S Pen for each tablet. Samsung literally set up a fish tank with a tablet soaking within for a good part of the day (and we were demoing with all 2023 Unpacked products for the better part of two hours). That is a testament to the Galaxy Tab S9 series’ waterproofing capabilities as it sat idle, waiting for people to come by and touch it.

More puzzling (and exciting) is the invitation to use the S Pen stylus on the tablet while the devices were submerged. Both the S Pen and Tab S9 units showed no signs of fault or slowing down. 

Normal operations for a Galaxy Tab S9 series tablet. the S Pen is mounted magnetically on the top rung.

Underwater writing may not sound like a very practical showcase of tablets or styluses. Still, such feats surpass even traditional writing instruments like ballpoint pens and markers — you can get any brushstroke or pen style you want with the tablet’s digital interface, and not have to think twice about the water around you.

S Pen Creator Edition

The S Pen Creator Edition is an optional accessory that’s announced with, but not launched alongside the Galaxy Tab S9 series — Samsung said it was an offering that would come “later”, with added features for creative professionals to gain more precise control over their digital works when using the new Samsung tablets.

Yet, the demo session in Seoul had a working prototype of the S Pen Creator Edition, along with an engineer who worked on it to explain the stylus. 

From our understanding (since Korean is not the language we speak), the S Pen Creator Edition offers the same sensitivity level as its regular S Pen, but it has 10° more angle and tilt support for its input. This allows the S Pen Creator Edition to be even more precise than regular ones, heightened further with a customised grip that’s even more comfortable for longer use.

Better integration with each generation

Galaxy Tab S9 series also saw some tweaks in its software, albeit most were for extra partnerships to milk greater app-to-device compatibility.

First is Multi Window, which now displays as three apps in an organised grid. Alternatively, there’s Pop-Up View that offers floating windows above the full Home Screen.

Partnerships include GoodNotes, which offers journaling on Android devices — Samsung managed to get them to launch a tablet version that’s also optimised for the Galaxy Tab S9 series.

Another is LumaFusion, a video editing app, and ArcSite, a 2D CAD blueprint app.

Clip Studio Paint’s Android tablet app is also further optimised, with better intuitive controls inside the drawing software.

Finally, the Multi Control built-in feature that used to exist only between Galaxy Book notebooks and Galaxy smartphones is now present in the Galaxy Tab S9 series. That means you can copy, paste, and drag both text and images between a Galaxy S phone and the new tablets seamlessly. This also makes Multi Control the first time it’s properly coming to Singapore users of Samsung’s products.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series tablets, which include the S9, S9+ and S9 Ultra, are up for pre-orders from 26 July 2023 onwards. They officially go on sale on 11 August 2023, starting from S$1,128 (Tab S9, 128GB, Wi-Fi only), and going up to S$1,888 (Tab S9 Ultra, 256GB, 5G version).

More localized availability information and promotions can be found in our Galaxy Tab S9 series’ launch coverage.

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