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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – The Ultra Laptop Replacement
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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – The Ultra Laptop Replacement

by August 12, 2023
Positives

+ Powerful performance
+ Decent battery life
+ Huge, excellent OLED display
+ Lightweight, portable
+ Satisfying quad speakers
+ Excellent multitasking capabilities
+ S Pen included inside the box

Negatives

- Definitely needs a case, especially for it to stand
- Android apps need more optimizations for tablets
- Charging speed needs improvement
- Pricey

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Pokde Rating
Appearance
8.0
Efficiency
7.5
Features
9.0
Materials
8.0
Performance
8.5
Portability
8.5
User Experience
8.5
Value
7.5
Bottom Line

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is an excellent tablet for both multimedia-heavy consumers and creatives.

8.2
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Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Box

Starting off the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review with the unboxing, the packaging comes in the form of a rather thin, albeit large, white box. It’s minimalistic and pretty much goes in line with the design of other Samsung products. Inside, we found the following items:

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Box content

  • Documentations
  • SIM ejector tool
  • USB-C to USB-C cable
  • S Pen
  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

Specifications

Display 14.6″ Dynamic AMOLED 2X
60Hz to 120Hz refresh rate
SoC Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
RAM 12GB / 16GB
Storage 256GB / 512GB / 1TB (expandable)
Audio Quad Stereo Speakers with Sound by AKG, Dolby Atmos
Front camera 12MP wide angle + 12MP ultrawide
Rear camera 13MP wide angle with AF, 8MP ultra-wide
Battery 11,200mAh
Size 326.4 x 208.6 x 5.5 mm
Weight 732g to 737g
Color Beige, Graphite

Performance

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Antutu v10

Starting off the benchmark suite with Antutu v10, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra had a very impressive showing, easily taking the top spot in our list of benchmarked devices. While it uses the same chip found in the flagship smartphones, I believe it had edge over those same devices due to its bigger size. Why so? Bigger size means more places for heat to dissipate, and that makes it easier for it to run more consistently, at least in theory.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Geekbench 6

The difference isn’t as apparent in Geekbench 6 however, as it seems to be more on par to smartphones running the same chip. This isn’t a bad thing however, as the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 is indeed a powerful chip. Likely in this case, it’s easier to retain a more consistent performance as it might not be as intensive as the previous test since it none of the devices felt hot right after it was done.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited

Moving on to 3DMark Wild Life Unlimited, it once again came on top among our list of benchmarked devices but there is one bit of data that I find interesting here. With the exception of the OnePlus 11 and ROG Phone 7 Ultimate, all of the devices had a notable drop in the stability rating. In simpler terms, as the test continues to run, the performance continues to drop. The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra isn’t so bad, at 69.3%, but it’s interesting since I figured the bigger size would make for a more effective heatsink, and I expected it to be at least 90%. Perhaps some optimization work is due.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – PCMark Work 3.0

Lastly on PCMark’s Work 3.0 benchmark, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra appears to be on par with every other device running the same chip. The top of the scoreboard can be discarded as it’s running on X-Mode, which intentionally pushes out all the power it has with little to no heed to efficiency, but I’m putting it in for reference. Either way, it shows that it’s more than capable of being a reliable daily driver, and you might just get more out of this given the noticeably bigger screen real estate along with the S Pen.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Battery endurance test

For those of you are wondering about its battery life, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra lasted 7 hours and 36 minutes (456 minutes) in PCMark’s Work 3.0 endurance test. This may seem pretty low, especially given its humongous 11,200mAh battery capacity but keep in mind, it also has a significantly larger screen, at 14.6-inches, which is clearly the reason why the battery drains much faster than smartphones. Generally speaking, you shouldn’t have any trouble using this without a charger with at least 7-8 hours of screen on time, perhaps even longer if you let the refresh rate automatically change between 60Hz and 120Hz. As for charging speed, here’s what we got with a 3rd party 100W GaN charger from 2% battery:

  • 15 minutes = 18%
  • 30 minutes = 35%
  • 45 minutes = 49%
  • 60 minutes = 64%
  • 75 minutes = 78%
  • 90 minutes = 89%
  • 102 minutes = 100%

It’s worth noting that it only supports up to 45W for charging.

Camera

Normally for tablets, we don’t really bother with the camera since no one really uses it. However, I figured I should at least mention and show a little bit of photo samples. It’s actually not bad but only for the main wide angle cameras in the front and rear as the ultrawide has very noticeable digital noise, resulting in grainy pictures. For the wide angle cameras, it doesn’t focus as fast as its modern day smartphone counterparts and pictures aren’t exactly sharp but it’s still pretty decent for what it is. So what would be the point of these cameras? Video conference calls of course.

The Good

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Display

There are a good number of reasons to consider getting the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. For starters, the display puts it leagues above the competitions level. It’s a monstrous 14.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, the same kind you find on flagship Samsung smartphones, with refresh rate going between 60Hz to 120Hz. Colours are vivid and punchy while the brightness is more than adequate even for outdoor use. Moreover, the 16:10 aspect ratio gives a little bit more screen real estate, which is always great to have. You can’t compare it to the likes of gaming monitors for speed but purely from a visual perspective, it’s a treat for the eyes and I’m sure creatives will love.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – S Pen slot for charging

The latter part is especially true given that the S Pen is included for free inside the box. If you’re familiar with Samsung tablets, then you know that this is the full-sized S Pen, making it pretty easy to wield. You get full access to all of the S Pen gestures, making it easier to interact with the tablet, but the most notable improvement is the tactile feedback, giving it a more pen-to-paper feel compared to before, especially when combined with audio. While you do need to charge it, it’s pretty easy as all you need to do is magnetically stick it to the rear, near the camera, and you’re good to go. In this regard, Samsung is unrivaled.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Sound by AKG

When you add the quad speakers, tuned by AKG, on this tablet into mind, then you’ll realize what a multimedia beast it truly is. Compared to its predecessor, the speakers have gotten roughly 20% larger, and this results in higher volumes along with more notable bass. Audio quality is still pretty much the same but it’s already pretty good to begin with. Typically, it’s geared more towards the mid to high end sounds, making vocals crystal clear overall, but keep in mind not to set the volume too high as it will end up sounding crackly and hollow. Overall, I’m pretty satisfied with the speakers.

If you’re looking at this tablet specifically, highly likely you’re looking for something to replace your laptop at times. You’d be happy to know that despite its size, it’s a very portable tablet. It’s thin and it only weighs a little above 700g. Adding the Samsung Book Cover Keyboard gives you the full keyboard and touchpad experience without adding too much heft. I dare say when you combine both, the weight is comparable to a 13-inch ultraportable laptop. If you want it to be even more portable, you can opt for the Tab S9+ and you won’t lose out on features.

In case you missed it, click right here for our coverage of the entire Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series lineup.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Multitasking

Lastly, Samsung has done an excellent job with their One UI interface for tablets as they’ve made multitasking easy. Essentially, it’s Android’s own multitasking tools but tweaked via One UI, letting you have multiple app windows open at once, have the ability to share elements in between windows like dragging and dropping texts and pictures, and resize them as you see fit. You may need to spend a bit of time to familiarize on how to go about it, but it shouldn’t take long. If you prefer a more PC-like experience and you have the Book Cover Keyboard, there’s always Samsung DeX. However, do temper your expectations as it’s simulating a PC experience and still running mobile versions of apps.

The Bad

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – Dual front cameras

As good as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is, it does have its fair share of drawbacks. For starters, its humongous size means you will need to use with a case. This is to ensure adequate protection for the tablet, but also to add the ability for it to stand. I would argue that the latter is more important as you don’t often damage a tablet, and holding it up can be tiring after a while but either way, you definitely need a case for it with these things in mind.

Secondly, while Samsung has done a good job with the UI, there are plenty of Android apps that still aren’t optimized for a tablet. You can tell very easily because the text or in-app buttons are basically the same on smartphone, but much bigger. If Google wants to make Android tablets more viable, they definitely need to figure out how to make apps more optimized / scale better for larger displays. This work will also end up benefiting foldables like the Z Fold5 as well moving forward.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review – USB-C port

Next up, while the battery life is good for what it is, the charging speed could certainly use an improvement. Given its enormous battery capacity, it’s no surprise why it took a while for it to fully charge, with the general expectation being 90 to 120 minutes. If they can bump up the 45W support to 65 or 90W across the entire series, that would certainly make it more attractive for consumers.

Lastly, while the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is capable of replacing a laptop, the price would certainly make people think twice. The price starts at RM5,999 for the 256GB Wi-Fi only edition, and goes all the way up to RM7,149 for the 512GB LTE-supported version. On the plus side, you do get the keyboard to go along with it so you’re practically ready to get it up and running right out of the box, complete with the S Pen. However, it will be a tough decision to make as that price can also get you a good laptop. It ultimately boils down to your use case and the software you need but if you’re already within the Samsung ecosystem, it would make sense to lean more towards this.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Verdict

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is an excellent tablet for both multimedia-heavy consumers and creatives. It’s also great that you essentially have the complete package immediately after buying it since they’re including the keyboard and the S Pen is inside the box. Ultimately, it depends on whether you’d prefer a laptop or are willing to make the jump to this. Personally, the Tab S9+ is the better value purchase, but the Ultra is the better package overall.

At the end of our Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review, I award this tablet with our coveted Gold Pokdeward.

Pokdeward-Gold

Big thanks to Samsung Malaysia for sending us this tablet for the purpose of this review.

About The Author
Aiman Maulana
Jack of all trades, master of none, but oftentimes better than a master of one. YouTuber, video editor, tech head, and a wizard of gaming. What's up? :)