Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Extremely assessment: A bit of too huge, somewhat too costly

Table of Contents Hide
  1. {Hardware}
  2. Pill mode
  3. Dex mode
  4. Wrap-up

For Samsung, greater is commonly higher. The corporate led the best way in popularizing the big smartphones most of us now use, so it’s no shock that it’s additionally made some shockingly massive tablets lately. On this 12 months’s Galaxy Tab S9 series, there are 11- and 12.4-inch fashions that line up effectively with Apple’s two iPad Execs. After which there’s the $1,200 Galaxy Tab S9 Extremely, a 14.6-inch behemoth that is nonetheless skinny and lightweight for its dimension.

Android tablets have lengthy been a tricky promote, because of the truth that comparatively few builders hassle to optimize their apps for bigger screens. And tablets this huge should not precisely straightforward to carry, both. These information have been prime of thoughts as I attempted to determine who, if anybody, can buy the S9 Extremely. Regardless of my skepticism, Samsung’s mammoth of a pill did handle to shock me with its utility in a number of particular instances.


Once I pulled the S9 Extremely out of its field, I used to be instantly struck by its svelte footprint – it’s solely 0.21 inches thick and weighs 1.6 kilos. In regular Samsung style, the pill feels impeccably stable and well-made. Positive, it is only a huge slab of glass and steel, however what can Samsung fairly be anticipated to do to innovate right here? The pill type issue is fairly settled at this level. What’s most necessary is that Samsung made the system so skinny with out it feeling fragile.

That is backed up by the S9 Extremely’s IP68 water- and dust-resistance certification; Samsung says that is its first Galaxy S pill with that score. It was a reasonably large deal when corporations began making waterproof telephones, nevertheless it feels rather a lot much less vital right here. That stated, if you wish to watch films in your bathtub, you’ll be able to really feel safe that you simply will not instantly destroy your pill if it takes a dip within the water with you.

The S9 Extremely is dominated by its enormous 14.6-inch AMOLED touchscreen. With a 2,960 x 1,848 decision and a 16:10 side ratio, it’s nice for watching films however far too tall to comfortably use in portrait mode. That quibble apart, it seems excellent, with extraordinarily vibrant, vibrant colours and a refresh charge of as much as 120Hz. It additionally helps HDR10+, which might make watching films much more beautiful. Samsung is well-known for its cellular shows, and the one on the S9 Extremely is one other distinctive providing.

Samsung managed to suit glorious audio system into the S9 Extremely as effectively, making it an awesome general possibility for watching films and reveals whilst you’re, for instance, sitting in isolation with Covid. I don’t understand how corporations are capable of make such stable audio system in super-thin gadgets, however I’m glad it’s changing into commonplace on higher-end tablets like this and the iPad Professional.

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There are a number of different minor issues to notice in regards to the S9 Extremely. You’ll discover a pair of front-facing cameras on the lengthy fringe of the show: one normal and one ultrawide, each with 12-megapixel sensors. There’s a tiny notch within the display to make room for them – it’s small, and I principally forgot about it, nevertheless it’s there. On the again are a 13-megapixel normal digicam and an 8-megapixel ultrawide possibility. The entrance cameras labored effectively for a handful of Google Meet calls I took on the system, and the again ones are serviceable as effectively. However pill images is ridiculous, much more so with a tool this massive. As I all the time say, simply use the telephone in your pocket.

Additionally on the again is a magnetic strip that holds and prices the included S Pen stylus. It’s not probably the most intuitive place to retailer the S Pen, and it’s not the simplest goal to search out if you’re retrieving the pen or placing it again. However I obtained used to it fairly shortly and the stylus reliably stayed connected to the again of the S9 Extremely.

Pill mode

Photos of Samsung's Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra tablet.
Picture by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

Because the S9 Extremely doesn’t include a keyboard case, I first got down to use the large system as a pure pill. This… was not my favourite expertise. However first, some positives: the S9 Extremely’s display is excellent, as are the audio system, which made an awesome moveable movie show. And the S9 Extremely’s side ratio meant most content material I watched crammed virtually the whole show.

The S9 Extremely is well-equipped for extra intense duties than watching films. its Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor (paired with 12GB of RAM on the mannequin I examined) is highly effective sufficient for mainly every thing I attempted. Working Adobe Lightroom was a reasonably nice expertise, as there’s loads of room for the varied instruments on one facet and an enormous, detailed preview of every thing you’re doing on the opposite. Samsung doesn’t provide any battery life estimates, however I obtained effectively over 11 hours of use in pill mode, and the system lasted days on standby. Except you’re utilizing it for hours each single day, you received’t need to cost it too typically.

One other use case for the S9 Extremely is as an artist’s canvas. The S Pen is a superb stylus, and Samsung has years of expertise tuning its efficiency. The S Pen is extremely responsive – the corporate says latency has been diminished to 2.8 milliseconds, and I actually felt no lag whereas testing it. I’m no visible artist, so I haven’t been capable of actually push the bounds of what the S Pen and varied Android software program can do, however the combo of a low-lag pen and the S9 Extremely’s large display make it a robust device for visible artists, supplied you could find the proper software program.

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Sadly, the sheer dimension and width of the S9 Extremely means it wasn’t the perfect for different content material consumption. First off, the pill clearly wasn’t designed for use in portrait mode – it’s simply too tall. This can be a downside I’ve discovered with different Android tablets that use related side ratios, however most of these had smaller screens which are somewhat extra manageable. That’s not the case right here, and it simply feels downright odd to make use of – parts on the prime are too distant to comfortably work together with.

Issues are marginally higher in panorama mode, however the primary situation with the S9 Extremely is the truth that there nonetheless aren’t a whole lot of Android apps suited to such massive screens. Some apps (like Instagram) would solely open in portrait orientation, whereas others like Slack merely have an excessive amount of wasted white area. Google has accomplished an awesome job of constructing its personal apps look fairly nice on tablets, and a handful of different key apps I take advantage of like Spotify and Todoist are additionally effectively tailored. However the S9 Extremely simply isn’t designed for issues most individuals use tablets for like looking, messaging, sending emails, enjoying video games and so forth. If that’s what you’re all for, the 11-inch Galaxy Tab S9 can be a extra snug system to make use of that additionally prices much less. The S9 Extremely is proudly a distinct segment system and also you’ll need to know precisely how you can use it earlier than shopping for one.

Dex mode

My expertise with the S9 Extremely modified as soon as I paired it with Samsung’s $200 “Book Cover Keyboard Slim” and a Bluetooth mouse and began working the pill in Dex mode. This fully adjustments the interface from the touch-focused Android UI to one thing extra like Home windows or Chrome OS.

Dex mode jogged my memory a whole lot of utilizing a Chromebook. There’s a navigation bar on the backside that reveals any open app, and you’ll pin issues there to get again to them shortly. As that is an Android pill, all the apps you will have entry to right here come from the Google Play Retailer or Samsung’s personal app retailer. Traditionally, the primary situation with Android tablets is how few Android apps are constructed to make the most of greater screens, and that’s nonetheless the case now.

However, since Dex permits you to resize any app, you may make issues match correctly in home windows with out losing area. For instance, the Slack app nonetheless doesn’t have a left-hand sidebar on Android, not like on desktop or iPadOS. That’s annoying, however no less than I could make Slack narrower, like a phone-sized app that doesn’t have a ton of wasted white area. And apps that do have multi-column interfaces, like mainly all of Google’s first-party software program, are downright nice to make use of.

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Photos of Samsung's Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra tablet.
Picture by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget

My foremost criticism with the S9 Extremely in Dex mode is the truth that Chrome for Android is not fairly as succesful because the desktop model. That permits you to use extensions, has extra options and extra reliably renders websites the best way you’d anticipate. Most issues render effectively, however you might also find yourself getting tossed right into a model of the positioning designed for cellphones, not enormous tablets. However one surprising vibrant spot was discovering that I may run the total net model of Slack in Chrome, an expertise that is rather a lot higher than utilizing the Android app.

Battery life is a bit worse in Dex mode, which wasn’t an enormous shock given what number of apps I used to be shortly leaping between. The pill lasted for round six hours after I was utilizing it as my full-time work system – not horrible, however worse than a whole lot of similarly-priced laptops.

Photos of Samsung's Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra tablet.
Picture by Nathan Ingraham / Engadget


Regardless of the variety of intriguing use instances I discovered for the S9 Extremely, it’s a distinct segment system that received’t make sense for most individuals, largely due to the worth. That’s not a foul factor; area of interest gadgets exist for a purpose, and a few folks can be well-served by this large pill. However $1,200 for the S9 Extremely (plus $200 for the keyboard case, or $350 if you would like an built-in trackpad) is a ton of cash to spend until you will have very particular concepts on the way you’ll use this pill. It doesn’t make sense for me, as I want a smaller pill that I can simply use handheld after which drop right into a keyboard case for getting work accomplished. Nonetheless, for some, the combo of Dex mode, a keyboard and the S9 Extremely’s huge, lovely display may make sense.

Most individuals could be higher off spending their cash on a distinct system, although. As impressed as I’m with Dex, you’ll be able to simply get a laptop computer that may run way more software program for much less cash. And whereas I believe the iPad is a better option for most individuals searching for a pill, those that want Android ought to contemplate Samsung’s personal 11- and 12.4-inch Galaxy Tab S9 and S9+, as they provide mainly the identical specs, high-quality design and glorious screens for much less money. However for those who’re all for having a large pill with an awesome stylus and stable productiveness chops, the S9 Extremely is perhaps value opening your pockets for.

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