There's no denying the fact that the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is one of the best Samsung tablets in 2023, but the ultimate question remains, should you buy one? This year's new tablet lineup is the continuation of the shakeup from last year when Samsung launched three flagship models, including the very first Ultra model for its Galaxy Tab S series.
As the successor to Samsung's biggest and most powerful tablet, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has a lot of boxes to check. Does it hold up to expectations, and does it justify an upgrade? Continue reading our Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra review to find out.
The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is a seriously big tablet, measuring in at 326.4 x 208.6 x 5.5mm and dominated by a 14.6-inch display on the front. It's put together very well and the all-metal unibody construction makes it a truly premium product. Samsung hasn't made any major changes to the design compared to last year, the only noticeable changes are the minor adjustments to the camera sensors that now have the same design language as the Galaxy S23 series.
It almost boggles the mind how a tablet of this capability can be so thin and yet the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra remains so thin despite all of the spec upgrades that it has received. The 730g weight doesn't feel too much since the device is balanced very well, so using this larger tablet isn't awkward.
The S Pen that ships in the box attaches to the magnetic strip at the back. There's also a microSD card slot and a USB-C port. By now you should know that none of Samsung's high-end products come with a 3.5mm headphone jack. One noteworthy improvement that the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra brings is IP68 water resistance. This has been a long-standing demand of its customers and its great to see that Samsung has done what they've asked for.
Display and sound
The 14.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X 120Hz puts the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra in a class of its own. The panel has an adaptive refresh rate this time around, so it can adjust the rate depending on the content, thereby improving the battery life. The panel is also brighter than last year so it's a treat to look at and using it outdoors under direct sunlight is more pleasant now. Samsung's notched display makes a return with slim bezels to maximize the immersive experience the panel provides.
It's just a great canvas for your creativity and since productivity is the cornerstone of this product, the display provides you with plenty of screen real estate to get some serious work done. It's also exceptional for entertainment with bright and vibrant colors.
Samsung has improved the AKG-tuned quad speakers this year and made them 20% louder compared to last year. It's a noticeable change that elevates the audio experience on the tablet. The sound quality is exceptional as well.
Seeing how it's powered by the flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, you can imagine that the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra provides best-in-class performance, and it does that without breaking a sweat. You can configure the tablet with 12GB RAM and 256/512GB storage or 16GB RAM and 1TB storage.
There's more than enough power here to make the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, depending on how you use one, your laptop replacement. Whether it's serious multi-tasking or rendering video to playing memory intensive games, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra does all of that effortlessly with plenty still left in the tank.
We used it extensively for editing short form video content using the LumaFusion app and the tablet kept up with the workload easily. When exporting the finished video, its nearly twice as fast as last year's model. Quick Share speeds are 3x faster compared to the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra, so sharing large files becomes a breeze. It's safe to say that whatever you can throw at it, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra can withstand very well.
The 13-megapixel primary sensor on the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra takes decent pictures with color reproduction that's accurate enough. The ultra-wide sensor gets an upgrade to 8-megapixel compared to 6-megapixel last year, and this contributes to the improved quality. These cameras aren't obviously going to be exceptional, then again, tablet cameras rarely need to be, so these sensors are good enough for what they're supposed to do.
That display notch we spoke about earlier retails the dual 12-megapixel + 12-megapixel ultra-wide cameras. Samsung's auto-framing technology pans the camera to ensure you always remain in the frame when on a video calls comes in handy as well.
You'll get the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra with Android 13 and One UI 5.1.1 out of the box. Samsung has introduced a handful of new software features to let users extract more productivity and performance from the tablet.
For example, the taskbar has been updated and can now show up to four recent apps, a minor yet very meaningful change that lets you quickly jump between the apps you've used most recently. Productivity features like Multi-Active Window that users are quite familiar with by now are also present. The DeX platform from Samsung is also onboard, providing you with a PC-like interface to improve productivity.
It's also worth noting that Samsung has expanded its software partnerships, like the one with LumaFusion, to bring more third-party creative and productive apps to its flagship tablets so that users can get more work done on the move.
Like the model before it, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is going to receive four Android OS upgrades and five years of security updates, so you're sorted for a long time if you buy it.
Samsung ships the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra with an S Pen so you don't need to buy it separately. It attaches to the back magnetically and can now charge in both directions. The S Pen is a solid productivity aid that flows effortlessly on the display, providing a near pen-on-paper feel.
This is probably the best Samsung device to enjoy the S Pen experience on, primarily because of its massive display. If you love using the S Pen, this tablet is definitely the one for you.
The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has the same 11,200mAh battery as its predecessor and supports 45W fast charging, however, a 10% improvement in battery life is noticeable right off the bat. A lot of that is largely due to the newer and more efficient chipset. Once you use it for a couple of weeks and the device understands your usage patterns, it may even provide a bit more longevity.
Simply put, you wouldn't need to worry about the battery life, even as you push it to the limits. There's going to be more than enough juice to get you through the work day and with some still left in the tank to get in a couple of episodes of your favorite show in the evening.
The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is everything you need it to be, and more. You're buying it with the expectation of getting a tablet that has laptop replacement potential and delivers the kind of performance no other tablet on the market can. It's also water resistant so Samsung has even taken up the durability a notch, which is a welcome change.
It blends that nicely with its ability to also be an exceptional entertainment device. When compared to last year's model, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has subtle variances, but it's those variances that make it a worthy upgrade even if you bought the Galaxy Tab S8 Ultra.
Starting at $1,199, there's no denying that the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is a very expensive tablet, but you're also getting a product unlike any other in its class for that price. It's also futureproof, so you can use it for the next few years and the specs will be more than enough, while Samsung's software upgrade guarantee will ensure that you get all of the new features for four years.
This is as good as ever a tablet from Samsung and if you're in the market to buy a top-of-the-line tablet, it's a no-brainer to buy the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra.