The Cheaper Version of the Best Android Tablet: Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Variants and Design
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE, also known as the Fan Edition, is the more affordable alternative for consumers with normal budgets and moderate expectations. Samsung has introduced two variants of the tablet: a 10.9-inch version and a 12.4-inch version, both equipped with an LCD screen and mid-performance Exynos chipset.
In terms of design, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE closely resembles the standard model. It features a brushed aluminum case and comes with almost identical weight and dimensions. The similarities are so significant that accessories designed for the Galaxy Tab S9 can be easily used with the FE model. Samsung has even retained the IP68 certification, a characteristic rarely found in tablets within this price range.
Features and Differences
Despite the similarities in design, there are a few key differences between the Galaxy Tab S9 FE and the standard model. One noticeable change is the absence of the S Pen zone on the FE model. This feature is specifically marked on the back of the standard S9, making it clear that the S Pen can be used with it. However, the FE version does not come with this dedicated space for the stylus.
Screen and Performance
Another difference is the type of screen used. While the Galaxy Tab S9 series offers OLED screens across all models, including the basic Tab S9, the FE version opts for an LCD screen. This decision helps keep the price lower and ensures that the premium tablet offering is differentiated in a way that leaves no room for interpretation.
In terms of performance, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE features a mid-range Exynos chipset. Although it may not offer the same level of performance as the higher-end models, it still provides a smooth and responsive experience for everyday tasks and multimedia consumption.
Pricing and Conclusion
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE is a cost-effective alternative for those who want a reliable Android tablet without breaking the bank. While it may lack some of the premium features found in the standard model, such as the S Pen zone and OLED screen, it still offers a solid performance and a sleek design. Considering its competitive pricing and the ability to use accessories from the standard model, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is certainly a worthy choice for budget-conscious consumers.
Design and Display
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE offers a sleek design that is reminiscent of its higher-end counterpart, the S9 model. However, there are a few notable differences that indicate cost cuts. For instance, the S Pen included in the FE accessory package can be conveniently placed on either the back of the tablet or on the side frame.
Additionally, the tablet features an LCD screen instead of an OLED display. While this may be seen as a compromise, the LCD screen is well-lit and offers vivid colors and excellent image clarity. Although it lacks HDR10 and the perfect black reproduction found in OLED solutions, it still performs more than decently.
Fingerprint Sensor and Audio
One noticeable change in the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is the relocation of the fingerprint sensor. It is now integrated into the Power button on the side frame. Despite this alteration, the capacitive sensor is easily accessible and provides fast fingerprint recognition, almost comparable to the optical solution found under the screen in more expensive models.
Another sacrifice made in terms of cost reduction is the abandonment of the four-speaker configuration. The S9 FE only has two speakers designed for stereo listening in landscape mode. This means that if you prefer to watch TikTok videos in a vertical position, you may experience a less than ideal audio experience with the top-bottom speaker arrangement.
On the bright side, the sound quality itself, tuned by AKG, is of good fidelity. It can reach a reasonable volume without any noticeable distortion problems.
Comparisons to the S9 Model
When comparing the Galaxy Tab S9 FE to the more expensive S9 model, it may be challenging to spot the differences at a glance. The S9 FE holds its own, even when placed side by side with its pricier counterpart.
While the S9 FE may not have all the bells and whistles of the S9, such as the OLED display and the four-speaker configuration, it still manages to offer a reliable and efficient tablet experience. If you are looking for a more affordable option that provides similar performance and features, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is definitely worth considering.
The Cheaper Version of the Best Android Tablet: Galaxy Tab S9 FE REVIEW
A Credible Alternative?
So can the Galaxy Tab S9 FE be a credible alternative to Tab S9? Starting with a good first impression, the temptation would be to say yes. But, as always, the truth is somewhere in between.
With a price of $450 for the basic FE equipment compared to the $800 for the Tab S9, it’s hard to say no to a tablet like this. The assembly finishes and feeling are all right and the screen, even if it’s LCD, is not bad at all.
However, you will fully feel the difference elsewhere, specifically in the performance difference between the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor used by Tab S9, which is also found on the S23 Ultra, and Samsung’s proprietary Exynos 1380 on the FE, also found on the Galaxy A54, for example. The performance levels firmly position the Galaxy Tab S9 FE outside the circle of power users.
Delivered with only 6GB of RAM in the basic configuration, the Tab S9 FE should at least be ordered in the 8GB/256GB memory version to enter that specification area for which Samsung optimizes the One UI firmware in the long term.
And speaking of One UI, the current Samsung firmware based on Android 14 and One UI 6.0 seems a bit unfinished. Even if I didn’t come across serious bugs, the fluidity of the interface and the tendency to “hang” at times contrast strongly with the One UI 5.1 experience on the Tab S9.
I tend to believe that the weaker chipset is not the problem here, but rather the firmware part.
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE: A Cheaper Version with Some Limitations
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE is a more affordable option compared to its counterpart, the Galaxy Tab S9. While both tablets offer similar features and optimizations, the FE version does have some limitations.
Software and Features
One UI features are essentially the same for both tablet series. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE comes with a range of applications and optimizations, including support for the S Pen. However, the FE series is not designed for power users, as it restricts the use of DEX mode and external monitor connectivity.
Nevertheless, you can still use the Book Cover keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse set to emulate a mini laptop or PC. The Dex experience is decent, although it’s best to limit yourself to running no more than two apps simultaneously on the 10.9″ screen. Additionally, if you want Air Actions support, you will need to purchase the S Pen Pro accessory separately, as the one included in the package does not offer this option.
The gaming experience on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is surprisingly decent. There are no noticeable stuttering or lag effects, making it enjoyable for gaming enthusiasts. However, it’s important to note that in demanding games like PUBG, the detail level is automatically reduced to medium for a playable framerate.
Performance and Battery Life
Considering the chipset used, it’s no surprise that the tablet doesn’t heat up significantly during use. Samsung claims that the 8000 mAh battery can provide over 20 hours of video playback autonomy, which is impressive for extended usage.
When it comes to charging, Samsung states that the tablet supports 45W fast charging. However, during my testing, I used a 65W AC adapter and a USB C cable certified for 45W charging with original Samsung accessories. The power consumed measured only around 36-37W, and it took nearly 90 minutes for a full charge.
The Camera Features
In terms of camera features, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE offers a 12MP main camera and an 8MP front camera. While they may not perform exceptionally well in artificial lighting conditions, they are sufficient for video calls and quick snapshots when you don’t have your phone handy. Additionally, the tablet allows you to film in up to 4K resolution at 30 fps, which is a great feature for capturing high-quality videos.
The Essential Accessory: Outdoor Cover
One of the recommended accessories for the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is the Outdoor Cover. This protective case is particularly useful for those who have small children or tend to be a bit clumsy. Built with durability in mind, the Outdoor Cover is made of hard plastic, providing crush and twist protection. The rubber side frame adds shock and impact protection, ensuring the tablet’s safety even in accidental drops. Moreover, the case comes with a retractable stand, allowing you to place the tablet in landscape mode for easier viewing. It also features a specially designed compartment to secure the S Pen accessory, protecting it from damage and accidental loss. However, it is important to note that the Outdoor Cover adds considerable thickness and weight to the tablet, so if you don’t anticipate rough handling, you may want to explore other Samsung case options.
The Upgrade: S Pen Creator Edition
Another noteworthy optional accessory for the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is the S Pen Creator Edition. This pen is a significant upgrade from the standard S Pen included with the tablet. Notable features of the Creator Edition include support for Air Actions, allowing you to control certain functions with gestures. This enhanced version of the S Pen provides a more seamless and interactive experience, making it an attractive choice for those who frequently use the pen for various tasks.
In conclusion, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE offers a range of features and accessories that enhance its functionality and user experience. From the camera capabilities to the protective cases and the upgraded S Pen, there are options to suit different needs and preferences. Whether you’re a content creator, a busy professional, or a casual user, these accessories and features add value to the tablet and make it a versatile device for everyday use.
The S Pen Creator Edition
If the first can be thought of as a pen or pencil with a thin tip, the S Pen Creator Edition is a little heavier and thicker enough to feel like you’re using a real pencil and not something “toy-like.” Helpful is also the tip that very well imitates the shape of a drawing pencil lead. However, to avoid the feeling of slipping on the glossy glass, I also recommend the Note Paper Screen accessory. As the name suggests, this is like a kind of film made of transparent plastic and is placed over the display. The matte type foil has a specially chosen texture to mimic the feeling of sliding on real paper, and I think it’s a must-have if you know you will work a lot with the pen.
S Pen Compatibility and Performance
The good part is that, whichever S Pen version you choose to use, you won’t have problems with lag or insufficient sensitivity, both working flawlessly, as you would expect from a latest generation Samsung device.
The Galaxy Buds FE
And speaking of accessories, let’s discuss a bit about the new Galaxy Buds FE. Worth watching in future promotional campaigns, the Buds FE come at $100 and are a good alternative to the Galaxy Buds2 Pro, which were around $220 at launch. Both are offered in almost identical cases with a matte finish and the Samsung logo embossed on the Buds2 Pro case, respectively. The Buds FE case, on the other hand, features glossy plastic and a printed logo. The Buds2 Pro have a slightly rounder shape, touch operation, and feel a bit heavier in hand.
The Cheaper Version of the Best Android Tablet: Galaxy Tab S9 FE Review
In contrast, Buds FE have more easily noticeable joint areas and don’t feel quite as premium. Fortunately, the performance differences between the two aren’t that big. Tested side by side both have decent bass and a decently high volume.
Impressive Audio Quality with Buds2 Pro
The Hi-Fi sensation is clearly superior on the Buds2 Pro, which come with dedicated speakers for bass and mid-highs. Hence, probably the noticeable weight difference. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say it disappoints, listening on the Buds FE has some downsides regarding the playback of mid-high frequencies, with some instruments and nuances being covered by the strong bass. The noise-canceling functionality is also clearly weaker on the FE, with Buds2 Pro maintaining a decisive advantage here. Overall, the Buds FE are certainly not to be avoided, but neither to be bought blindly at full price.
A Closer Look at the SmartTag2
And last but not least, the interesting accessory of today is the SmartTag2. Along with the Tab S9 FE, Samsung also unveiled the latest version of the SmartTag accessory. Even though it retains the basic functionality unchanged, SmartTag2 comes with a much-improved exterior design and extra features like ultra-wideband connectivity, which was only found in the SmartTag Plus series, so far. If the first SmartTag version was rather rudimentary in design, shaped like a slightly thicker plastic coin, SmartTag2 is a much more refined gadget that you’ll probably hate to hide somewhere in your luggage. However, Samsung has also made changes that you might not like, with SmartTag2 no longer being as invisible as the first generation.
The Cheaper Version of the Best Android Tablet: Galaxy Tab S9 FE
If the former was basically a coin that you could easily attach anywhere, you needed, the new version is more like a stylish keychain, with Samsung seeming to want to get rid of the undesired stalker accessory image used by jealous lovers.
SmartTag2 with Enhanced Attachments
Instead, you can attach the SmartTag2 to a belt or other thicker objects than a cord. And if you really want full flexibility, know that there is also a Rugged Case equipped with a self-locking ring working like a hook for attaching to various objects, such as luggage or a pet’s collar.
Programmable Function Button
Samsung has also kept the programmable function button. For example, you can set an emergency message from the SmartThings app with a simple button press, sending an SMS with your location data to a trusted person. However, it should be mentioned that this functionality is not guaranteed in every situation. For example, if you are in an isolated location and there is no other nearby device to relay the triggered alert.
Is the Galaxy Tab S9 FE a Credible Alternative?
Alright, now that we’re done with the accessories, let’s answer that thousand-point question: is the Galaxy Tab S9 FE a credible alternative to the Tab S9? The answer is both yes and no. Yes, if you fall into the category of users targeted by Samsung. Are you a student or simply in need of a tablet to work on, possibly on the go? If so, the Tab S9 FE performs admirably in all these roles.
A Versatile Tablet
Whether you want to use the tablet at home for watching movies, checking emails, or simply wasting time on social media, the Tab S9 FE delivers a satisfying experience. Its powerful performance and crisp display make it a joy to use for multimedia consumption.
Affordable Price Tag
Furthermore, the Tab S9 FE comes at a more affordable price compared to its high-end counterpart. This makes it an attractive option for those on a budget or looking for a cost-effective Android tablet. Samsung has managed to strike a balance between performance and affordability with the Tab S9 FE.
The Cheaper Version of the Best Android Tablet: Galaxy Tab S9 FE REVIEW
It’s a slim and lightweight tablet with premium finishes and enough processing power to handle many scenarios. Moreover, it’s a tablet priced fairly for what it offers.
Not Recommended for Some Users
On the other hand, I don’t recommend the Tab S9 FE if you already own a top-tier phone and want your future tablet to be an extension of it. You will feel the performance difference, and we all know what it’s like to switch between devices that aren’t on the same level.
For Entertainment and Light Productivity
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE is a great option for those who primarily use their tablet for entertainment and light productivity tasks. Its slim profile and lightweight design make it easy to carry around, while the premium finishes give it an elegant look and feel.
With its ample processing power, the Tab S9 FE can handle most everyday scenarios, whether it’s browsing the web, checking emails, or streaming videos. The tablet offers a smooth and responsive user experience, ensuring that you can multitask without any lag or slowdown.
One of the standout features of the Tab S9 FE is its price point. It is priced fairly for what it offers, making it an excellent choice for those who want a high-quality Android tablet without breaking the bank.
Compared to its higher-end counterpart, the Galaxy Tab S9, the Tab S9 FE offers a more budget-friendly option while still delivering a reliable performance. If you don’t require the advanced features of the Tab S9, such as an OLED screen and the latest Snapdragon processor, the Tab S9 FE is a worthy alternative.
Limited for Power Users
However, if you are a power user who wants to do intensive tasks like video editing on a tablet or play demanding games with maximum settings, the Tab S9 FE might not be the best choice for you. It lacks the high-end specifications of its pricier counterpart, which may result in performance limitations for resource-heavy tasks.
If you are willing to compromise on certain aspects, such as screen quality and processing power, for the sake of affordability, then the Tab S9 FE is still a capable tablet for everyday use. It strikes a balance between performance and affordability, making it an attractive option for many users.
In conclusion, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is a solid alternative to the Tab S9 for users who prioritize value for money. With its versatile functionality, stylish design, and affordable price tag, it offers a compelling choice for students and anyone in need of a reliable Android tablet. The Tab S9 FE proves that you don’t always have to break the bank to enjoy a premium tablet experience.
In conclusion, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is a cheaper version of the best Android tablet, the Tab S9. While it may not have all the advanced features and specifications, it still offers a great user experience for those who primarily use their tablet for entertainment and light productivity tasks.
With its slim and lightweight design, premium finishes, and affordable pricing, the Tab S9 FE is worth considering for users who want a reliable and budget-friendly Android tablet. However, power users who require intensive processing power and high-end features may find the Tab S9 to be a more suitable option.