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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ Unboxing & Hands-on: S Pen & Large Display on a Budget
November 7, 2023 Andrew Cheng

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is essentially a more budget-friendly – but still quite premium – version of the Korean company’s flagship Galaxy Tab S9+. Now, even though the S9 FE+ scales down on some hardware, it still retains many of its higher-end sibling’s main selling points, including a large display and the much loved S Pen.

Granted, starting at RM2,799, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ still costs quite a bit of money. But if you want a tablet with a large display and the utility of an excellent stylus – there’s no denying that the S Pen is a really, really good stylus – then you should seriously consider the Tab S9 FE+.

Just like Samsung’s more premium products, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ has a minimalist packaging. It comes in a slim box, with most of the space being taken up by the tablet itself, which is wrapped in a rather nice paper packaging. Yes, it doesn’t come with any charger, though you do get a USB-C to USB-C cable underneath the tablet.

Aside from the charging cable, there are also some paper documentations and the S Pen itself in the packaging. Depending on which colour of the Tab S9 FE+ you get – this is the Lavender model – the S Pen will come in a matching colour. It’s a nice touch on Samsung’s part.

Just like its more expensive sibling, the S Pen of the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ magnetically attaches to the back of the tablet for easy storage. It holds on to the tablet quite securely too, so it shouldn’t fall off too easily – at least, not in normal use.

Using the S Pen on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is (not surprisingly) a very pleasant experience. It feels fluid, responsive, and the pressure sensitivity is quite good too, from what I can tell. If you plan to do a lot of writing or drawing on a tablet – though I’m not exactly the target audience – this tablet could be ideal for you.

Next, we have the display of the Tab S9 FE+. Unlike the higher-end Tab S9+ with a stunning Dynamic AMOLED 2X display, this tablet has a more modest 12.4-inch 2560 x 1600 TFT LCD screen with a 90Hz refresh rate. While it’s not quite as impressive as an AMOLED panel, it’s still a pleasant screen to look at.

Yes, the black levels on the LCD display of the Tab S9 FE+ are not quite as deep, but it still has punchy, vibrant colours with relatively wide viewing angles. By no means does this look like a “cheap” screen, which is apt for a tablet that sits at this price point.

In the performance side of things, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is powered by Samsung’s very own Exynos 1380 chipset, which feels…reasonably fast in my brief time with the tablet. However, this is still a mid-tier processor, so it’s not exactly in the same league as the Tab S9+’s much more capable Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset.

That being said, the Tab S9 FE+ is also a more affordable tablet. After all, the Tab S9+ starts at a steep RM4,599, while the S9 FE+ retails from RM2,799; that’s quite a big price gap. Plus, depending on how you plan to use the tablet, the Exynos 1380 may be powerful enough for your usage.

Other noteworthy specifications of the Tab S9 FE+ include a dual camera system (8MP primary + 8MP ultra-wide), a 12MP selfie camera, up to 12GB of RAM with two expandable storage options (128GB or 256GB), a generous 10,090mAh battery, as well as optional 5G connectivity.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+, as far as first impressions go, does seem like a promising Android tablet. It may not have a fancy AMOLED display or fast flagship-tier chipset, but what it does offer is a large display, great build quality – with IP68 dust and water resistance – and of course, the robust utility of the S Pen; a feature that’s not found on a lot of Android tablets.

While RM2,799 is still quite a bit of money, the Tab S9 FE+ could very well command that price tag. Until I’ve spent enough time with the tablet for the full review, I’ll reserve judgment on the tablet. For what it’s worth, I do look forward to using the Tab S9 FE+ more extensively.

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