Samsung’s line of FE products are intriguing. Take the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ in this review: while it is a more budget-friendly version of the Galaxy Tab S9+, it still feels very much like a premium product with its aluminium design and IP68 dust and water resistance.
That being said, some sacrifices had to be made to lower the price of the Tab S9 FE+, especially in terms of raw performance and display quality. Depending on your usage and expectations, these shortcomings may be a dealbreaker. But if you want a tablet that offers the utility of the S Pen stylus on a large display, the Tab S9 FE+ really is a compelling product.
What It Is
|Display||12.4-inch WQXGA TFT LCD (2560 x 1600), 90Hz|
|Chipset||Samsung Exynos 1380 2.4GHz octa-core|
|GPU||Arm Mali-G68 MP5|
|Battery||10,090mAh with 45W charging|
|Dimensions||285.4 x 185.4 x 6.5 mm|
|OS||One UI 5.1.1 based on Android 13|
|Connectivity||5G (RM600 option)|
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax
|Price||RM2,799 (8GB + 128GB), RM3,099 (12GB + 256GB)|
Starting at RM2,799, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is quite a bit more affordable than the higher-end Tab S9+, which retails from a cool RM4,599; that’s a rather big RM1,800 price gap. Granted, RM2,799 for the S9 FE+ is still not a small amount of money, though you do get many of the Tab S9+’s features with the tablet, such as the aforementioned S Pen and large 12.4-inch display.
But what are you sacrificing with the Tab S9 FE+ over the Tab S9+? Well, the most noteworthy one is performance. After all, the Tab S9+ is powered by a fast, flagship-tier Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, while the Tab S9 FE+ has a mid-range Exynos 1380 processor instead.
Beyond that, there’s also the display. Rather than the Tab S9+’s bright and vibrant 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel, the Tab S9 FE+ has a more modest 90Hz LCD screen. I’ll elaborate more about the performance level and display quality of the tablet further down the review.
The Good Stuff
To me, the highlight of the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ has to be the S Pen. The fact that the stylus is bundled with the tablet is fantastic, and it can provide a pleasant user experience too. Writing on the tablet with the S Pen feels fluid, responsive, and the pressure sensitivity is quite good as well, from what I can tell.
Basically, if you plan to do a lot of writing or drawing on a tablet – though I’m not exactly the target audience – you should really consider the Tab S9 FE+. I also love the fact that the S Pen can be magnetically attached to the back of the tablet for easy storage.
Another noteworthy feature of the Tab S9 FE+ is its large 12.4-inch 2560 x 1600 TFT LCD display. While the black levels of this display aren’t as good as an AMOLED panel, it’s still able to provide punchy, rich colours with wide viewing angles, much to my surprise. The 90Hz refresh rate can still offer a good level of responsiveness too.
In the software side of things, Samsung’s One UI remains one of the most refined versions of Android I’ve tested. It feels lightweight, it’s intuitive to navigate around the interface, and multitasking is seamless with One UI. Throughout the review period, I didn’t encounter any odd bugs either, which is really a testament to Samsung’s software expertise.
And then we have the battery life of the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+. Sporting a generous 10,090mAh battery, it can provide very respectable battery life on a single charge. I use the tablet mainly for content consumption with some web browsing here and there, and it can easily last me about three days of use before I need to charge it up.
Last but not least is the solid build quality of the Tab S9 FE+. For a product that’s supposed to be more budget-friendly, I’m pleasantly surprised by how premium it feels in my hands, thanks to its aluminium frame and back. With a 6.5mm side profile, it’s quite a slim tablet too.
The Bad Stuff
My biggest qualm with the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is its performance level, which isn’t particularly great. While the Exynos 1380 is zippy enough for day-to-day use, it starts to show its limits in more demanding tasks, such as gaming. In Honkai: Star Rail, for example, the chip can’t run the game at 60fps with maxed out graphics settings.
There’s also the fact that the Tab S9 FE+ is not a lightweight tablet. Tipping the scales at 628g, it is quite uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time. Compare this to the Tab S9+, which is actually lighter at 586g despite the fact that it is almost the same size as the Tab S9 FE+. Granted, it is also a more costly product.
Is It Worth It?
It really comes down to what you look for in an Android tablet. The absolute best selling point of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ is the usefulness of the S Pen. As mentioned, if you are planning to do a lot of writing or drawing on a tablet, the Tab S9 FE+ is a fantastic option to consider.
After all, not a lot of tablets in the Android space offer a stylus that is as refined as the S Pen.
The S Pen, alongside the Galaxy Tab S9 FE+’s sizeable 12.4-inch display, are two features that will determine if this tablet is worth it for you. Well, that, and whether or not you can accept the RM2,799 price tag. For what it’s worth, I do think it’s a reasonable price for an Android tablet of this calibre, and it comes down to the (again) utility of the S Pen.