Samsung's flagship tablet line has been refreshed for 2023 with the launch of the Galaxy Tab S9 series. Consisting of the Tab S9, the Tab S9 Plus, and the Tab S9 Ultra, while all three look very similar to their Tab S8 predecessors, they have one key difference. The S9 family is the only premium tablet line to pack IP68 water and dust resistance, adding poolside appeal to an already good-looking, pen-toting powerhouse family.
There's much more to these three tablets than an IP rating, with all three showcasing Dynamic AMOLED 2X displays with a smooth 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ credentials. While the baby of the bunch clocks in with a respectable 11-inch screen, the Tab S9 Plus climbs up to 12.4 inches, and the Tab S9 Ultra's screen measures a huge 14.6 inches.
The larger the screen gets, the thinner the Tab S9 measures, with its profile clocking in at 5.9mm on the S9, 5.7mm on the S9 Plus, and the super-skinny S9 Ultra is just 5.5mm. That's not much thicker than the USB-C port that powers the tablet, and makes the contrast between a massive screen and svelte profile seriously impressive.
All three tablets pack S Pens in the box with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, and just like the Galaxy Z Fold 5 S Pen, also announced at Samsung Unpacked 2023, the tablet's stylus is IP68 water resistant as well.
Samsung's kept the camera setup the same year-on-year, and the system you get will depend on which tablet you pick up. The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has the most specced out camera with two on the front, comprised of a 12MP wide and a 12MP ultra-wide.
It also has a dual rear camera system comprising a 13MP primary camera and an 8MP ultra-wide. If you pick up the Plus, you'll be swapping out that dual front camera for a single 12MP module, and the vanilla Tab S9 has a single 13MP rear camera and 12MP front camera.
While most top-tier tablets out now have last-gen processors, the Galaxy Tab S9 line runs with the latest 2023 Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy. This is matched with between 8 and 16GB RAM, depending on which model you pick up.
Given everything it does to level up the Android tablet experience, Samsung cramming in flagship power makes sense. Specifically, we're talking about DeX, which is a desktop interface that emulates a Windows-style UI. While flagship Galaxy phones require you to plug in a big screen to create a DeX-style UI, the Galaxy tablets can fire it up on their tablet displays. Perfect for mouse and keyboard input, it should help the three new releases bridge the gap between play and productivity in a way only iPads have managed to in the past.
Samsung has also announced that the iPadOS favorite notetaking app, GoodNotes, is launching exclusively for the Tab S9 Ultra before its general release. While Samsung's S Notes has already been ahead of the pen-toting Android pack at getting the best from the pen, the Tab S9 line enjoys another tangible benefit compared to other Android tablets. As for whether it can best iPads, that's a different story.
The updated IP68 rating has inspired a new rugged case accessory for the Tab S9 series, and there's also a smart keyboard folio complete with a trackpad, pictured below. This automatically fires up Samsung's desktop mode, DeX, when connected, which is a nice touch.
Which Tab S9 you go for will very likely come down to how much you're prepared to pay, with the prices of all three varying massively, starting at $799 / £799 and climbing up to $1,619 / £1,699.
The Tab S9 costs $799 / £799 with 128GB storage and $919 / £949 with 256GB storage. The Tab S9 Plus starts at $999 / £999 with 256GB and climbs to $1119 / £1,099 with 512GB. Finally, the Tab S9 Ultra costs a punchy $1,199 / £1,199 with 256GB, $1,319 / £1,299 with 512GB, and $1619 / £1549 with 1TB storage. Those are the WiFi model prices, but if you want 5G, add £150 (US pricing varies by cellular provider).
We loved our time with the Tab S8 Ultra and its oversized screen – perfect for multi-window working and editing photos, so if you're after a tablet for creative tasks, check back for our review of the Tab S9 Ultra in the coming weeks.