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AMOLED is all it'd take for the Galaxy Tab S9 to win me over

The Galaxy Tab S9 could restore the series to its former glory if it gains an AMOLED display.

Published onJuly 25, 2023

Update: AMOLEDs for everyone! Yes, every Galaxy Tab S9 now has a glorious AMOLED display. Find out more in our Galaxy Tab S9 hub.

Original article: Android tablets have begun gaining momentum once again and the number of manufacturers throwing their hat in the ring has only increased of late. But if you wanted to buy an Android tablet three to five years ago, Samsung dominated the market at just about every price point. That was right around the time I picked up a Galaxy Tab S5e for my household. But even though I’ve considered replacing it over the years, Samsung simply didn’t offer a compelling upgrade path. More specifically, the company hasn’t paired an AMOLED display with the classic 11-inch Galaxy Tab form factor in nearly four years.

When the Galaxy Tab S7 series launched in 2020, Samsung chose to segment its product line in a rather curious manner. Unlike its predecessors, the base model 11-inch Tab S7 would no longer feature the company’s signature Super AMOLED display technology, reverting to LCD instead. Owners of premium Samsung tablets since 2014’s Galaxy Tab S series recognized this as a clear downgrade.

Samsung killed my enthusiasm for the Galaxy Tab series with the move to LCD.

For AMOLED aficionados such as myself, Samsung still offered its better display tech on the higher-end Tab S7 Plus and Tab S8 Plus tablets. However, those cost a pretty penny more at $900 and stretched the display’s proportions to 12.4 inches — larger than I would like for a tablet. So even though I’ve wanted to upgrade my Galaxy Tab S5e, I couldn’t bring myself to buy the new base models with worse displays, nor did I want a larger and more expensive Plus or Ultra tablet.

Do you want an AMOLED display on the Galaxy Tab S9?

1528 votes

That said, I’m hoping this year will be different. We’re now mere hours away from Samsung’s mid-year Galaxy Unpacked launch event where the company is expected to debut its next-gen foldables and tablets. Credible rumors indicate that the entire Tab S9 series may feature AMOLED panels. That means business as usual for the Plus and Ultra variants, but it’s an unequivocal upgrade to the smallest model. For the first time in nearly four years, Samsung could have an 11-inch tablet I can’t resist upgrading to.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S8 with S Pen
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

But why do I care about AMOLED so much? I’ve written at length about display technologies and extolled the virtues of OLED televisions, but on a tablet, it essentially boils down to contrast and visual comfort in darker environments. Whether I’m reading an ebook in dark mode or watching a movie with black bars at night, it’s hard to overlook the splotchy grays and uneven perimeter glow you get with LCD displays. There are ways to mitigate these problems using local dimming or miniLED backlights, but Samsung employed neither technique on the Tab S7 or S8.

It also doesn’t help that Samsung’s tablets feature relatively wide aspect ratios, making them better suited for media consumption than more square-ish tablets like the iPad. So when it’s time to dim the lights and watch a movie, you’d want the best experience possible. But after owning a different LCD-equipped tablet, I can confidently say that I’d much rather watch content on my smaller smartphone because of the better picture quality. Needless to say, that renders the whole point of tablet ownership moot.

Samsung's cheapest smartphones pack AMOLED displays, leaving no excuse for a $700 tablet.

I wouldn’t care so much about Samsung’s tablets missing AMOLED panels if the company didn’t also fit the same technology into its sub-$300 smartphones. While those phones undoubtedly use older panels, it’s still a bit odd to see the same company’s premium $700 tablet lack this feature. I can’t imagine that the Tab S’s bill of materials has inflated so much over the years that Samsung can no longer afford to add a once-staple feature. And if so, why has the price steadily crept up at the expense of beloved features?

My Tab S5e isn’t badly in need of an upgrade, but it does lack plenty of nice-to-have features like HDR playback and extra processing power. So if Samsung doesn’t show up with a compelling upgrade this year, I will have no choice but to hold out for a bit longer. Or maybe it’s time to hang up my hat and switch to a cheap Android tablet where I can get better value for my dollar.

We’ll know for sure tomorrow and, until then, I’m holding hope that the new base model Tab S9 will have an AMOLED panel.

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