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Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 vs Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Which should you buy?

You should enjoy the S9 FE, but it means leaving budget pricing behind.
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Published onJanuary 24, 2024

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
MSRP: $449.00
Check price
Positives
Excellent build quality with IP68 rating
Generous software support policy
Loud, clear speakers
Included S Pen
Negatives
Processor slightly underpowered
Light on RAM
Expensive accessories
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 (32GB)
MSRP: $229.99
Check price
Positives
Loud Dolby Atmos speakers
Solid performance
Wide display great for streaming
Negatives
Slow 15W charging
Weak front and rear cameras
Limited base model RAM and storage
The Bottom Line.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 earns its place among the best affordable Android tablets thanks to punchy speakers and a wide display with thin bezels that's perfect for media streaming. Add in the top-tier build quality and you've got a budget slate that more than justifies its $229 asking price.Read full review...

With the exception of Google’s Pixel Tablet, there might as well be one name in town when it comes to quality Android tablets, and that’s Samsung. If you have Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A8 from 2022, you might be considering a step up to the new Galaxy Tab S9 FE, which is costlier but not as expensive as a full-fledged Tab S9. Is it worth the jump?

Update, Jan. 2024: Updated with new prices following the launch of the Galaxy Tab A9.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: At a glance

  • The Galaxy Tab S9 FE sports a bigger, sharper, and smoother display.
  • The S9 FE also offers substantial performance improvements, thanks to a Samsung Exynos processor and more RAM.
  • 32 and 64GB storage options are dropped on the newer tablet, but there's an added 256GB tier, and you still get a microSD slot.
  • Wireless connectivity is improved, as are charging speeds and the front camera.
  • The S9 FE comes bundled with an S Pen, but no charging brick, and there's no more 3.5mm headphone jack.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Specs

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FESamsung Galaxy Tab A8
Display
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
10.9-inch
WUXGA+ (2304 x 1440)
90Hz
LCD
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
10.5-inch 1920 x 1200
60 Hz
LCD
Processor
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Samsung Exynos 1380
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
Unisoc Tiger T618
RAM
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
6GB/8GB
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
3GB/4GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
128GB/256GB
microSD (up to 1TB)
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
32GB/64GB/128GB
microSD (up to 1TB)
Biometrics
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Power button fingerprint scanner
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
None
Audio
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
AKG tuned dual speakers with Dolby Atmos support
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
Quad speakers with Dolby Atmos
3.5mm headphone jack
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Rear:
8MP main

Front:
12MP ultra-wide
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
Rear:
8MP main

Front:
5MP
Power
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
8,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
No charger included
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
7,040mAh
15W wired charging
Charger included
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.3
USB-C
5G (on cellular models only)
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth 5.0
USB-C
4G (on cellular models only)
Software
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Android 13
One UI
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
Android 13 (after update)
One UI
Dimensions
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
254.3 x 165.8 x 6.5mm
523-524g
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
246.8 x 161.9 x 6.9mm
508g
Colors
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Gray, Silver, Mint, and Lavender
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8
Gray, Silver, Pink Gold

As you’d predict leaping from an early 2022 budget tablet to a late 2023 mid-range option, there’s a lot to gain here. For starters the display grows slightly from 10.5 to 10.9 inches, and you get a sharper 2304 x 1440 resolution paired with a smoother 90Hz refresh rate. The A8’s screen is fine, but you’ll notice the difference.

The Tab S9 FE also combines Samsung’s Exynos 1380 processor with at least 6GB of RAM, and 8GB on some models. The A8 performs well enough with its Unisoc Tiger T618 chip, but that and no more than 4GB of RAM puts a low ceiling on what the tablet can achieve — the S9 FE is a much better device for things like gaming or image and video editing.

The Galaxy Tab S9 FE is well ahead in terms of display quality and processing power.

Storage options on the S9 FE switch to 128 or 256GB, completely ditching 32 and 64GB, which is fine considering that those are too small to do much with in 2024. There’s still a microSD slot with support for cards up to 1TB, which is good news if you have a large app or media collection.

Other upgrades on the S9 FE worth mentioning are a fingerprint scanner on the power button — there are no biometrics at all on the A8 — and improved wireless tech including Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, and (on cellular models) 5G instead of just 4G. There’s also a sharper 12-megapixel front camera for video calls, and you get an S Pen in the box instead of having to buy one.

Battery tech has also been improved, but we’ll cover that in a later section. We’ll end this one by noting a couple of downsides — there’s no 3.5mm headphone jack on the S9 FE, and no bundled charger, so you may need to buy some accessories.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Design and size comparison

samsung galaxy tab s9 fe back
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

There isn’t much to talk about here, but that’s actually a good thing. A tablet should be little more than a window into your apps and media, and that’s what you get with both products. There isn’t much aesthetic difference between the two, and some people might even prefer the A8.

The S9 FE (above) is a bit wider, taller, and heavier, but not in any meaningful way. The A8 (below) was already 508g (about 1.1 pounds), so neither tablet is something you want to hold one-handed for more than a few minutes.

samsung galaxy tab a8 back
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Battery life and charging

samsung galaxy tab s9 fe usb c port
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Samsung claims the S9 FE is capable of 18 to 20 hours of video playback. Most people aren’t going to use a tablet that way, so we’ll point out that it has an 8,000mAh battery, substantially larger than the one in the A8, which can already last two days under a mix of streaming, web browsing, and social media. The S9 FE could potentially be more power-hungry owing to its superior display and processor technology, so don’t expect a dramatic leap.

While the new tablet doesn’t ship with a charger, it does offer much faster charging capacity, topping out at 45W versus the A8’s meager 15W. You should be able to fully recharge the S9 FE in as little as 90 minutes — assuming of course you have a USB-C adapter capable of 45W or higher.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Price and availability

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab A8: Starts at $129 (renewed)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Starts at $449

Since Samsung is already selling a Galaxy Tab A9, the A8 is being phased out, available for as little as $129 if you want a renewed 32GB Wi-Fi model. That’s about $100 less than at launch.

The Galaxy Tab S9 FE started shipping to some retailers on October 5, 2023, with wider distribution on October 10. Samsung has been cagey on the roster of countries it’s targeting, but chances are that if Samsung sells electronics in your country, you should be able to get an S9 FE.

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Should you upgrade?

samsung galaxy tab s9 fe camera
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

Perhaps. You’re vaulting from a budget tablet to a mid-range one, and you’ll definitely enjoy the improvements in display, processor, and charging technology. It’s a shame that the S9 FE doesn’t have a 3.5mm jack, but that’s par for the course these days, and you do get a bundled S Pen. That lets you dive straight into notetaking and drawing, or at least leaving fewer fingerprints on your screen.

Of course, the obstacle here is that the S9 FE can easily be twice as expensive, despite being relatively cheap next to an iPad Air, an iPad Pro, or a regular S9. If you want to stay within budget territory it may be better to get an A9, which starts at $156. Just don’t expect any radical improvements if you go that route — in fact, it’d be wiser to wait for an A10 or A11 if you want to see meaningful feature advances in the budget realm.

Are you upgrading to the Galaxy Tab S9 FE, A9, or neither?

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Excellent build quality with IP68 rating
Generous software support policy
Included S Pen
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Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 (64GB)
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Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 (64GB)
Galaxy connectivity means your devices will all talk to one another
Seamless file sync between devices
Samsung Kids library with kid-friendly games, books and videos.
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64GB

Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: FAQ

Some S9 FE models support 5G, and some A8 models offer 4G. Those should accept SIM cards.

While the S9 FE comes with an S Pen, the A8 doesn’t.

Yes, both tablets support microSD cards up to 1TB.

We haven’t had enough time with the S9 FE, but it does come with a pressure-sensitive S Pen. You’ll have to buy one yourself if you get an A8, and that tablet is weaker in terms of its display and performance.

The A8 does, but the S9 FE doesn’t.

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