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Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Should you upgrade?

Samsung has complicated matters by splitting the S9 FE into two different versions.
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Published onJanuary 24, 2024

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE (Wi-Fi)
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 S7 FE
MSRP: $529.99
Check price
Positives
Premium design
Excellent battery life
Good speakers
Negatives
Performance sluggish on 5G model
5G model has limited RAM/storage
Cameras only so-so

Apart from Google, Samsung seems to be the one company pushing the idea of Android tablets as more than just media consumption devices. Even its mid-range FE tablets are sold as potential laptop replacements. Whether or not a tablet is that vital to you, how does the new Galaxy Tab S9 FE stack up vs the Galaxy Tab S7 FE? Is the upgrade worth the significant pricetag?

Update, Jan. 2024: We’ve adjusted S7 FE pricing to reflect recent discounts.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 FE: At a glance

  • The S9 FE is a smaller tablet, equipped with a 10.9-inch screen instead of the S7 FE's 12.4 inches. You need an S9 FE Plus to get back to 12.4.
  • Likewise, the S9 FE has a smaller 8,000mAh battery, but you can match the S7 FE's capacity with an S9 FE Plus.
  • The newer tablet has a dynamic 48-90Hz display, whereas the S7 FE is locked at 60Hz.
  • The S9 FE has a significantly more powerful processor in the form of the Samsung Exynos 1380.
  • Other upgrades include Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, a 12-megapixel front camera, and fingerprint unlock via the power button.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Specs

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FESamsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Display
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
10.9-inch LCD
WUXGA+ resolution (2304 x 1440)
48-90Hz refresh rate
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
12.4-inch LCD
WQXGA resolution (2560 × 1600)
60Hz refresh rate
Processor
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Samsung Exynos 1380
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
5G: Qualcomm Snapdragon 750G
Wi-Fi: Qualcomm Snapdragon 778G
RAM
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
6GB/8GB
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
4GB/6GB
Storage
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
128GB/256GB
microSD (up to 1TB)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
64GB/128GB/256GB
microSD (up to 1TB)
Biometrics
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Power button fingerprint scanner
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
None
Audio
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
AKG tuned dual speakers with Dolby Atmos support
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
AKG tuned dual speakers with Dolby Atmos support
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Rear:
8MP main

Front:
12MP ultra-wide
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Rear:
8MP main

Front:
5MP
Power
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
8,000mAh battery
45W wired charging
No charger included
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
10,090mAh battery
45W wired charging
15W charger included
Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Wi-Fi 6
Bluetooth 5.3
USB-C
5G (on cellular models only)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Wi-Fi 5
Bluetooth 5.0
USB-C
5G (cellular model only)
Software
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Android 13
One UI
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Android 11 (upgradeable to 13)
One UI
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
254.3 x 165.8 x 6.5mm
523-524g
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
284.8 x 185 x 6.3mm
608g
Colors
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Gray, Silver, Mint, and Lavender
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Mystic Black, Mystic Silver, Mystic Green, Mystic Pink
S Pen included
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Yes
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Yes

The most glaring difference is that strictly speaking, the S9 FE has a much smaller (if still very sharp) 10.9-inch display. This is a little deceptive — in reality, you can still get a 12.4-inch screen, but you have to pony up for the S9 FE Plus. Nevertheless we’re going to focus on the base S9 FE for our comparison, and all versions of it have a dynamic 48-90Hz refresh rate, whereas the S7 FE is stuck at 60Hz. That means smoother motion without excessive power consumption.

The fact that the standard S9 FE is scaled down means you additionally get a smaller 8,000mAh battery, but we’ll talk more about that later.

You'll need to spend extra on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus to match the S7 FE's screen size and battery.

Note that all versions of the S9 FE use Samsung’s Exynos 1380 processor, which is paired with an ARM Mali-G68 MP5 GPU. That translates to about 38% better CPU performance than the S7 FE, and 73% higher GPU performance. Don’t expect to be blown away, especially considering the custom Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 in the regular Galaxy Tab S9, but for most purposes the S9 FE should be sufficiently fast.

Other feature upgrades we need to highlight include more default RAM (varying based on your configuration), a sharper 12-megapixel front camera, and a power button-based fingerprint sensor, whereas the S7 FE has no biometric tech to speak of. Samsung has also upgraded to Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3, which may matter if you have compatible devices.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Design and size comparison

samsung galaxy tab s9 fe upright
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Galaxy Tab S9 FE

As mentioned, the base S9 FE (above) is considerably smaller than the S7 FE, since it shrinks from a 12.4-inch display to 10.9 inches. If you’re not prepared to sacrifice screen space, assume you should be looking at the S9 FE Plus instead.

A smaller size does translate into a lighter and more portable tablet. The S9 FE weighs a sliver under 1.16 pounds, whereas the S7 FE (below) comes in at 1.34. That gap might not sound huge, but starts to matter if you need to hold a tablet for long stretches of reading, video, gaming, or working on the go.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE rear panel with S Pen
Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Both tablets are aesthetically pleasing. We should point out however that while the S7 FE has a dedicated magnetic patch on the back for holding its S Pen, this is gone on the S9 FE, which instead relies on edge-based magnets (the patch returns on the S9 FE Plus). You may find one or the other more convenient and/or visually pleasing, but either way, don’t expect your S Pen to stay attached if your tablet is jostling around in a bag.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Battery life and charging

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

Samsung states that the S9 FE’s 8,000mAh battery is capable of 18 or more hours of non-stop video. Most people don’t use a tablet that way, but it’s a safe bet that for most people, the product should last at least two days when handling a diverse range of tasks.

The tablet has substantially smaller battery capacity than the S7 FE, but with a smaller screen, it’s also consuming less power. In fact the S9 FE Plus matches the S7 FE’s 10,090mAh, so there’s an obvious link between screen and battery sizes.

A minor item to flag is that while both tablets support 45W USB-C charging, only the S7 FE comes with a charger in the box. That said, it’s a 15W unit, so a better one is in order anyway if you want a full recharge in a reasonable amount of time.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Price and availability

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE: Starts at $310 (renewed)
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Starts at $449
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus: Starts at $599

The comparison is a little unusual here, mostly because as noted, the most direct successor to the S7 FE is actually the S9 FE Plus. Moreover, Samsung still sells new models of the S7 FE beginning at $529.99, despite the fact that you can get refurbished ones on Amazon for as little as $310. You’d be crazy to buy an S7 FE at full price in 2024.

The S9 FE series launched on October 5, 2023. The S7 FE dates back to June 2021, although it didn’t arrive in the US until August that year.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 FE: Should you upgrade?

samsung galaxy tab s9 fe camera
Ryan Haines / Android Authority

If you’re still satisfied with your S7 FE, there’s no urgent reason. Yes, you’ll get better performance, an enhanced display, and modern connectivity, but really this is just Samsung trying to stay current with rivals like Apple and Google. We’re talking about incremental updates rather than anything earthshaking.

That might be exactly what you’re after, though, if you’re concerned about the performance of high-demand apps like image editors or 3D games. There’s enough of a jump here that previously sluggish apps might suddenly feel smooth, especially on a 90Hz display.

After crossing that barrier, there’s still the decision of whether you should choose the S9 FE or S9 FE Plus. If you can’t bear to have your display shrink from 12.4 inches to 10.9, you should save up for the Plus, but the truth is that most people don’t need a 12-inch tablet that badly. The 10.9-inch model may even be superior in some situations, such as travel. It’s a lot easier to pack, not to mention take out of your carry-on when you’re going through security or trying to watch Dune on your cross-country flight.

Are you planning to upgrade to the Galaxy Tab S9 FE, S9 FE Plus, or neither?

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Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus
Premium build quality
Included S Pen
Speedy charging
See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Excellent build quality with IP68 rating
Generous software support policy
Included S Pen
See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
18%off
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE
Premium design
Excellent battery life
Good speakers
See price at Amazon
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256GB

Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 FE: FAQ

The S7 FE originally launched in June 2021.

The S7 FE isn’t, but the S9 FE has an IP68 rating, which means it can be submerged to a depth of 1.5 meters (about 5 feet) for 30 minutes. You still shouldn’t take it in a shower or pool, and you’ll need to dry it off if it’s exposed to liquids. Avoid chlorine or salt water.

No, they don’t. You’ll have to rely on touchscreen typing unless you buy a keyboard accessory.

Yes. Both tablets have microSD slots supporting cards up to 1TB.

There are cellular versions of both, and those should have a SIM slot.

Potentially, since they both come with S Pens bundled in the box. The S9 FE and/or S9 FE Plus may be preferable, since they have 48-90Hz dynamic refresh rates that allow for quicker visual feedback.

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