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

Do Samsung's cut-price slates cut too much from the premium line?
By

Published onFebruary 1, 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 S9
MSRP: $799.99
Check price
Positives
Finally has an AMOLED screen
More compact than other models but plenty spacious
Includes S Pen stylus
Excellent performance and multitasking
Punchy speakers
Solid update guarantee
Negatives
Awkward in portrait orientation
Expensive, mediocre official keyboard case
Android still lacking tablet-optimized apps
Most affordable Tab S9, but still pricey

Samsung builds some of the best Android tablets on the market, with the Galaxy Tab S9 series headlining its current roster. But if you were to find fault with it, you might say it’s too expensive for most of the population. Enter the Galaxy Tab S9 FE series. The latest Fan Edition line drastically cuts the asking price by shedding some of the features of the top-line offering. Is this trade worth it? Find out in our Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 comparison.

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

This comparison largely compares the two base models of each series; however, we will also touch on the upper-tier devices. The two lineups have plenty of hardware differences across the board. Here's a quick look at some of those:

  • The Galaxy Tab S9 FE series uses LCD screens, while the Tab S9 series utilizes high refresh rate AMOLED panels.
  • A less-impressive chipset is used in the Galaxy Tab S9 FE, trading the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy found on the Tab S9 line for the mid-range Exynos 1380.
  • The Galaxy Tab S9 FE employs a physical fingerprint sensor in the power key, not the in-display fingerprint sensor used by the Galaxy Tab S9.
  • The Galaxy Tab S9 FE has two core models but lacks an Ultra variant.
  • While the Galaxy Tab S9 uses a larger camera sensor at the rear, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE devices employ a larger front-facing sensor.
  • The Galaxy Tab S9 FE and FE Plus are available in more colors than the Galaxy Tab S9 series.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 specs

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Display
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
11-inch Dynamic AMOLED
16:10 aspect ratio
2,560 x 1,600
120Hz refresh rate
274ppi
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
10.9-inch LCD
16:10 aspect ratio
2304 x 1440
90Hz refresh rate
249ppi

Processor
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
Snapdragon 8 Gen 2
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Exynos 1380
RAM
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
8/12GB RAM
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
6/8GB RAM (6GB - 5G model)
Storage
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
128/256GB
microSD card support
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
128/256GB (128GB - 5G model)
microSD card support
Power
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
8,400mAh battery
45W charging
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
8,000mAh battery
45W charging
Cameras
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
Rear:
- 13MP with AF

Front:
- 12MP ultrawide
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Rear:
- 8MP

Front:
- 12MP ultrawide
Audio
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
Quadruple stereo speakers
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Dolby Atmos support
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Dual stereo speakers
No 3.5mm headphone jack
Dolby Atmos support

Connectivity
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
Wi-Fi 6E
Bluetooth 5.3
5G support (optional)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Wi-Fi 6 (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax)
Bluetooth 5.3
5G support (on 5G model)
Biometrics
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
In-display fingerprint scanner
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Power button fingerprint scanner
Ports and switches
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
USB-C 3.2
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
USB-C 2.0
Durability
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
IP68 rating
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
IP68 rating
Software
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
Android 13
One UI 5.1
4 Android updates
5 years of security updates
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
Android 13
One UI 5.1
4 Android updates
5 years of security updates
Dimensions and weight
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
254.3 x 165.8 x 5.9mm
507g
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
254.3 x 165.8 x 6.5mm
523g (524g - 5G model)
Extras
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
S Pen included
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE
S Pen included

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9: Features

samsung galaxy tab s9 fe plus display
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus

While the two tablet lines differ in price and hardware, the software experience is largely on par. You’ll find both the Galaxy Tab S9 and S9 FE running Android 14 with the One UI 6 skin on top. This has proven a great software package on the pricier tablets, packing more multitasking features for the larger screen devices. You needn’t worry about updates with either lineup. Samsung’s update policy is among the best in the business, even beyond its smartphone offerings. Both tablet lineups get four major OS upgrades with five years of software patches in tow.

As you might’ve guessed, several features are reserved for the more premium Galaxy Tab S9 series. Its big software party piece is DeX support. Samsung’s desktop mode saw a boost with the Galaxy Tab S9 launch. It now boasts more window multitasking features and a smarter taskbar. Users can also use the tablets to expand or mirror their PC’s display. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE series misses out on DeX. Grab the premiere Tab S9 series or an older Samsung flagship tablet if you want the feature.

Interestingly, the S Pen is bundled with all tablets in our comparison, allowing users to write, draw, and command their tablets with the click of the digital stylus.

The Tab S9 and Tab S9 FE differ in price and hardware, but the software experience is largely on par.

Their core hardware specs accentuate the gulf between the two Samsung tablet families. For instance, the art experience on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE isn’t as riveting due to the less dense, 90Hz LCD screens employed. The premiere Galaxy Tab S9 line employs 120Hz AMOLED screens across the board, which dynamically adjust the refresh rate based on the content’s demands. Notably, LCD and AMOLED screens feature Samsung’s Vision Booster tech to improve outdoor or high-glare visibility.

At the heart of the Galaxy Tab S9, you’ll find the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy — the same chipset you’ll find in the Galaxy S23 series. The Tab S9 FE models get the Exynos 1380 SoC — the same silicon you’ll find in Galaxy A54 5G. It’s worth noting that we found this chipset more than capable in Samsung’s cheaper phone, and it yields adequate results in the FE slates, too, per our Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus review and our experience with the Tab S9 FE.

In terms of battery, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE employs an 8,000mAh cell — it’s large but not as big as the 8,400mAh battery used in the base Tab S9. The battery life king of the entire series is the Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus. It packs the same 10,090mAh battery as its more premium Plus sibling but boasts the thriftier chipset. We were able to eke out a day of general use with the Galaxy Tab S9, and you can expect days from the FE lineup.

Finally, let’s touch on cameras. While tablets aren’t designed with imaging in mind, the Galaxy Tab S9 series and the Galaxy Tab S9 FE take different approaches. While the pricier tablet line uses the more powerful camera at the rear (a single 13MP on the S9, with an additional 8MP on the Plus and Ultra models), the Galaxy Tab S9 FE models use the larger sensor up front. A 12MP selfie shooter occupies the front of the newer tablet.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9: Design

Let’s play some spot the difference. If you place the Galaxy Tab S9 FE (Wi-Fi or 5G model) alongside the Tab S9, you’ll be hard-pressed to find any deviations between the two Samsung tablets. The tech giant seemingly utilizes the Galaxy Tab S9’s body for the Galaxy Tab S9 FE, so styling and measurements are mostly consistent across the two. There is one big change — instead of an in-display fingerprint sensor, you’ll get a physical sensor on the power key across the board. It’s arguably a more ergonomic setup.

It’s worth touching on the larger models momentarily. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus also borrows the Galaxy Tab S9 Plus’ shell. The two devices share design, dimensions, and battery size, give or take a few millimeters in depth.

Beyond these differences, there aren’t many aesthetic changes to note. You’re essentially getting the same design across the two tablet families, and that is the point. Samsung’s newer mid-range smartphones look more like its flagships than ever before. The same can be said about the FE tablet lineup.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9: Price and colors

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Wi-Fi: From $449.99
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE 5G: From $549
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus: From $599
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9: From $799
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus: From $999
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: From $1,199

Samsung’s FE tablet range fills an interesting niche. They provide more functionality than cheaper Android tablets in the Galaxy Tab family — such as the Galaxy Tab A8 — but won’t cost nearly as much as the flagship Tab S9 offerings. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE starts at $449.99 — a $350 discount on the cheapest Galaxy Tab S9. The slates were launched on October 3, 2023, but you can purchase the devices from select carriers on October 5, 2023, and Samsung.com on October 10, 2023.

Colors on offer provide a much broader range for prospective buyers than the top-line series. If you opt for the Wi-Fi or Plus models, you can grab a tablet in Gray, Silver, Lavender, or Mint. The 5G model is only available in Gray.

See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE (Wi-Fi)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE (Wi-Fi)
Excellent build quality with IP68 rating
Generous software support policy
Included S Pen
See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE (5G)
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE (5G)
Excellent build quality with IP68 rating
Generous software support policy
Included S Pen
See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE Plus
Premium build quality
Included S Pen
Speedy charging

The Galaxy Tab S9 series, in turn, is much pricier. It debuted on July 26, 2023, with three distinct models available. The base Galaxy Tab S9 starts at $799, while the premium Plus and Ultra models demand $999 and $1,199, respectively.

Samsung opted for a more conservative color array for its top-line tablets, with just Gray and Beige available.

See price at Samsung
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
Massive display
Wi-Fi 6E
IP68 rating
See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus
1%off
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Plus
Excellent AMOLED 2X display
Premium, water-resistant build
Extensive update policy
See price at Amazon
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
1%off
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9
IP68 rating
Updated S Pen
AMOLED display

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

Galaxy Tab S9 FE flat with S Pen
Ryan Whitwam / Android Authority

There’s an obvious gulf here between the two tablet lines. On the one hand, you have the Galaxy Tab S9 series, which packs all the bells and whistles you could want in an Android tablet. Conversely, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE sheds some of these features to rein in the asking price. They are the best Android tablets you can buy within their respective weight classes. But which should you opt for?

The Galaxy Tabs are the best Android tablets you can buy within their respective weight classes.

Ultimately, that comes down to how much cash you’re willing to spend. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE makes for a more sensible purchasing option for users simply looking for a companion tablet to a more powerful device. However, it does lose out on a fast, bright display, flagship silicon, a larger battery, and a desktop replacement experience. If you need these things, dropping the extra cash required for the Tab S9 might be worth it.

This answer gets trickier if you consider upgrading from an older slate. If you already own a Galaxy Tab S8, it’s not worth upgrading to either Galaxy Tab S9 family member. You’ll still enjoy another three years of software updates, at least. However, if you want to one-up your mid-range tablet experience or want something more modern, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is a solid starting point.

That’s it for our Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE vs Galaxy Tab S9 comparison. Which tablet do you think is best? Let us know in the poll below.

Which is the better value tablet: Galaxy Tab S9 FE or Galaxy Tab S9?

287 votes

FAQs

Yes, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE and the Galaxy Tab S9 both come bundled with the S Pen. Samsung also bundles notes and drawing software with the slates.

No, you’ll have to purchase a keyboard case or Bluetooth keyboard separately for the Galaxy Tab S9 FE or the Galaxy Tab S9.

Yes, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE and the Galaxy Tab S9 feature microSD card slots to bolster internal storage capacity.

Yes, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE and the Galaxy Tab S9 feature SIM card slots, but only one Galaxy Tab S9 FE model has 5G support.

No, neither the the Galaxy Tab S9 FE nor the Galaxy Tab S9 support wireless charging.

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