Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

Samsung launched seven new products during its Unpacked event, including the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, the company’s most high-end tablet packed with as many features as you could think of. The 14.6-inch tablet is a premium device capable of standing in as a tablet for the most power-consumer users — provided they’re willing to pay the price. 

Also: I wish my iPad had this cool new Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 feature

The Tab S9 Ultra is only the second Ultra tablet that Samsung has ever launched, succeeding last year’s Tab S8 Ultra. Its price starts at $1,200 for the 12GB of RAM and 256GB of storage model, while soaring up to $1,620 for 16GB of memory and 1TB of storage. 

Person holding the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra


Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

The new Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is available for preorder, with devices shipping on Aug. 11. 

Upon first impressions, the high-end features, as well as its premium look and feel, do appear to justify the price tag, especially considering what you get with the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra that other competitors don’t offer. 

An IP68 rating gives the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra water and dust resistance that neither the iPad nor any premium tablet on the market is certified for. Though I wouldn’t recommend testing the limits, the Tab S9 Ultra can resist dust and is not only splash-proof, but it will also survive being submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

So could this be the tablet that goes from video conferences and spreadsheets to streaming Netflix in the bath? Absolutely.

The new flagship Samsung tablet touts an improved display compared to its predecessor, featuring a Dynamic AMOLED 2X display that makes for bright, vibrant images that look sleek and gorgeous. The screen resolution of 2960 x 1848 pixels with HDR10 compliance makes the objects displayed look sharp, and the 16:10 ratio provides ample space to work.

The unboxing experience

My first impression, as soon as I unboxed the Tab S9 Ultra was probably the same as most people that buy it; I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, that’s a huge tablet.” 

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

If you’re like me and haven’t played with a 14.6-inch tablet before, you’re in for a treat right from the unboxing experience. I prefer unboxing a tablet over a phone any day — it probably has something to do with the sleekness of the large screens and the excitement of all the potential use you’ll get out of it.

Also: Buying a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5? Make sure to order this model

The Tab S9 Ultra ticks all the boxes for a premium physical appearance. It feels unsurprisingly heavy at 1.62 lbs but not overwhelmingly so. At the same time, it’s also sleek with thin bezels and high-end construction.  

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

An S Pen stylus is included in the box.

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

That said, one thing you shouldn’t expect with the Tab S9 Ultra is portability. Straight out of the box, there aren’t a lot of ways to hold the tablet, which is awkward with a device of its size and weight. Unless you buy a separate stand or case, you can’t relax and stream something on the tablet unless you hold it or prop it up. And if you want a keyboard to really substitute your laptop or computer on the go, you have to purchase it separately.

Also:The best keyboards: Expert test and reviewed

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind my devices coming with no case or keyboard if they’re an 11-inch iPad Pro or a smartphone. But I believe such a sizeable device would wiggle its way into my Apple-dominated household if it came with at least a kickstand case.

My favorite features so far

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The S Pen has to be my favorite feature of the Tab S9 Ultra, by far. Every Galaxy Tab S9 model comes with an S Pen, but it’s not just the fact that the stylus is included. The S Pen is one of my favorite Samsung accessories, and the company only continues to improve it.

Also: How to use your Galaxy S Pen like a magic wand (plus, 2 other tricks)

For example, the stylus this year is as lightweight as ever and has high precision thanks to the faster 2.8-millisecond latency. It can also charge when placed on the magnetic mount of the back cover, no matter which side you set it — an upgrade from the previous S8 Ultra model.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

Maria Diaz/ZDNET

The performance of the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is also nothing to snuff at. The upgraded Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor makes for snappier responses and smoother transitions when switching between apps, especially when compared to previous Galaxy models. 

If you’re upgrading from an Android tablet that’s more than two years old, this will be a significant upgrade in performance.

Bottom line (for now)

Though I’ve only used the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra for a couple of days, the battery life has been more than enough to last me through a heavy work day. The endurance, especially for a machine this capable, is something I’ll be testing more over the coming days as I use the tablet for work, play, and everything in between.

The Tab S9 Ultra is available for preorder now, with orders shipping on Aug. 11. In the meantime, stay tuned for ZDNET”s full review.


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