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Samsung S9 Ultra Review: Pros, Cons, and Considerations

Samsung continues its trend of producing larger devices, evident in its latest Galaxy Tab S9 series, featuring 11-, 12.4-, and a whopping 14.6-inch model, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, priced at $1,200. These tablets rival Apple’s iPad Pros in size and functionality.

The challenge with Android tablets has traditionally been the lack of app optimization for larger screens, coupled with the difficulty of handling such sizable devices. However, despite these concerns, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra proves surprisingly useful in certain scenarios, defying initial skepticism.

For most users, the smaller S9 tablets are preferable, but if you crave a large display, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra delivers power and a sleek design.

Pros:

Cons:

Samsung S9 Ultra Review Pros, Cons, and Considerations
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Samsung S9 Ultra Review: Hardware

Unboxing the S9 Ultra, its sleek 0.21-inch thickness and 1.6-pound weight impress. Despite its familiar glass and metal build, Samsung’s innovation shines through in its thin yet sturdy design.

IP68 water and dust resistance marks a first for Samsung’s Galaxy S tablet series. While not essential, it adds peace of mind for users wanting to enjoy media even in unconventional settings.

The 14.6-inch AMOLED touchscreen boasts vibrant visuals, though its height can be cumbersome in portrait mode. Nonetheless, the 120Hz refresh rate and HDR10+ support enhance the viewing experience.

The tablet’s stellar speakers offer immersive audio, ideal for entertainment even during isolated times. Front-facing cameras, notch-incorporated, deliver decent performance, though tablet photography remains secondary to smartphones.

Conveniently, the S Pen stylus attaches magnetically to the tablet’s back, albeit not the most intuitive placement. Nonetheless, it stays securely in place, adding functionality to the S9 Ultra.

S9 Ultra Review: Tablet mode

Utilizing the S9 Ultra sans keyboard case posed some challenges. However, its stellar screen and speakers rendered it a competent portable theater. Equipped with a Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor and 12GB RAM, it handled intensive tasks adeptly, boasting over 11 hours of battery life in tablet mode.

An artist’s canvas, the S Pen proved highly responsive, offering a latency of 2.8 milliseconds. While ideal for visual artists, the lack of optimized Android apps hindered other content consumption. Its tall aspect ratio made portrait mode uncomfortable, with limited app adaptation for large screens.

Though some apps like Google’s suite and select others are well-suited, mainstream tasks like browsing and messaging felt awkward. For general use, the 11-inch Galaxy Tab S9 offers a more ergonomic and cost-effective alternative. The S9 Ultra caters to niche needs, requiring a precise understanding of its capabilities before purchase.

Samsung S9 Ultra Review: Dex mode

When I integrated Samsung’s $200 “Book Cover Keyboard Slim” and a Bluetooth mouse with the S9 Ultra and activated Dex mode, the tablet transformed into an interface akin to Windows or Chrome OS.

Dex mode resembles Chromebook usage, featuring a navigation bar for accessing open apps swiftly. While app selection stems from the Google Play Store or Samsung’s store, the challenge of limited app optimization for larger screens persists.

However, Dex’s resizable app feature mitigates this issue, allowing better utilization of screen space. Despite some apps lacking desktop-like functionalities, those with multi-column interfaces, especially Google’s, offer a seamless experience.

Yet, Chrome for Android falls short compared to its desktop counterpart, occasionally redirecting to mobile versions of websites. Nevertheless, running Slack’s full web version via Chrome proved surprisingly efficient.

Battery life takes a hit in Dex mode due to app switching, lasting approximately six hours under heavy usage, slightly inferior to laptops in the same price range.

Assessing the S9 Ultra

In summary, while the S9 Ultra presents intriguing possibilities, its niche appeal and high price tag may deter most consumers. Priced at $1,200 (plus $200 for the keyboard case, or $350 with an integrated trackpad), it’s a substantial investment requiring specific usage plans.

For users prioritizing portability and versatility, a smaller tablet paired with a keyboard case might be a more practical choice. Despite the allure of Dex mode and the S9 Ultra’s expansive display, its utility may be limited for many.

Considering alternatives, investing in a laptop offers greater software compatibility at a lower cost. Additionally, for Android enthusiasts, Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9 and S9+ provide comparable specs and quality at a more affordable price point.

However, if a large tablet with a stylus and productivity features is your preference, the S9 Ultra warrants consideration, provided the investment aligns with your needs and preferences.

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