Affordable and decent

A CLEAR middle-tier tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 FE is a bit of a peculiar piece of device after spending time with it. Let us break down the tablet, which has been on the Malaysian market since early October.

The S9 FE has two variants, 5G and WiFi, and it has two sizes. The pricing difference is varied, every version ranges between RM2,000 and RM3,000. The tablets also come in four colour options — mint, lavender, grey and silver.

Great for what it is

At a display size of 10.9”, the S9 FE just “feels right”. For small hands, the tablet can still be gripped comfortably, while for bigger hands, it is still a decent size, like firmly holding a phone. For those who use their tablets or want one for games, the display allows a rather uncluttered user interface (UI) due to simply having more spacing than a mobile phone.

The display’s refresh rate of 90 Hz when it comes to gaming, watching shows and films, or just surfing the web is more than enough for a smooth experience. That said, Samsung has not revealed the device’s processor, not even on the product page online, but the S9 FE is widely believed to be running on the Exynos 1380.

Compared with previous models, it is not an upgrade, but it is also not a downgrade either — a “sidegrade”, maybe. For instance, running games like Call of Duty: Mobile and Genshin Impact while having Chrome open barely affected the S9 FE’s performance and loading.

Additionally, gaming on the tablet proves what a hefty battery life it has. The S9 FE comes with an 8,000mAh battery, and at full charge, it took a little over five hours to “redline” the battery.

That means, for intense Internet browsing or watching high-resolution videos, it would take almost two times longer before the battery dipped below 30%. A completely irrelevant part of the S9 FE is the two cameras.

The tablet has a back camera that is 8MP and a front camera that is a decent-for-tablets ultrawide 12MP, which is perfect for video calls.

Short, minor grievances

The S9 FE also comes with the S Pen in the box as part of the purchase, which is neat because you do not have to pay extra for something that adds versatility to what the tablet is able to do.

On the other hand, it is annoying how the S Pen has to be used upright for it to work 100%; attempting to do anything on the tablet with the S Pen used from an angle results in the S9 FE not registering the user’s actions.

And then there is the thing with the USB. If you are planning to use the S9 FE purely as a tablet or something to shove at your children so they sit still and do not transfer data, skip this part. The S9 FE’s USB version is 2.0, which is rather abysmal.

Comparing with other tablet brands that are offered at around the same price with similar specs as the S9 FE, most of them are using USB version 3.0 or better. On that note, the S9 FE comes with either 6GB or 8GB of RAM, with a storage capacity of 128GB or 256GB. Again, nothing impressive and this is completely fine if you want a tablet purely to use it as a tablet.

However, if there is a need for increased storage, the device can have an external microSD up to 1TB.

Price point

There are no two ways about it – the S9 FE is cheap, all things considered, at its RM2,999 price tag (the S9 FE WiFi variant is around RM2,099 to RM2,399). Though something like the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is creme de la creme when it comes to Samsung’s line of tablets, the S9 FE is more than enough for lite tablet usage.

This is also largely due to the S9 FE being around the midpoint in terms of pricing for all of Samsung’s tablets. The pricing also makes sense because why go for a cheaper Samsung tablet model when the S9 FE is at the sweet spot RM3,000 cutoff point? Anything higher, users can just opt for a laptop instead.