With the exception of Google’s Pixel Tablet, there might as well be one name in town when it comes to quality Android tablets, and that’s Samsung. If you have Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A8 from 2022, you might be considering a step up to the new Galaxy Tab S9 FE, which is costlier but not as expensive as a full-fledged Tab S9. Is it worth the jump?
The Galaxy Tab S9 FE sports a bigger, sharper, and smoother display. The S9 FE also offers substantial performance improvements, thanks to a Samsung Exynos processor and more RAM. 32 and 64GB storage options are dropped on the newer tablet, but there’s an added 256GB tier, and you still get a microSD slot. Wireless connectivity is improved, as are charging speeds and the front camera. The S9 FE comes bundled with an S Pen, but no charging brick, and there’s no more 3.5mm headphone jack.
As you might expect leaping from an early 2022 budget tablet to a late 2023 mid-range option, there’s a lot to gain here. For starters, the display expands from 10.5 to 10.9 inches, and you get a sharper 2304 x 1440 resolution paired with a smoother 90Hz refresh rate. The A8’s screen is fine, but you’ll notice the difference.
The Tab S9 FE also combines Samsung’s Exynos 1380 processor with at least 6GB of RAM, and 8GB on some models. The A8 performs well enough with its Unisoc Tiger T618 chip, but that and no more than 4GB of RAM puts a low ceiling on what the tablet can do — the S9 FE is a much better device for things like gaming or image and video editing. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE is well ahead in terms of display quality and processing power.
Storage options on the S9 FE switch to 128 or 256GB, completely ditching 32 and 64GB, which is fine considering that those are too small to do much with. There’s still a microSD slot with support for cards up to 1TB, which is good news if you have a large app or media collection.
Other upgrades on the S9 FE worth mentioning are a fingerprint scanner on the power button — there are no biometrics at all on the A8 — and improved wireless tech including Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.3, and (on cellular models) 5G instead of just 4G. There’s also a sharper 12-megapixel front camera for video calls, and you get an S Pen in the box instead of having to buy one.
Battery tech has also been improved, with the S9 FE featuring an 8,000mAh battery pack, substantially larger than the one on the A8. The S9 FE also offers much faster charging capacity, topping out at 45W versus the A8’s meager 15W.
In terms of design and size, there isn’t much difference between the two tablets. Both offer a simple and minimal aesthetic, with the S9 FE being slightly wider, taller, and heavier than the A8. However, the differences are not significant enough to have a major impact on the overall user experience.
In terms of pricing, the A8 is still available at a lower price point, as Samsung is likely trying to clear out inventory to make way for the newer A9 model. The S9 FE, on the other hand, is more expensive but still relatively affordable compared to other high-end tablets.
Ultimately, whether or not to upgrade from the A8 to the S9 FE depends on your specific needs and budget. The S9 FE offers significant improvements in display, performance, and charging technology, making it a great option for those looking for a mid-range tablet. However, if you want to stay within a budget, it may be worth waiting for the A9 or future budget models that may offer more advanced features.
Overall, Samsung continues to dominate the Android tablet market, and the Galaxy Tab S9 FE is another solid offering from the company.