Once upon a time, online work meant being tied to a desk with an immobile PC at your feet. Then came the laptop which, being portable, meant you had more freedom about where and when you got your work done - but as the name suggests, it's best sat used down. And now, it’s time for a new era of computing, the mega-tablet could open up doors to working literally whenever, wherever and however you like.
Launched at a Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event in August 2023, the 14.6-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra arrived alongside two other, much smaller slates (the 11-inch S9 and 12.4-inch S9 Plus). Each serve different people and different uses, but all of them look set to be amongst the best tablets you can buy this year.
This is the second model of Samsung’s oversized slate, and comparing it to what came before, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra takes things up a notch with the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor, as well as an IP68 waterproof rating and a new beige colourway. These latest features add to the tablet’s long list of previous achievements including a stunning AMOLED display and the S Pen which comes in the box.
The result? A tablet that I would genuinely use day-to-day instead of a laptop.
Packing the latest in top-of-the-range processing is the main reason why this is a viable laptop alternative. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset has been paired with up to 16GB of RAM which means that it’s powerful enough to handle just about any task you could throw at it, whether that’s managing your spreadsheets, editing photos or having a bunch of apps open at once. In terms of power, it’s on par with top dogs like the Apple iPad Air (2022) and the Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2021).
The Android 13 operating system with Samsung’s One UI 5.1.1 over the top has a few handy tricks up its sleeve, which combined with the hardware, make it well suited to getting work done.
Firstly, the layout looks like a cross between Android and Windows, with a taskbar at the bottom of the screen when you're inside an app so you can navigate the system similarly to a PC. You’ll also be able to use Samsung DeX mode which makes it look even more like a Windows desktop. As well as that, you can divide up the screen into different apps and windows allowing you to use a few of them at once, which inevitably helps with multitasking.
For those with a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, Quick Share is a really useful feature letting you move files across devices without any hassle at all, and you’ll be able to edit documents from different devices at the same time with the upgraded Samsung Notes app.
A huge 14.6-inch AMOLED panel gives you plenty of space to work on too. And with a resolution of 2960 x 1848 (WQXGA+) it is bright and colourful as well as accurate and detailed. The screen is a total pleasure to use, whether you're streaming YouTube videos or skimming through long documents, even if it’s a little difficult to see under bright sunlight. It certainly matches up to the best 2-in-1 laptops.
For those who will make use of it, the S Pen being included in the box is a blessing. It'll be particularly useful for anyone who regularly takes handwritten notes or needs to sketch out pictures or diagrams throughout the day.
I really enjoyed using the S Pen because it's super precise, responding well to both pressure and tilt as well as making a satisfying 'pen on paper' noise when you use it.
Elsewhere, you'll find a front-facing camera which delivers quality video calls, a speaker system from AKG with Dolby Atmos surround sound, and an in-display fingerprint sensor for extra security.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is loaded with just about everything you could need in terms of power, display quality and system features, but thankfully that doesn’t mean it’s in any way bulky. In fact, it weighs a lot less than most laptops at only 732g and it's only 5.5mm thick so it'll easily fit into your bag to take out and about with you.
Realistically, to make this fit for day-to-day use in the place of your laptop, you will need to buy the Slim Book Cover Keyboard, it's not included in the price of the tablet and will set you back an extra $/£200.
That's a lot given the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra starts at $/£1,199 for the most basic Wi-Fi-only model with 256GB of storage - that's about the same as a decent PC. But what's great is that you can also buy it with 5G connectivity and up to 1TB of in-built storage, should you be willing to splash the cash.
Of course, the huge price tag will be off-putting for some, but I'd quite happily make the switch. If you can afford it and you like the idea of using a portable mega-tablet each day, then the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is worth every penny.