This is the one tablet that puts the iPad to shame

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra on desk in DeX Mode

There's been a thought bouncing around in my head about the state of tablets. I've talked about how stale the category is and how there's a definite need for a change in the space. It's part of the reason why I decided to upgrade to the M4 iPad Pro, just because I thought Apple would have something to blow our minds with iPadOS 18 at WWDC.

Since then, I have been thinking that Samsung got the formula right, specifically with the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. If you want smaller tablets, there are plenty to choose from. They probably won't have all the bells and whistles, but they'll get the job done for whatever you need.

So, while I've been on the hunt for the best Android tablet, maybe it's been right in front of me this whole time. It's not perfect, not by any means. For one, using it as in vertical orientation in any scenario is laughable. I'm also still scratching my head and wondering why a tablet of this caliber doesn't include an option for cellular connectivity.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra in lap

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

And I'm still not the biggest fan of the keyboard case, as it just isn't great to use in my lap. If I can set it up on a table or at a desk, then it's perfect, but Samsung needs to borrow some notes from Apple or Microsoft for its next tablet keyboard.

Setting all of that aside, there's nothing that can rival the versatility of what the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra offers. It's fantastic as an extra monitor for my desktop PC thanks to the huge AMOLED screen. I just prop it up below my main monitor, and everything pretty much just works.

Using it this way also makes it easy to just use it as an Android tablet if I need to try something out or if I want to just watch a video while I'm eating lunch. The Tab S9 Ultra is also arguably the ultimate gaming handheld—and yes, I mean handheld.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra with the GameSir G8 Galileo controller attached

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

For one, it's powered by the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, has plenty of RAM, and plenty of storage thanks to the microSD card slot. This makes everything so much easier, as I don't need to worry about not having enough storage for everything at a time when companies are stripping away expandable storage on more and more devices. As for being a handheld, I usually keep the GameSir Galileo G8 nearby so I can use it as an oversized screen to play games without relying on a Bluetooth controller. Sure, it looks goofy, but who cares if it works?

What really made me realize that the Tab S9 Ultra is the perfect tablet for me is Samsung DeX. Apple's implementation of a multi-window interface is just downright awful. Don't get me wrong; it definitely works, but only within the confines of what Apple deems the proper way to use multiple apps.

I don't have to fiddle with anything or try to jump through a bunch of hoops to use my tablet as a laptop. Just tap the button or connect the keyboard, and I'm there. All of the apps that I install work just as I'd expected, even the ones that didn't want to work with adjustable windows in the past.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra in DeX Mode on desk

(Image credit: Andrew Myrick / Android Central)

If I'm away from home and my desktop is turned on, I can turn the Tab S9 Ultra into a proper laptop, thanks to Parsec. There are a bunch of other apps that do the same thing, but Parsec has been the most stable for me. When I'm done, I just close Parsec and go back to whatever I was doing.

Usually, it's just transferring files that aren't stored in my NAS, but it's nice having this flexibility. Meanwhile, you can't even get Parsec on the iPad, and the other solutions don't work nearly as well for me.

This is to say that sometimes, it's better to take a step back and reevaluate the devices you already have before trying to make reasons for replacing them. The M4 iPad Pro is great, but what I already had with me is just as great and perhaps even better.

Andrew Myrick
Senior Editor - Chromebooks and tablets

Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.

  • notforhire
    almost makes me want to get a Tab S9U. the bride loves her S8+...uses it all the time. after 8 months of using my HP laptop as my productivity machine, I reverted to DeX on my S24U. couldn't be more pleased.
    Reply
  • SyCoREAPER
    Tab S9 Ultra is only a very minor upgrade if you already have the Tab S8 Ultra
    Reply
  • hubick
    I bought the Galaxy Tab S9+ 5G. I hate it. I didn't realize Google doesn't allow Chrome extensions on Android, so no adblockers. Much of the web is almost unusable without it. Sorry, Firefox is just laggy and slow. I'm replacing the whole thing with a PC tablet where I can run Linux and be in control.
    Reply
  • SyCoREAPER
    hubick said:
    I bought the Galaxy Tab S9+ 5G. I hate it. I didn't realize Google doesn't allow Chrome extensions on Android, so no adblockers. Much of the web is almost unusable without it. Sorry, Firefox is just laggy and slow. I'm replacing the whole thing with a PC tablet where I can run Linux and be in control.
    Might work for some but you're sacrificing battery, conveniences and objectively other nice haves.

    Samsung Internet is Chrome Based and has AdBlockers.

    Vivaldi is probably the closest to a full fledged browser but is a bit bloated (not junk, just resource heavier features). Falls between Firefox and Chrome performance. Has ad and privacy blocking.

    Cromite has built-in AdBlock but no syncing.

    Firefox is slow. Try Fennec, Ice Raven or Mull, Firefox Forks aimed at performance and security.

    Lastly, there are system-wide blockers;

    Full AdGuard (full version from their site). Not free, either lifetime or yearly license and is arguably the most user-friendly and stable with support.

    Free Alternatives that are functionally similiar: dns66 and Blokada.
    Reply
  • Village_Idiot
    I traded my Tab S7 in for the Tab S9. I traded an excellent device for another excellent device. I considered the S9+ and the Ultra, but both are too big for my needs.
    Reply
  • Laura Knotek
    Also, if you use the default Samsung Internet there is now an app for Windows so you can sync your bookmarks.
    Reply
  • Village_Idiot
    Laura Knotek said:
    Also, if you use the default Samsung Internet there is now an app for Windows so you can sync your bookmarks.
    I was able to install it on my Dell Inspiron desktop running Win11, but ironically, I could not install it on my Samsung Galaxy Book2 360, also running Win11.

    Also, I just checked, and it is no longer available in the Microsoft Store. There is a Samsung Internet add-on though, which is compatible with Chromium based browsers (i.e. Chrome, Edge, Opera, etc.)
    Reply
  • Laura Knotek
    Village_Idiot said:
    I was able to install it on my Dell Inspiron desktop running Win11, but ironically, I could not install it on my Samsung Galaxy Book2 360, also running Win11.

    Also, I just checked, and it is no longer available in the Microsoft Store. There is a Samsung Internet add-on though, which is compatible with Chromium based browsers (i.e. Chrome, Edge, Opera, etc.)
    I used the latter, not the former. However, I use Chrome and don't use the Microsoft store.
    Reply
  • callanish
    hubick said:
    I bought the Galaxy Tab S9+ 5G. I hate it. I didn't realize Google doesn't allow Chrome extensions on Android, so no adblockers. Much of the web is almost unusable without it. Sorry, Firefox is just laggy and slow. I'm replacing the whole thing with a PC tablet where I can run Linux and be in control.
    Bit late to the party with replying to this. I use kiwi browser, especially with Dex. Supports all my chrome and Edge extensions. Using extensions like sidebar bookmark and adblockers installed directly from the edge and chrome extensions website. If you haven't replaced your s9 plus yet, give this browser a try.
    Reply