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Reviews

Samsung’s Galaxy Tab A9 Plus is an underrated entry-level tablet

The 90Hz refresh rate screen is a welcome addition and makes a huge difference

Samsung recently launched the Galaxy Tab A9 Plus, a $329.99 entry-level tablet designed for everyday tasks such as email, browsing the web, reading, watching videos and playing the occasional game.

This tablet’s main underline is that it’s an entry-level device. It’s easy to compare it to the Galaxy Tab S9 FE or the iPad 9th-Gen, but obviously, these are expensive tablets that offer a more premium experience. For reference, the Tab S9 FE starts at $599.99, and the iPad 9th-Gen starts at $449.99. You have to look at the A9 Plus for its face value, and for that, I think it offers quite a bit without breaking the bank.

The base Wi-Fi model of the A9 Plus comes with 64GB of storage and 4GB of RAM for $329.99. A larger storage configuration option with 128GB of storage and 8GB of RAM is available for $70 more at $399.99. The 64GB 5G model is $399.99. If you can manage to get the A9 Plus on sale, it’s an even better value. While writing this story, I saw the tablet on sale for $60 off both configurations on Samsung’s website. For a sale price of $269.99 for the base model, that’s an amazing deal.

The tablet comes in three colours: ‘Graphite,’ ‘Silver’ and ‘Navy.’ For this story, I used the Graphite 64GB/4GB 5G model.

The A9 Plus does offer 5G models. While I personally didn’t use this functionality during my time with the tablet, it’s great to see an entry-level tablet offer this for any users who desire it.

Smooth Motion is a welcome addition

The Samsung Tab A9 Plus offers an 11-inch FHD LCD screen with a resolution of 1,920 x 1,200 pixels and a 90Hz refresh rate screen, which Samsung calls ‘smooth motion.’ This is the first time a Samsung Tab A series tablet has gotten a higher refresh rate screen. The 90Hz display on the Tab A9 Plus is a welcome addition and immediately noticeable. It makes productivity tasks so much smoother and more fluid compared to 60Hz. It’s difficult to go back once you use a higher refresh rate display. The screen itself looks great. I had no problems reading on it or watching movies and shows, but it does leave a bit to be desired in terms of resolution.

The build quality of the A9 Plus is also pretty solid, thanks to its aluminum build. While it doesn’t feel cheap, admittedly, it doesn’t feel exactly premium either, but it gets the job done and maintains a sleek look. It’s 6.9mm thick and weighs 480g. I found the tablet comfortable to hold and easy to walk around with.

The Tab A9 Plus sports a headphone jack, which is always nice to see and makes sense on an entry-level tablet, as not everyone will be using wireless headphones with it. The A9 Plus also features a USB-C port for charging and a microSD card slot to expand storage up to 1TB. The tablet has Dolby Atmos speakers on the top and bottom, which sound nice and clear. The tablet doesn’t support the S Pen, Samsung’s stylus, which can be used with other tablets such as the Tab S9 FE or the Tab S9 Ultra. So, if you were looking to use the A9 Plus for creative purposes like drawing, it probably won’t be what you’re looking for.

A warning, too: the tablet doesn’t have an IP rating, which means it isn’t protected against water or dust. But if you clean the tablet every now and then and use a case, you’ll most likely be just fine. I was able to get a case for the tablet on sale for $7 on Amazon. It’s nothing fancy, just a normal folio case, but it made using the tablet way easier at my desk or on the train.

Productivity, Gaming, and Samsung Dex

The price for the performance of the A9 Plus is shockingly good. The A9 Plus features an Octa-core 2.2GHz Snapdragon 685 processor, a decent upgrade from the Tab A8’s Octa-core Unisoc processor. Let me be clear: considering the lower price of this tablet, this processor is awesome for productivity.

I primarily used the tablet for research on the web and watching videos. Sometimes, not all the time, the tablet felt sluggish and loaded slowly when booting up YouTube or Netflix.

If I had more than a few apps open at the time, I noticed a bit of a slowdown in performance sometimes, too. I’d highly recommend getting the 128GB storage/8GB RAM model of this tablet on sale. It will make browsing and everyday tasks smoother and help future-proof the tablet. 4GB of RAM is workable, but in 2024, 8GB of RAM will serve you better in the long run.

When it comes to gaming, the A9 Plus again impressed me. I booted up PUBG Mobile and played a few rounds, and honestly, it was not that bad. The frame rate was consistent, and the visuals looked decent. I had the graphics and frame rate set to high. I was able to jump in and play a few rounds with no problems. I played for about an hour, and the tablet never felt too hot. I also didn’t notice any decrease in performance the longer I played, which is a nice win for the A9 Plus.

A new addition to the Samsung Tab A series this year is Samsung Dex. Samsung Dex transforms the user interface (UI) of the A9 Plus into a desktop-like environment. The feature has previously been on other Samsung tablets like the Tab S8, S9, and S9 FE, as well as Samsung smartphones like the S23 and S24. This is the first time Samsung Dex has debuted on the Tab A series.

With Samsung Dex, you can hook up a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse to your tablet or a case with both and use it as you would a laptop or PC. Dex is a great feature and could be handy for those truly looking for an all-in-one computing device, but there is an issue with it on the A9 Plus.

The USB-C port on the tablet is USB 2.0 and, therefore, doesn’t support external displays. Without external display support, using Dex with the tablet doesn’t really make sense.

The convenience of quickly sitting at my desk and plugging my tablet into my USB-C monitor would’ve been welcome and greatly aided in the tablet’s everyday functionality, but in this regard, the A9 Plus falls short.  In all fairness, it’s important to note that the Samsung Tab 9 FE doesn’t have external monitor support either. This kind of feature is found on more expensive tablets like the Samsung Tab S9 Ultra.

You can hook up the A9 Plus in Dex mode to a Smart TV, which could be handy for meetings or watching a movie in the living room, but for desk use, it feels limited.

Great battery life paired with a decent camera

The Tab A9 Plus has a 7,800mAh battery, which I was able to use casually for several days without having to recharge the device. The tablet comes with a USB-C cable for charging, but you’ll need to buy a wall plug separately if you need one. Using a standard Samsung 15W power adapter, I was able to charge the tablet from 30 percent to 100 percent in about two and a half hours.

The battery drain on the A9 Plus felt pretty normal. Watching a 30-minute video at full brightness, I saw it drop by a few percentage points, but I was never in a situation where I was worrying about the tablet dying. While gaming and playing PUBG Mobile for an hour, I saw the tablet drop about 20 percent.

I think the 7,800mAh battery is more than enough to handle the everyday tasks people will throw at it, and with casual use, such as watching a video before bed or reading the news, I doubt you’ll need to charge it often.  If you’re doing long gaming sessions or extended video watching, you’ll find yourself having to charge the tablet every day for sure.

As for the camera, well, it’s a camera. The tablet features an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front camera. I’m not much of a tablet camera user, and for the most part, it’s easier to pull your phone out to snap a shot quickly. The rear camera is good if you need to take a decent photo, or for example, if you need to take a photo of a document. The front-facing camera is fine, too. It will work for video calls in decent lighting, but it does leave a bit more to be desired. For the price, I doubt anyone was expecting a mind-blowing camera by any means. The cameras on the tablet do exactly what they need to do: present a clear image, and they do.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab A9 Plus is a great entry-level tablet for casual everyday use. If you’re looking for a tablet that you can use for productivity and light entertainment, the A9 Plus will offer you a solid experience.

For $329.99, nearly half the price of the Tab S9 FE, you get a tablet that is more than capable of handling the everyday tasks you’ll throw at it. And if you really want that more premium productivity and gaming experience and have the money to spend, then a mid or high-range tablet is probably where you’ll want to spend it.

For a tablet that performs well for everyday use without breaking the bank, the Tab A9 Plus takes the gold medal in my book. Plus, with a sale, scoring a deal on the Tab A9 Plus would certainly be a win for value for money. At $329.99, this tablet is underrated, and for anyone looking for a sleek, powerful entry-level tablet, this might be the best bang for your buck.

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