Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you
Australian technology news, reviews, and guides to help you

Water resistant tablets return with Samsung’s Galaxy Tab S9

It’s been some time since tablet makers embraced the idea of a waterproof tab, but Samsung finally has it in mind with the Galaxy Tab S9.

Phones have supported water resistance for quite some time, but tablets? Not so much.

Even though you can find water resistance in Kindle eReaders and Kobo’s waterproof alternative, the idea of a tablet sporting water resistance is something of a bit of legend. It used to exist in the days of Sony’s tablets, but since then, the idea has disappeared.

It’s a comment we’ve included in years of writing iPad reviews, repeatedly, again and again and again, but there’s still no response from Apple beyond including water resistance in every iPhone it makes.

And it’s not just Apple, either.

No other tablet maker has picked up the mantle that is water resistance and thrown it in their competitors, leaving it just to the world of phones and those old Sony tablets that no one knows about anymore.

That appears to be changing, though, with Samsung set to offer an IP68 water resistant tablet this year, as the Galaxy Tab is reborn in the Tab S9.

What’s new in the Galaxy Tab S9?

The latest in Samsung’s ongoing “Tab” tablet range, Samsung is improving the specs and screen, while also bringing more than a modicum of water resistance, making it one of the first Android tablets in Australia to feature waterproofing built in since 2015 when the Sony Xperia Z4 Tablet was released.

Eight years is a long time in between waterproof tablets, but Samsung is finally bringing one back to market, and it’ll carry more than just that IP68 rating.

There are three sizes to the range, with an 11 inch, 12.4 inch, and massive 14.6 inch Tab S9, Tab S9+, and Tab S9 Ultra, the latter of which updates the Tab S8 Ultra we checked out last year.

Inside, it’s much the same hardware as the Galaxy S23 Ultra, with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2, up to 1TB storage, and between 8, 12, and 16GB RAM depending on how much you spend.

Being a tablet, these will be WiFi primarily (with support for WiFi 6E), though 5G options exist, as will differences in the cameras on each. Opt for the 11 inch Tab S9 and you’ll find one 13 megapixel camera on the back and a 12 megapixel on the front, while the 12.4 inch Tab S9+ gets the 12 megapixel on the front and a combination of 13 wide and 8 ultra-wide on the back. The Tab S9 Ultra will get that back combination as well, but replace the front with two 12 megapixel cameras. Confused yet?

Hopefully the tablet range won’t be confusing in the hands, sporting big batteries, four speakers, support for Dolby Atmos spatial sound, a fingerprint reader in the display, and support for the S-Pen, allowing you to write and draw using Samsung’s stylus.

Like the Z Fold 5 it’s being announced with, you can expect some multi-tasking improvements to Android 13 in the Tab S9 range, supporting up to three apps running together in adjustable windows, floating windows in pop-up view, and even an option for the S-Pen, with the “Creator Edition” made with a more comfortable grip and a different tilt angle to make it easier to use.

The S-Pen Creator Edition will be one of the extra accessories, but it won’t be alone, with a Book Cover Keyboard able to turn either the 11, 12, or 14 inch Tab S9 into a laptop of sorts, supporting Samsung’s DeX desktop experience mode, as well.

“While growth of the tablet market at large has slowed, there is a clear demand for premium devices,” said Garry McGregor, Vice President for Mobile at Samsung Australia.

“The Tab S9 Series has been designed to set the new standard for premium tablet experiences by enhancing how our customers currently use tablets, as well as providing them the tools to be creative and productive wherever the urge may strike,” he said.

In short, it’s another Galaxy Tab range made for work and play, but with one difference: waterproofing.

Specifically, it’ll be IP68 translated to durability for the bath and beach, though those ratings are tested on freshwater, so be sure to wash off these tablets if you take them to the pool or sea later on. The casing will also sport some aluminium casing to keep the body reinforced, handy if it ever takes some accidental knocks, as well.

Australian and pricing availability for the Galaxy Tab S9 range

But it’s one that will come with a reasonable cost, as well. It seems that a water-resistant tablet doesn’t come cheap, starting at $1299 in Australia fort the 128GB 11 inch WiFi-only Tab S9, and maxing out to $1749 for a 256GB WiFi/5G Tab S9.

The slightly bigger 12 inch Tab S9+ will start at $1699 with 256GB and WiFi only, stretching out as uch as $2149 for the 512GB WiFi/5G model, while the Tab S9 Ultra starts at $1999 for the 14 inch variant with 256GB and WiFi only, and can hit as high as $2949 for 1TB storage with both WiFi and 5G.

No doubt, those are some hefty prices made to compete with Apple’s iPad Pro, though whether customers see the value remains to be seen.

You’ll be able to find them all in August, when they land alongside the Z Fold and Z Flip 5 models in Australia from August 18.

Bath are no longer the enemy of the Galaxy Tab range.
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