Apple iPad Air vs Samsung Galaxy Tab S9


At its Galaxy Unpacked event, which took place on July 26, 2023, Samsung unveiled a lot of new hardware, revamping its foldable, smart wearables and tablet lineup. The focus here is the last on the list, the 2023 Galaxy Tab S9 series, particularly the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9, which costs $800.

For its price, the Galaxy Tab S9 delivers top-of-the-line hardware, but for those creatives who want to get work done on the go, it might not be the ideal device. The availability of the iPad Pro series for $800 — which we’ve already compared with Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra — and the iPad Air for $600 makes the competition even more difficult.

Here, we look at the reasons you should consider the iPad Air instead of the Galaxy Tab S9 and perhaps save $200 for other accessories that you deem important.

Reasons to buy the iPad Air instead of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9

The iPad has held a long-standing position in the tablet market as the default choice, and the iPad Air offers some of the best features of the iPad Pro for $600; here are the reasons to consider it over the Galaxy Tab S9.

1. Professional-grade applications


Although the iPad Air is a level below Apple’s pro-grade tablet, the 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro, it has access to the best applications made for the iPad and every software feature that iPadOS 17 will offer when it releases in Fall 2023.

The first and foremost use case where the iPad looms over its Android counterparts is its ability to support creative workflows. Apps like Illustrator, Procreate, and other offerings from either the Affinity or Adobe families all bring features found on their Windows or macOS counterparts. For most users, these serve as viable alternatives.

And if you work with video or audio, Apple also launched Final Cut Pro and Logic Pro for the iPad. These applications are the closest we’ve seen Apple come when creating first-party professional tools for the iPad. And while they have shortcomings, they set a positive precedent and show us that the iPad is a viable professional tool.

2. Developed accessory ecosystem

iPad Air 5 screen Shot Apple event folio
Source: Apple

The iPad’s next advantage over the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 is its accessory ecosystem. But note the step up in experience here isn’t only because of the number of accessories available but also because of how they seamlessly integrate into iPad. It makes the iPad viable for those whose work is also based on a browser! Because device software and its compatibility with accessories greatly affect the user experience in such a workflow.

Then there’s the third-party accessory ecosystem which includes major brands like Logitech, ESR, and more, who create keyboards and styli compatible with the iPad. This means that if Apple’s accessories aren’t capable of meeting your needs, there is a chance that you will find something more affordable or feature-rich in the market.

We rarely see name brands create accessories for tablets from Samsung, meaning, more often than not, you will have to default to Samsung hardware which isn’t always ideal for every user.

3. Long-term and timely software support


While the above two reasons are enough to support picking up an iPad Air over the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9, we’d also like to mention long-term and timely software support. There’s no denying the fact that Samsung offers — by far — some of the best software support in the Android realm. Still, if you’re looking for yearly upgrades that positively impact the experience, Apple has its competition beat.

iPadOS has rapidly evolved in the past years, and the fixed timeline that it follows, giving us a major update every Fall with smaller follow-up updates coming in tow, is a huge bonus.

Reasons to buy the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9

Although the iPad has its advantages regarding creative workflows, it isn’t without its shortcomings as a tablet. Hence, in the next section, we’ll look at some of the strengths of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9, stating why you should buy it if you’re looking for a tablet, especially within the Android realm.

1. 11-inch AMOLED display


Pocketnow / Adam Z. Lein

The first and foremost strength of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 is its display. Gone is the 11-inch TFT LCD we’ve seen previously on Samsung’s cheapest tablet, as Samsung is adopting an AMOLED panel for its $800 tablet. The display has an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz, which means the UI will appear smoother in daily use.

The aspect ratio on the tablet — plus its use of AMOLED technology — also means it’s great for watching content.

2. Expandable storage

The next advantage of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 is that it has more storage onboard than the iPad Air and features a slot for storage expansion via microSD. You can add up to 2TB of extra space to the tablet, which means carrying around media files (or even those related to work) will be painless.

3. Durability

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 series LI 2

Lastly, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 features the advantage of durability as it features an IP rating — IP68 to be specific — which makes it possible to have the tablet around the pool or even available for outdoor use. Then there’s Armor Aluminum, which is in use throughout the build of the device. The material has shown its ability to resist damage and will ensure the Galaxy Tab S9 lasts long.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 vs Apple iPad Air (5th Gen.): Which should you buy?

If you’re looking for a tablet to enjoy movies and TV shows and then occasionally get some work done — via Samsung Dex — the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 will likely be the perfect choice. Also, even though Samsung includes its stylus in the box — and not as a separate purchase — the lack of developed professional-grade applications hurts its standing as a tool for creative professionals.

But if you want to ensure your tablet can aid your work from the get-go, the iPad should be an undisputed choice.

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 PBi Main
    Samsung Galaxy Tab S9

    Featuring an 11-inch Dynamic AMOLED display, Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chipset, and 8400 mAh battery, the Tab S9 delivers a powerful performance in a sleek design.

  • PBI-iPad-Air-5-Space-Grey-1
    iPad Air (5th Generation)

    iPad Air 5th Gen brings the highly rated M1 processor, 5G connectivity (for cellular models), Center Stage capability, and all-new colours. It starts at $599 for the 64GB WiFi-only model, with an upgrade to 256GB of internal storage available.


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