Which is the very best mainstream pill?

  • Apple iPad Air (fifth Technology)

    The Apple possibility

    A potent discount

    $500 $599 Save $99

    The fifth era of Apple’s mid-range iPad is a compelling entry given its comparatively affordable worth and glorious function set. Whereas it lacks the Tab S9’s expandable storage, its highly effective M1 chip, elective 5G assist, and compact design make it a worthy competitor, particularly contemplating the numerous worth distinction. 


    • Spectacular efficiency from the M1 chip
    • Considerably cheaper
    • Optionally available 5G assist

    • No expandable storage
    • Much less spectacular show
    • Base mannequin solely gives 64GB of storage

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 in Graphite render

    Supply: Samsung

    Samsung Galaxy Tab S9

    An Android frontrunner

    Constructed to final

    The newest iteration of the S collection of tablets from Samsung improves on a number of the finest Android tablets, with an upgraded show, processor, and extra capacious battery. Nevertheless, it stays hamstrung by an uncompetitive price ticket, and even the brand new Snapdragon CPU cannot hold with Apple’s M1 chip. 


    • Upgraded AMOLED show
    • IP68 water and dirt resistance
    • S Pen included within the field

    • Pricier than the iPad Air
    • New processor nonetheless much less highly effective than Apple’s M1
    • Enhancements are iterative fairly than revolutionary


  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 and Apple iPad Air (fifth Technology) are each glorious mid-range tablets, however the iPad Air edges out the Tab S9 resulting from its superior processor, software program choices, and lower cost level.
  • The Tab S9 stands out with its OLED show, larger RAM choices, included S Pen, and IP68 water resistance score. It gives a terrific different for Android customers who’re prepared to pay a bit extra.
  • The Tab S9 and iPad Air have related proportions and aluminum chassis, however the iPad Air gives extra shade choices and a slimmer design. The S Pen on the Tab S9 is extra responsive and included in the associated fee, whereas Apple sells the Apple Pencil individually.

Samsung has unleashed its newest progeny upon the world at Galaxy Unpacked 2023, and amongst the silicon tide are the iterative Tab S9s. Whereas they are not revolutionary upgrades from the earlier era, they do make sufficient upgrades to vie for the title of finest Android pill.

However how does the vanilla Tab S9, arguably essentially the most mainstream mannequin of the lineup, examine to Apple’s glorious fifth era iPad Air, the mid-tier providing of their iPad pill line?

Worth, availability, and specs

Simply introduced in late July 2023, the Tab S9 is on the market now. The vanilla Tab S9, the least costly and most modest of the three pill line-up, begins at $800 for 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, rising to $920 for 12GB and 256GB. There isn’t any 5G possibility – it’s important to purchase the Tab S9+ for that.

The iPad Air launched again in March of 2022, with two choices: a 64GB mannequin that retails for $600, and an upgraded 256GB mannequin will run you $750 at MSRP. Including 5G performance to both mannequin will you run you someplace within the neighborhood of $150.

With worth in thoughts, let’s take a deep dive into the specs of each tablets.

  • Samsung Galaxy Tab S9Apple iPad Air (fifth Technology)
    Storage128GB, 256GB (expandable with microSD)64GB, 256GB
    CPUQualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for GalaxyApple M1
    Reminiscence8GB, 12GB8GB
    Working SystemAndroid 13 with One UI 5.1iPadOS 16
    PortsUSB-CUSB-C 3.1 (Gen 2)
    Show (Dimension, Decision)11-inch AMOLED, 2560×1600, 120Hz10.9-inch IPS LCD, 2360 x 1640, 60Hz
    ConnectivityWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.0, 5G (elective)
    Measurements165.8 x 254.3 x 5.9mm247.6 x 178.5 x 6.1mm
    ColoursBeige, GraphiteArea Gray, Starlight, Pink, Purple, Blue
    Weight498g461g (Wi-Fi), 462g (5G)
    Entrance Digicam12MP, f/2.4 ultrawide12MP, f/2.4 ultrawide
    Rear Cameras13MP, f/2.012MP, f/1.8



The 2 tablets are fairly equally proportioned, with the Tab S9 coming in barely taller and thinner. The iPad Air, nevertheless, is noticeably lighter, weighing over 30g lower than the Tab S9 at 462g to the S9’s 498g. Each tablets function an interesting aluminum chassis, and each (as you’d anticipate in 2023) use USB-C ports for charging/wired connection.

If aptitude is vital, the iPad Air is a transparent winner within the colorway battle. It is out there in 5 choices, and virtually all of them are bolder (and, to my eye, extra interesting) than the 2 choices supplied for the Tab S9’s chassis.

The Air is available in pink, purple, blue, house grey, and starlight, whereas the Tab S9 is simply out there in graphite and beige (even the naming conference is working in opposition to the Samsung pill right here).

ipad air 2022 floating

The rear of the iPad Air displays Apples minimalist design aesthetic, with simply the digicam, emblem, and an ellipsis of dots seen, whereas the Tab S9 appears to be like just a little chunkier largely as a result of magnetic dock for the included S Pen.

Each tablets assist a proprietary stylus: the superb S Pen in Samsung’s case, and the Apple Pencil within the case of the iPad Air. Each are stable styli however the newest era of the S Pen is marginally extra responsive (with a latency of two.8ms vs the Pencil’s 8ms) and has a greater, sleeker hand really feel.

Extra importantly, the S Pen is included in the price of the Tab S9, whereas Apple solely sells it individually.

One other vital distinction between the 2 tablets is their water resistance (or lack thereof). The Tab S9 boasts IP68 mud/water resistance—that is the best particle resistance score and second-highest water resistance score, that means it may possibly survive being absolutely immersed in water for as much as half-hour. The iPad has no equal protecting score in any respect.


ipad air 2022 home screen

By way of actual property, the 2 tablets shows are fairly comparable, with the Tab S9 masking 11-inches and the iPad Air only a hair smaller at 10.9-inches.

Nevertheless, the Tab S9 has a transparent edge when it comes to crispness and panel tech—its display screen is a pointy 2560 x 1600 AMOLED, whereas the iPad Air’s display screen is a 2360 x 1640 IPS LCD. That is to not say that the iPad Air’s display screen is not a pleasant show, it simply cannot match the Samsung’s AMOLED shade gamut and distinction superiority.

Software program

ipad air 2022 reading

Then again, the Apple ecosystem continues to steer the Android market when it comes to software program, bolstered by additions like Apple Arcade and iPadOS 16. Apple continues to spend to safe unique apps that simply aren’t out there on the Android facet, and has executed a formidable job total of optimizing numerous apps particularly to work (and show) nicely on their tablets.

The Tab S9 runs on Android 13, with Samsung’s One UI 5.1.1 layer providing numerous upgrades to the included apps and widgets, in addition to DeX software program which lets you join your pill to and management it by way of a desktop PC, opening up loads of expanded capabilities not out there on the Apple facet of the aisle.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 resting on the arm of a couch with DeX mode active

To some extent, software program desire will come right down to which ecosystem you are already invested in (notably true should you already personal different gadgets in both household), and which UI you are most comfy navigating. Objectively, nevertheless, Apple has the sting right here, due largely to their continued funding in high-quality app assist for his or her cell gadgets.

Broadly talking, Apple’s OS and software program library have the benefit of superior and continuously enhancing messaging and enhanced security and privateness instruments. Android, then again, usually has higher multitasking instruments and language and accessibility choices.

Keep in mind, nevertheless, that each have their flaws, as nicely. Apple’s fancy Messages upgrades solely work should you’re messaging one other Apple consumer, as an illustration.



Whereas the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip from Qualcomm is a powerhouse – particularly with a number of Samsung-specific upgrades – it nonetheless cannot examine to the effectivity and energy of Apple’s M1 chip.

That mentioned, the Tab S9 has an elective improve to 12GB of RAM, whereas the iPad Air is simply out there in an 8GB providing. The extra RAM might have an effect in some notably reminiscence intensive purposes, or whereas multi-tasking, however for essentially the most half, the sting supplied by the M1 chip makes the iPad Air the superior performer.

By way of battery life, Apple advertises that the iPad Air ought to final you for 10 hours of productiveness duties, possible considerably much less below larger hundreds like gaming or streaming video. The Tab S9 edges it out however is in the identical normal ballpark, packing an 8,400mAh battery with an marketed lifetime of 12 hours; not as massive an improve as you may anticipate primarily based on capability, which is probably going as a result of effectivity of the M1.

It is also notable that the iPad Air may be upgraded to assist 5G at the price of a further $150, whereas the Tab S9 would not embrace 5G assist at any worth. For that, you’d need to improve to the S9’s bigger and costlier sibling, the Tab S9+.



Whereas the rear digicam on the Tab S9 gives a barely larger decision than the Air’s (13MP vs. the Air’s 12MP), the precise high quality of the 2 cameras is pretty related.

The front-facing cameras on each tablets sport the identical decision at 12MP every, and each provide ultrawide framing and may report video at 4K and 60fps.

Which is best for you?

Whereas they’re very shut, in case you have no specific loyalty to both the Apple or Android ecosystems, the iPad Air is my alternative due largely to its superior processor, extra strong software program choices, and lower cost level.

apple ipad air 5th gen

Apple iPad Air (fifth Technology)

Edges out the S9

The most effective mid-range tablets on the market

$500 $599 Save $99

Largely resulting from its worth, the superb M1 processor, and the frankly unfair benefit of Apple’s walled backyard of software program, the iPad Air edges out the Tab S9 within the battle for superior mid-range pill. That is very true should you’re extra comfy/acquainted with Apple gadgets and UI, or already personal different Apple merchandise.

Nevertheless, should you’re already invested in Android apps and gadgets and do not thoughts paying a number of hundred {dollars} extra, the Tab S9 is a wonderful different, particularly when you think about its AMOLED show and improved sturdiness – to not point out the truth that when you issue within the included S Pen and better base storage, the worth distinction virtually disappears.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 in Graphite render

Supply: Samsung

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9


Simply edged out

A stable new entry in Samsung’s proud S collection lineage, the brand new Tab S9 simply barely misses the mark set by the iPad Air largely resulting from its inflated worth. Keep in mind, nevertheless, that if you wish to add an Apple Pencil or extra storage to the iPad Air, that benefit shrinks significantly.

128GB, 256GB (expandable with microSD)

Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy

8GB, 12GB

Working System
Android 13 with One UI 5.1



Show (Dimension, Decision)
11-inch AMOLED, 2560×1600, 120Hz

Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.3

165.8 x 254.3 x 5.9mm

Beige, Graphite



Entrance Digicam
12MP, f/2.4 ultrawide

Rear Cameras
13MP, f/2.0

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