Galaxy Tab S9 FE gets improved S Pen, lacks external DeX support

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Samsung has just taken the wraps off two new Fan Edition (FE) tablets. The Galaxy Tab S9 FE and Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ give you an excellent all-around Android tablet experience for less. The devices aren’t as powerful as the Galaxy Tab S9 series flagships launched a couple of months back, but there’s still plenty going for them. Most notably, they bring an unexpected S Pen upgrade over the flagship models.

The Galaxy Tab S9 FE’s S Pen reduces accidental presses

Samsung’s high-end tablets come with a built-in S Pen. The stylus pen can come in handy while taking notes, editing documents, and in many other applications. Its customizable side button serves as a remote controller to quickly launch apps, execute functions, and even take pictures. The accessory also supports air gestures and lets you scroll web pages without touching the screen.


However, users have long had a complaint with the side button of the S Pen, which comes with Samsung’s “Ultra” flagship smartphone as well. They say the button is a little too soft, leaving too much room for accidental presses or errors. The company has listened to this feedback and made the button harder to press with the latest edition. The two Galaxy Tab S9 FE models are the first to get the improved S Pen.

While Samsung didn’t mention this change in its press materials for the new tablets, sources have told SamMobile that the side button on the new S Pen requires 170 grams of force to actuate. The older version that ships with the Galaxy Tab S9 flagships and the Galaxy S23 Ultra requires 160 grams of force. It isn’t a massive change, but the ten grams of additional force is enough to prevent or reduce accidental presses.

The improved stylus pen should ship with the Galaxy S24 Ultra next year and all subsequent devices. However, for the time being, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE and Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ are the only devices getting it out of the box. Note that the S Pen is available to purchase separately, so new buyers may get the improved one. Samsung may have applied this change to the S Pen Creator Edition as well.


The new FE tablets lack external DeX support

The unexpected S Pen upgrade on the Galaxy Tab S9 FE series comes with a similarly unexpected Samsung DeX downgrade. The new FE tablets don’t support DeX on external monitors and TVs, limiting it to on-device use. Wireless DeX is missing too. You have to run the desktop environment on the tablets and attach a mouse and keyboard.

This downgrade is because Samsung has equipped the new tablets with USB-C 2.0 rather than USB-C 3.2. The former lacks DisplayPort (DP) capabilities for attaching external displays. The Galaxy Tab S7 FE and the newly launched Galaxy S23 FE have USB-C 3.2 with DP support, enabling a full-fledged Samsung DeX experience.

On the bright side, the Galaxy Tab S9 FE and Galaxy Tab S9 FE+ boast IP68 dust and water resistance. That’s the same level of protection as Samsung’s flagship tablets and smartphones, including the Galaxy S23 Ultra. The new tablets are also eligible for our major Android OS updates, the most the Korean firm promises for any of its devices. They arrive with Android 13 and will get updates up to Android 17. Read our Galaxy Tab S9 FE hands-on for more.