There have been a few rumblings about the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 in recent weeks, and it seems as though the Android tablet series could arrive with two cheaper FE (Fan Edition) models as part of the range – which would be something of a surprise.
The team at SamMobile has been joining the dots and comparing the model numbers posting Geekbench benchmarks. Two of those models, SM-X516B and SM-X616B, could relate to budget-level versions of the Tab S9.
Based on previous convention, the Tab S9, Tab S9 Plus and Tab S9 Ultra should have the model numbers SM-X716, SM-X816 and SM-X916 respectively. That means the two extra models that have turned up are something of a mystery.
The FE returns
You may remember that a Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 FE was launched in 2021, but we didn't get an FE tablet with the Galaxy Tab S8 the year after. The signs now are that the FE model might be making a comeback – as it might well for Samsung's phone line too.
The FE version of the Galaxy S22 phone didn't materialise – matching the tablet series – but there has been plenty of talk that there will in fact be a Samsung Galaxy S23 FE this year. It would seem that the Fan Edition is back in favor.
According to the benchmarks, these tablets are going to be fitted with a mid-range Exynos 1380 chipset and either 6GB or 8GB of RAM. They should appear alongside the main Tab S9 tablets around August or September time (following the schedule of the Galaxy Tab S8).
Analysis: covering the price points
In previous years – except last year – Samsung has used FE tablets and phones to appeal to people who don't want to spend flagship-level prices but do want devices they can rely on. All the best mid-range phones and tablets make compromises, but the right ones.
It's not clear exactly why the FE models didn't appear alongside the Galaxy Tab S8 or the Galaxy S22, but the ongoing effects of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty probably had something to do with it.
Another possibility is that sales weren't great for devices like the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE, so it's going to be interesting to see if that changes, should Samsung decide to produce two Galaxy Tab S9 FE models (possibly with different sizes or configuration options).
In theory, these FE devices should be the perfect balance of price and performance, but it can be a difficult sweet spot to hit. For inspiration, Samsung need only look to Apple, which covers a whole range of price points with its iPads.