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Apple 2024 iPad Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: Which high-end tablet is better?

Apple iPad Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: Which tablet is better?
Apple, Samsung

The premium tablet market is dominated by two contenders. First, there's the just-announced 2024 13-inch Apple iPad Pro. And then there's the 14.6-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. Whatever your on-the-go computing needs, you can't go wrong with either high-end tablet. But if you're going to invest upwards of $1,300 or more (sometimes considerably more) on a new and souped-up tablet, you'll want to make sure you're getting a model that'll best meet your needs over the next few years.

Our in-house team of tech experts has compared these two popular tablets head-to-head to provide you with the information needed to make the best possible choice. We'll help you figure out which tablet and what configuration of that tablet is best.

iPadOS or Android: Which OS is better?

The biggest difference between the 2024 13-inch Apple iPad Pro and the 14.6-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra tablet is their operating systems. This plays a huge role when it comes to compatibility with the other equipment you already use, like your smartphone, smartwatch, laptop, desktop computer -- even your wireless earbuds.

The iPad runs Apple's iPadOS 17 operating system. Apple offers a vast ecosystem of compatible equipment, apps and services. The new iPad Pros can also run what Apple calls "Pro apps" like Final Cut 2 Pro (for video editing) and Logic Pro 2 (for audio production). These optional apps fully utilize the iPad Pro's powerful new M4 processor and upgraded display. And the iPad Pro fully integrates with all of Apple's services like iCloud, Apple Music, Apple News, Apple TV+, Apple Fitness+ and Apple Arcade.

Keep in mind that the 2024 iPad Pro also comes in an 11-inch model with the same hardware configuration options. The main difference is the display size. We chose the 13-inch version because it's now Apple's highest-end tablet with the largest display, just as the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is Samsung's premium tablet option.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra runs Android 13. Samsung offers its own robust array of compatible accessories, apps and services that are part of the Galaxy product line. Many of these rely heavily on Google and Samsung's SmartThings platform. So, when choosing a tablet, it's smart to survey the equipment you already have.

2024 13" Apple iPad Pro: At a glance

Display size: 13-inches | Display resolution: 2,752 x 2,064 pixels | Display type: Ultra Retina XDR (Tandem OLED) | Processor: Apple M4 | Storage options: 256GB, 512GB, 1TB, 2TB | Average battery life: Up to 10 hours | Operating system: iPadOS 17 (or later) | Dimensions: 11.09 x 8.48 x 0.20 inches | Weight: 1.28 pounds | Port: USB Type-C | StylusApple Pencil Pro (Optional) | Keyboard/cover: Apple Magic Keyboard or cover (optional) | Price range: $1,299 to $2,599 (plus accessories)

2024 13-inch Apple iPad Pro

This is the most powerful and versatile Apple iPad ever released, period. Not only is the new Apple M4 processor cutting-edge, but so is the amazingly detailed and vibrant 13-inch Ultra Retina XDR (Tandem OLED) display. It boasts a 2,752 x 2,046-pixel resolution, up to a 120Hz refresh rate and a 2,000,000:1 contrast ratio. The display's maximum brightness is an unprecedented 1,600 nits. 

The tablet is incredibly thin (0.20 inches) and weighs a mere 1.28 pounds. Despite all of the new technology that's packed into this powerhouse of a tablet, battery life is up to 10 hours (which is consistent with all other current iPad models).

For the first time, the Tandem OLED Ultra Retina XDR display is available with either standard glass or optional nano-texture display glass (which does a better job reducing glare from ambient light sources). This iPad Pro offers Apple's redesigned CPU, GPU and NPU, an advanced front- and rear-facing camera setup, a four-speaker sound system (with spatial audio support), an array of four studio-quality microphones and so much more. Note that to upgrade to the nano-texture display glass, you'll need to buy an iPad Pro configured with at least 1TB of storage.

This is the tablet you want in your hands when using the new Final Cut 2 app for video editing or the Logic Pro 2 app for music production. And beyond the apps that come preinstalled, there are more than two million additional apps available from the App Store, with many now being upgraded to support the Apple Pencil Pro and redesigned Magic Keyboard. Power tablet users can leave their laptops behind and have more processing power and performance than ever before possible, using just an iPad.

Sure, the iPad Pro is ideal for graphic designers, videographers, content creators, photographers, musicians and audio producers, but it's just as useful to college students (and grads) and everyday users who need extra processing power and a larger display for multitasking. It's also a stellar mobile gaming device and productivity tool. The new M4 processor offers a 9-core CPU, 10-core GPU and 16-core Neural engine and 8GB of RAM in the 256GB or 512GB version. With the 1TB or 2TB version, this gets boosted to a 10-core CPU, 10-core GPU and 16-core Neural engine with 16GB of RAM.

Whether you're streaming music or video, using the rear-facing camera to scan paper documents, shooting 4K video, or using the Apple Pencil Pro to handwrite, draw or annotate on the display, the new 13-inch iPad Pro offers advanced processing power, a high storage capacity and an extra-large touchscreen that makes it easy to handle even the most advanced tasks just about anywhere. In this version of the iPad, the front-facing camera is now located along the landscape edge. This makes participating in video calls, online classes or virtual meetings a more natural experience, especially when using the camera's Center Stage feature that'll keep you centered in the frame even if you move around.

We're fans of the 13-inch iPad Pro because the display offers plenty of on-screen real estate for performing complex tasks, streaming video content or multitasking two apps at once. An 11-inch version of this tablet, with almost identical capabilities) is also available.

For more help deciding which iPad model is best for you, check out our comprehensive and freshly updated iPad buyer's guide.

2024 13-inch iPad Pro: Configuration options and prices

The 13-inch iPad Pro is available in your choice of a space black or silver casing. All configurations of the iPad Pro come with the tablet, a USB Type-C charging cable and a 20W USB Type-C power adapter. The Apple Pencil Pro stylus and Apple Magic Keyboard are sold separately. 

For the iPad Pro configurations with 1TB and 2TB, you can upgrade the display at the time of purchase to Apple's new Nano-texture glass. This enhancement greatly reduces screen glare caused by ambient light and makes what you're viewing appear more vibrant and sharper in various lighting situations. If you'll be using your iPad for graphic-intensive work -- like video editing, photo editing, streaming video (TV shows or movies) or gaming -- we recommend choosing this upgrade.

Here are the 2024 13-inch iPad Pro hardware configurations currently offered:

Wi-Fi 6E-only configurations

  • 256GB, Wi-Fi only: $1,299
  • 512GB, Wi-Fi only: $1,499
  • 1TB, Wi-Fi only, Standard glass: $1,899 
  • 1TB, Wi-Fi only, Nano-texture glass: $1,999 
  • 2TB, Wi-Fi only, Standard glass: $2,299
  • 2TB, Wi-Fi only, Nano-texture glass: $2,399

Wi-Fi 6E + 5G cellular configurations

  • 256GB, Wi-Fi + cellular: $1,499 (plus monthly cellular service plan)
  • 512GB, Wi-Fi + cellular: $1,699 (plus monthly cellular service plan)
  • 1TB, Wi-Fi + cellular: $1,999 with Standard glass (plus monthly cellular service plan)
  • 1TB, Wi-Fi + cellular: $2,199 with Nano-texture glass (plus monthly cellular service plan)
  • 2TB, Wi-Fi + cellular: $2,399 with Standard glass (plus monthly cellular service plan)
  • 2TB, Wi-Fi + cellular: $2,599 with Nano-texture glass (plus monthly cellular service plan)

Recommended optional accessories

14.6" Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: At a glance

Display size: 14.6-inch touchscreen | Display resolution: 2,960 x 1,848 pixels | Display Type: Dynamic AMOLED 2x | Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 | Storage: 256GB, 512GB or 1TB | Average battery life: Up to 16 hours | Operating system: Android 13 | Dimensions: 12.85 x 8.21 x 0.21 inches | Weight: 1.61 pounds | Port: USB Type-C | Stylus included: Yes, Samsung S Pen | Keyboard/cover included: Optional | Price range: $1,050 to $1,400

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

The Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is a flagship Android tablet. The Tab S9 Ultra is equipped with a fast and powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor. It also takes full advantage of a gorgeous and high-resolution 14.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2x touchscreen display with a lightning-quick 120Hz refresh rate. And it's one of the very few tablets rated IP68 for water and dust resistance. This feature alone makes this tablet stand out from the competition -- including all Apple iPads.

Battery life per charge is up to 16 hours, which is considerably longer than what the iPad Pro offers. The tablet's quad-speaker sound system supports Dolby Atmos surround sound. On the front of the tablet, there's a 12MP wide and 12MP ultra-wide camera, while on the back, you'll discover a 13MP wide and 8MP ultra-wide camera. 

One major benefit to the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: It comes with a microSD memory card slot that supports cards up to 1TB. Apple iPads don't come with a memory card slot -- and memory upgrades on an Apple iPad can be incredibly pricey.

While the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is packed with some advanced and impressive hardware, it's the latest version of Android 13 that makes this tablet shine. The operating system now supports the circle and search feature. Using the S Pen, you can circle just about anything written or displayed on the tablet's screen and then learn about it via a Google search without leaving whatever app you're using.

This is the first tablet to incorporate Samsung's Galaxy AI, which makes this model smarter in all kinds of interesting ways. With the new Transcript Assist feature, note-taking is easier than ever. You can record meetings, classes or conversations and have the tablet create detailed transcriptions and a text-based summary almost instantly. The photo editing tools integrated into the tablet have also been enhanced with Android 13. And that's only the beginning of what the latest version of this OS can do.

Like all Android tablets, the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is Google-centric. It comes with all of the popular Google apps and services preinstalled. Plus, you can access optional apps from either the Google Play Store or the Galaxy App Store.

Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra: Configuration options and prices

The top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra has a starting price of $1,400, but all configurations of this tablet frequently go on sale. Plus, Samsung's website offers a generous trade-in program that gets you up to $800 in instant credit toward your purchase when you trade in an eligible device. And the savings doesn't stop there. Through the Samsung Offer Program, students, educators, government employees, military personnel, veterans, military families and first responders are all eligible for an additional discount when buying the tablet from Samsung's website.

All configurations of the tablet are available in your choice of a graphite or beige casing color. Unlike the Apple iPad Pro, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 is only available with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. There's no cellular connectivity option. On the plus side, the Samsung S Pen stylus is included with the tablet. Also included is a USB Type-C cable (but no power adapter), a two-month trial subscription to Adobe Lightroom and a six-month trial subscription to Microsoft 365.

Wi-Fi 6E configurations

  • 256GB SSD storage, 12GB RAM: $1,050
  • 512GB SSD storage, 12GB RAM: $1,170
  • 1TB SSD storage, 16GB RAM: $1,400

Recommended accessories

Which is better, the iPad Pro or the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra?


Between the 2024 Apple 13-inch iPad Pro and Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra, which tablet is best for you comes down to the other equipment you're already using. If you're heavily invested in the Apple ecosystem, stick with an Apple iPad Pro. But if you already use an Android smartphone and smartwatch, or a Windows computer, and you consider yourself to be a power user, go with the Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra. Both tablets offer large and vibrant touchscreens, nicely handle multitasking, give you easy access to the internet and provide the computing power to handle advanced tasks like video or photo editing.

That said, when the 2024 Apple 13-inch iPad Pro is paired with the new Apple Pencil Pro stylus and Apple's redesigned Magic Keyboard, this bundle offers more power and versatility than an Apple MacBook laptop thanks to the tablet's M4 processor, 13-inch Ultra Retina XDR (Tandem OLED) display and up to 2TB of internal storage. At the moment, even the top-of-the-line MacBook Pro uses the M3 Max processor with a Liquid Retina XDR display that's not a touchscreen, so for certain tasks that require a tremendous amount of processing power, some users may prefer the latest iPad Pro over a MacBook.

As an Android tablet, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra is an extremely powerful device, but even with the optional keyboard and a stylus, it's still very much a tablet that can handle some tasks a laptop is capable of, but we don't consider it to be a true laptop replacement. Instead, the Tab S9 Ultra is among the very best Android tablets currently on the market and offers great value for the money for tablet users who require higher-end processing power.

Less expensive alternatives to the iPad Pro and Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra

If these premium tablets offer too much computing power and are outside of your budget, don't worry -- you have plenty of other options. A good starting place to look is our best tablets of 2024 roundup, including our top Android tablet picks and best tablets for kids. If price is a serious sticking point, we like these best budget tablets under $300.

Plus, we found plenty of top-rated tablets on sale now, so you can stretch your dollar even further.

When it comes to keeping up with the latest technologies, our team of tech experts has you covered with comprehensive product roundups, in-depth product reviews and details about where and how to find the best deals. We cover everything from laptops and action cameras to the best TVssmart grillstabletssmartwatches and noise-canceling earbuds and headphones.

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