Nexus 9 vs Galaxy Tab S: What Buyers Need to Know

After months of reports and rumors floating around last week Google finally announced and revealed the brand new HTC Nexus 9 tablet running the new Android 5.0 Lollipop. Now that the tablet is officially confirmed, many prospective buyers are weighing their options when it comes to buying an Android tablet.

With tons of tablets readily available for Android or Apple users, and new ones on the horizon, here we want to compare the brand new Nexus 9 to Samsung’s latest flagship tablet, the Galaxy Tab S. It’s one of the best (and most expensive) tablets available to date, and is a premium device worthy of competing with the Nexus 9.


Read: 7 Nexus 9 Features You’ll Love

When it comes to buying a tablet there are tons of choices readily available. However, many want to get the latest and greatest devices, and those are the iPad Air 2, the Nexus 9, or something from Samsung’s ever-growing lineup. Here we’ll compare the Nexus 9 to Samsung’s latest 10.5-inch Galaxy Tab S.

Nexus 9


Samsung’s Galaxy Tab lineup is rather confusing to average consumers, especially when you walk into a store and see three different types available. There is the cheap Galaxy Tab series, the TabPRO (which was replaced by the S) and now the brand new Samsung Galaxy Tab S available in two sizes. The last model is the newest, best, but also the most expensive.


Read: Samsung Galaxy Tab S (8.4-inch) Review

The Samsung Tab S is already available, and has a stunning display that many can’t match, more details on it specifically can be found from our review linked to above. While we don’t know what buyers wants, needs, and budget are, here we’ll share a few differences and key features both tablets have to offer in hopes to help you make a better decision on your next tablet purchase.


First up would be the display, as that’s one of the most important aspect of any mobile device. Samsung’s always prided themselves on its AMOLED panels, and the new Tab S is the first Quad-HD Super AMOLED display on a tablet. It’s the best screen we’ve ever seen, but will need to get our hands on the Nexus 9 for a true comparison.

Speaking of the display, the Galaxy Tab S comes in 8.4 or 10.5-inch sizes with a 2560 x 1440 resolution for crisp images, clear text, and vivid videos. This is the same resolution on both sizes, so the 8.4-inch will be better, technically.  The Nexus 9 though, comes in slightly larger and sits nicely between the two options.



Google’s HTC Nexus 9 has an 8.9-inch 2048 x 1536 display, offering slightly less pixels but a perfect middle ground in terms of size. It also is wider offering a 4:3 aspect ratio (like the iPad) rather than the long and skinny 16:9 all other Android tablets employ. So technically the Galaxy Tab S displays will be more crisp, but both offer stunning images and should be nearly identical to the average eye. The important aspect is the size, and for this comparison we’ll be focusing mainly on the 10.5-inch model, which means Google’s tablet is slightly smaller.


Google’s Nexus 9 is also different from other Android tablets and offers an Apple-like 4:3 aspect ratio as mentioned above, vs the long and this 16:9 they’ve used in the past. This makes it easier to hold, better for browsing the web, but won’t offer as good of a video playback experience.

Both tablets have stunning displays, but the Super AMOLED from Samsung should technically offer better colors, as the wide color gamut and AMOLED technology is quite stunning. That being said, my own Tab S is almost too bright, and the colors are so over-saturated it almost looks fake, but in a good way. It’s hard to explain, and you may want to check it out yourself at a retail store.



The design of the Samsung Galaxy Tab S is nearly identical to almost every other tablet ever released by Samsung. It looks like a blown up Galaxy S5 with the textured plastic housing on the back, centered rear camera, aluminum bezels on the side (in gold only with the Tab S lineup) and a white or black front and back with the usual Samsung dedicated hardware home button.

That being said the Tab S is incredibly thin, coming in at just 6.6mm thick. That’s nearly as thin as the all-new iPad Air 2 that’s 6.1mm, but you’ll barely be able to tell a difference.


However, Google’s Nexus 9 offers a few important features the Tab S doesn’t. For one, they’ve changed the approach of their tablets and the Nexus 9 finally has a brushed aluminum design around the entire outer edge, similar to the Tab S. That said, for weight and comfort while using it the back is still a soft touch matte plastic design. Available in black, white, or sand (gold) color options.


Google’s Nexus 9 is sleek, elegant, and has subtle curves as it wraps around the aluminum sides to offer a better experience that feels thinner in the hand than it really is. The Nexus 9 isn’t nearly as thin, but the sides curve to a rather thin point and will make it feel nearly the same thickness in your hands. One major design aspect you’ll miss from Samsung and love on the Nexus 9 though, is the dual HTC Boomsound front facing speakers.

Samsung had a tablet with front speakers years ago, but abandoned this obvious and excellent design approach. Both tablets have a sleek design, thin bezels, excellent hardware, and are built to impress. The Galaxy Tab S has a lot to offer, is extremely thin, built well, and even has an infrared sensor for a remote control function. So they both have pros and cons.

Release Date

Before we talk about specs and features, you may be asking yourself about the release date. The Tab S was announced and released earlier this year, and is readily available from a variety of outlets and stores in both the 8.4 and 10.5-inch size option. Google’s Nexus 9 though, went up for pre-order last week and won’t be in stores until November 3rd.


If you’re looking to buy a tablet today, right now, the Tab S or Nexus 7 are both excellent choices. However, we’d advise most buyers wait until the 3rd to try a Nexus 9 out in a store like Best Buy.

Read: Nexus 9 Release Date Breakdown

Google’s past releases haven’t been extremely smooth when it comes to availability and stock, but that was much better with the release of the Nexus 7. This year though, things are looking even better as Google has pre-orders available from Amazon, Best Buy, the Google Play Store, and others are coming soon.

The Nexus 9 should be shipping on the 3rd of November, in stores, and we’re hearing plenty of stock will be available to make this Google’s biggest and best Android Nexus tablet launch to date.


This brings us to our next topic, price. Buying a new tablet isn’t cheap, and both of these tablets come at a pretty high price point. That being said, Google’s usually cheaper than the competition but this time that gap is closing. The smaller 8.4-inch Galaxy Tab S 16GB is the same $399 price point as Google’s 16GB Nexus 9, but the larger 10.5-inch Tab S starts off at $499, costing buyers $100 more.

However, they’re on sale for a few dollars less right now at places like Amazon, but both options still cost more than Google’s new tablet, unless you get the smaller 8.4-inch Tab S. It’s worth noting the Tab S has a micro-SD slot, so getting extra storage is rather cheap compared to the $900 or so you’ll pay for a 128GB iPad Air 2.

Screen Shot 2014-10-21 at 1.02.24 PM

The Nexus 9 comes in three variants, as well as three colors too. Black, White, and Sand Gold. So how much?

Google’s Nexus 9 will be $399 for the 16GB model, $479 for the 32GB option, and $599 for the 32GB 4G LTE flavor. There is no micro-SD slot to expand storage, and there’s no 64 or 128GB option available. This means if you need more storage you’ll probably want to get a 16GB Galaxy Tab S and a 64 or 128GB Micro-SD card on the cheap.

In the end the 8.4-inch Tab S and the 9-inch Nexus 9 are about the same price, but the Nexus 9 undercuts the Galaxy Tab S 10.5-inch by a cool $100.


So what will that $399 and $499 starting price get buyers? A pretty impressive tablet from both manufacturers actually. That being said, the Nexus 9 at $399 looks to be the better buy with neat features like front facing speakers, and a good 8 megapixel camera. Here’s the detailed breakdown for those interested.

Nexus 9 Specs

  • 8.9-inch 2048×1536 Full HD display (4:3 aspect ratio, and Gorilla Glass 3)
  • NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor with 2GB of RAM (64-bit)
  • 16/32GB storage configurations
  • Android 5.0 Lollipop (first device with Android 5.0)
  • 8 Megapixel Rear and 1.6 MP front camera
  • Brushed Aluminum frame, soft touch matte design
  • Dual HTC Boomsound front facing speakers
  • 6,700 mAh battery
  • White, Black, and Sand color options
  • 228.25mm x 153.68mm x 7.95mm and 425 grams

Galaxy Tab S (10.5-inch) Specs

  • 10.5-inch 2560 x 1600 HD Super AMOLED Display
  • Samsung Exynos 8-core processor 1.9 GHz with 3GB of RAM
  • 16GB storage and micro-SD support
  • Android 4.4.2 KitKat (Android 5.0 Lollipop eventually)
  • 8 Megapixel rear and 2.1 front cameras
  • Textured plastic design with aluminum metal frame
  • Dual side facing speakers, not front facing
  • Fingerprint scanner and IR remote control port
  • 7900 mAh battery
  • Black or White (Gold trim)
  • 247.3 x 177.3 x 6.6 mm and 467 grams

The Galaxy Tab S does offer things like a bigger battery, fingerprint scanner for security, and even an IR port to use it as a remote control, so it certainly delivers a few things the Nexus 9 can’t. Again, it’s hard to know what each buyer needs or wants, so check out the list above for what you’re interested in.

It’s worth noting that these are similar in size, but the Tab S is longer, skinnier, and not as thick.

Final Thoughts

Overall these are two extremely impressive tablets that will both give the iPad Air (and Air 2) a run for its money. The Tab S is arguably the most premium Android tablet to date, but that could change once we get our hands on the beautiful and impressive looking Nexus 9.

Google’s brand new Nexus 9 is a stunning tablet. Its design is extremely impressive and has tons of top tier specs and features users want like front facing speakers, and runs the brand new Android 5.0 Lollipop Android release.

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 9.28.18 AM

The Nexus 9 is set to be Google’s best tablet to date, and may end up being one of the best tablets of 2014. It has a lot to offer, and should be in the running for any tablet buyer this holiday season.

Samsung’s Tab S is a brilliant tablet with a display that no one will argue with, the prices are dropping, and surely some Black Friday deals are coming. This is a tough choice, but there’s also the software to consider. Samsung covers Android up with their own TouchWiz, which we aren’t a fan of, and the Nexus 9 runs the latest and greatest Android 5.0 Lollipop. Again, we don’t know what all users want, but the information above should help you make a better choice moving forward.