A comparative look at the Google Nexus 9 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4

Last updated: August 3, 2020.

The Google Nexus 9 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4

Samsung released the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 this year.  Featuring a high resolution Super AMOLED display, the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has become a go-to tablet for those who valued portability but are looking for a good display.  Then, in October, Google released the HTC-made Nexus 9 – one of the first tablets to utilize the new Android 5.0 Lollipop software.  The new software served as a big come-on for tablet users to try out the Nexus 7.

Samsung and Google both managed to create two devices that are solid options for a tablet user.  There are several differences between the Google Nexus 9 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 and, in this review, we’ll walk you through some of them.


Nexus 9

  • HTC has designed some beautiful and original looking tablets; unfortunately, the Google Nexus 9 is not one of them. While the design isn’t bad, it is nothing that stands out either.  It basically just looks like a giant version of the Nexus 5.
  • The back is plain aside from the Nexus logo running down the middle. It is made of a nice soft touch plastic.
  • There is a metal band that wraps around the tablet’s sides and leads into the front panel.
  • The back plate has a slight bow in the center which makes it feel like the device wasn’t put together right.
  • There have been reports that the buttons are not easy to click and in some cases kind of blend into the device edge.
  • Available in black, white and sand


Galaxy Tab S 8.4

  • The entire chassis of the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 is made of plastic. The back has a dimpled pattern similar to what was seen with the Galaxy S5.
  • The sides are a brushed metallic-like plastic.
  • The hardware of the Galaxy Tab S is sturdy and light.
  • The bezels on the Galaxy Tab S are smaller than those of the Nexus 9 which gives the device the smaller overall footprint.
  • Available in Dazzling White or Titanium Bronze

Nexus 9 vs. Galaxy Tab S 8.4

  • The Nexus 9 can be difficult to use with one hand as it is a little bit heavier and bigger than the Galaxy Tab S.
  • With a thickness of 7.8 mm, Nexus 9 is thicker then the Galaxy Tab S which is only 6.6 mm thick. With the Galaxy Tab S, Samsung has one of the thinnest tablets commercially available.
  • The Galaxy Tab S is well made and feels sturdy and light.
  • The Nexus 9 is a bit more sleek and simple but it doesn’t feel or look as well made.


  • The Google Nexus 9 has an 8.9 inch LCD display with 2048x 1536 resolution for a pixel density of 281 ppi.
  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 has an 8.4 inch Super AMOLED display with 2560 x 1600 resolution for a pixel density of 359 ppi
  • Both tablets’ displays are extremely sharp with great viewing angles

Nexus 9 vs. Galaxy Tab S 8.4

  • The difference between the two displays can be found in their aspect ratios.
  • The Nexus 9 has a 4:3 aspect ratio. This ratio isn’t a common one for tablet display screens.
  • Letter boxing tends to occur when using the Nexus 9 to watch videos and movies.
  • The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. has a 16:9 ratio.
  • While in portrait mode, this aspect ratio works well, however, on landscape mode the screen can get cramped and this can be problematic when one is using it to browse the internet.
  • The Nexus 9 has a more natural color display palette while the Galaxy Tab S offers punchier colors and deeper blacks.
  • The higher pixel density of the Galaxy Tab S results in a clearer display.


Nexus 9

  • The Google Nexus 9 has two front-facing BoomSound Speakers. These are located at the top and bottom of the front panel.


Galaxy Tab S 8.4

  • When you are holding this tablet in portrait mode, it’s two speakers sit on the top and the bottom of the device.
  • Sound is good and loud on portrait mode but, when the Galaxy Tab S is held in landscape mode, the speakers tend to get covered up and the sound becomes muffled.


Nexus 9 vs. Galaxy Tab S 8.4

  • Both speakers can put out around the same volume of sound, though the Nexus 9’s front facing speakers produce clearer sounds.


  • The Galaxy Tab S has microSD care expansion, the Nexus 9 does not.


  • The Nexus 9 uses the NVIDIA Tegra K1 processor. This is backed by 2 GB of RAM.
  • The Galaxy Tab S uses Samsung’s Exynos 5 Octacore chipset. This is backed by 3 GB of RAM.
  • The software on both tablets work extremely well.

Nexus 9 vs. Galaxy Tab S 8.4

  • If you are looking for a tablet that can be used specifically for gaming, the Nexus 9 would be your best option. The Tegra K1 ensures that gaming on the Nexus 9 is fast and smooth.
  • While gaming on the Tab S is alright as well, it feels a bit slower than the Nexus 9.



  • The camera functions of the Google Nexus 9 and the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 are not huge selling points.
  • Both the Nexus 9 and the Galaxy Tab S have rear facing cameras with 8MP sensors.
  • Picture quality in general is not that good but the Tab S does take photos that are just a little bit sharper and with more accurate colors.
  • Indoor scenarios with a lot of light produce the best photos, any other scenario tends to end up with photos that are blurry and grainy.
  • Front facing cameras don’t perform any better than the rear facing cameras.
  • The camera interface of the Nexus 9 offer a simplistic, bare-bones experience. The Tab S’s camera interface is a bit too feature-rich and can feel cluttered.


  • Nexus 9 uses a 6700 mAh battery.
  • The Galaxy Tab S 8.4 uses a 4900 mAh battery.
  • Both tablets will last around a day on a single charge with the Nexus 9 just offering a bit more screen-on time.
  • The Nexus 9 will give you around 4.5-5.5 hours of screen-on time, while the Tab S has about 4-4.5 hours.


Nexus 9

  • The Nexus 9 uses the Android 5.0 Lollipop software.
  • This software is reliable and simple and offers a good experience.
  • As the Nexus 9 is a Google device, it will be one of the first to receive updates from Android.

Galaxy Tab S 8.4

  • Uses TouchWiz which is big, bright, colourful, and busy.
  • Simplicity may not be the TouchWiz’s strongest asset but there is a reason for the “clutter” with a lot of extra features in the software. While many of these can be useful some can take up space.
  • Has a Multi-window feature that allows for multiple apps to run at once.
  • The Smart Stay feature keeps the screen on while you’re looking at it.
  • Smart Pause automatically pauses a video once you look away.
  • Software updates are not very timely in Samsung devices. Currently, the Tab S is still using Android 4.4 KitKat.

Nexus 9 vs. Galaxy Tab S 8.4

  • If you want a lot of features and good multitasking software, choose the Tab S.
  • If you would rather have a simple, elegant software experience, with the promise of quick updates, choose the Nexus 9.



  • The Nexus 9 has a starting price of $399 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only model. There are higher storage options and LTE-connected variants available and the price will rise a bit depending on what you choose.
  • The Galaxy Tab S 8.4’s starting price is$400 and it also has higher-storage variants.

The Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 offers the better multitasking software, is slightly more portable and has a solid build.  However, its software is cluttered and it has a slightly lower battery life then the Nexus 9.

The Nexus 9 offers a beautiful and simple software experience and has a larger battery and better sound with its frint-firing speakers.  However, it has slightly less quality hardware and doesn’t offer much in terms of extra software.

So that’s our comparative look into the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4. and Google Nexus 9.  Given their similarities and their differences, in the end, the decision as to which you buy depends on what you need from a tablet.

Which of these two devices do you think you would like best?


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