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Samsung's Galaxy Tab S9 has a battery feature that the iPad doesn't, and I'm jealous

You can't change the laws of physics, but you can optimize around them. Here's how Samsung did it.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Person holding the Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra
June Wan/ZDNET

It's interesting to watch the two giants of the mobile tech world -- Apple and Samsung -- battle it out to create great products. It's a win-win situation for consumers. 

While there are lots of similarities between the two company's smartphones and tablets, there are also some key differences. One big difference I noticed watching the Samsung Unpacked event is the approaches the companies take to tablet thermal management.

Also: Every product announced at Samsung Unpacked

You can't change the laws of physics. The more performance you want to get out of a device, the more heat there is to deal with.

While end users only really care about cooling when their device gets uncomfortably warm -- sometimes alarmingly so -- to the touch, effective thermal management can also improve the performance and longevity of a device.

Heat is a silent killer of devices. 

Not only does it cause premature battery wear, but the constant heating and cooling cycles can cause solder joints responsible for holding components onto the mainboard to fracture. Also, when a device gets hot, one of the strategies used to cool it down is to throttle back on performance.

Also: Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra vs iPad Pro: Which flagship tablet should you buy?

And effective cooling can have a huge difference in performance. The M2 chip that Apple users in the new iPad Pro is the same chip found in the MacBook Pro, but it runs some 3% slower, a difference that comes down mostly to cooling.

Samsung is taking no chances when it comes to cooling with its new Tab S9, and has built a number of mechanisms into the tablet. Incorporated into the structure are layers of TIM -- Thermal Interface Materials -- that are used to carry the heat both up toward the display and down to the back of the case for dissipation.

Samsung Tab S9 thermal management.

Samsung Tab S9 thermal management.


But there's more. 

The Tab S9 is the first Galaxy Tab series tablet to feature vapor chamber technology to more effectively move the heat from critical components, and safely dissipate it to the outside environment.

Tab S9 is the first Galaxy Tab series tablet to feature vapor chamber technology.

Tab S9 is the first Galaxy Tab series tablet to feature vapor chamber technology.


I push my iPad Pro quite hard to run apps such as DaVinci Resolve, and while for the most part, it copes pretty well with these demands, there are times when things start to get hot and it could benefit from better cooling, allowing it to unlock even more power from that M2 chip.

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