Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE Review

Introduction and Design

Although AT&T’s 4G LTE network is still available in limited capacity across the country, we’ve already seen a handful of devices taking advantage of its speediness – like the HTC Jetstream, Vivid, and Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. Well, Samsung is at it yet again by brining 4G goodness to the tablet form factor in the Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 LTE.


Collectively, this LTE enabled version of the Galaxy Tab 8.9 retains all of the lovable design qualities of the original model, while maintaining its sleek profile, lightweight feel, and solid construction. What’s there not to like?

Featuring the same 8.9” PLS LCD display as before, it’s clearly a high-quality panel with its strong luminance, wide viewing angles, and natural looking colors. Meanwhile, its 1280 x  800 resolution is unchanged, and it’s definitely ample enough to exhibit strong details that make fine text very legible.

Seeing that this is a cellular connected device, it packs a SIM card slot that’s tucked away on the top edge. Additionally, it features two speakers, a proprietary charging port, volume rocker, 3.5mm headset jack, power button, microphone, 2-megapixel front-facing camera, and a 3.2-megapixel rear auto-focus camera with a single LED flash.

Interface and Functionality:

Not everyone is a fan of Samsung’s TouchWiz UX, but that’s what we’re greeted with running on top of Android 3.2 Honeycomb with the tablet. Aside from the obvious depth of personalization that it offers, the Mini Apps tray provides some basic multi-tasking functions between some core apps that allow us to accomplish tasks simultaneously.

With the addition of faster data connectivity thanks to LTE, it’s further complemented with a newer 1.5GHz dual-core processor to match its speediness. Sadly though, it doesn’t provide any better performance over what we’ve seen before, since we’re still seeing some recognizable bouts of sluggishness when live wallpapers are used – though, it runs a ton faster with a static one. It’s not terrible per se, but enough to spike the experience.

Seeing that there are a variety of keyboard options available, we find all of them to be extremely usable thanks to their responsiveness and spacious layouts.


Knowing that this is a tablet we’re talking about, it actually takes some nice looking photos and 720p videos with its 3.2-megapixel auto-focus camera – just like before! Finding a neutral balance between fine details and color reproduction, it’s more than capable of delivering some quality shots. However, in low lighting situations, things are dulled down a bit due to some instances of digital noise.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE Sample Video:


Presented with both the stock Honeycomb music player and the TouchWiz one, they’re both functional in playing some tunes, but the stock one has a much more appealing presentation. Even with its two speakers, they’re good with a lot of strong tones being emitted out of them, but it sounds rather shrill and irritating at the loudest volume.

Likewise, the video watching experience is good, thanks to the combination of its smooth playback and quality PLS LCD display.

Internet and Connectivity:

Above all, its 4G LTE connectivity stands out prominently, which should naturally provide considerably faster speeds over its 3G counterparts. So you don’t have AT&T’s 4G LTE network in your part of the woods? Well, as backup, the Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 LTE offers HSPA+ connectivity to get you some decent speeds in the near term. Even though we used the tablet with HSPA+ instead, since AT&T’s LTE network is unavailable in our area, we’re pleased by the overall web browsing performance thanks to its fast page loads, responsive navigational controls, and unflinching execution with Flash content present.


In our time using the tablet, signal strength remains strong in areas of high coverage – plus, we didn’t experience any instances of it fluctuating dramatically.

Naturally, we’re curious to see what kind of battery life it’ll get while consistently surfing on AT&T’s 4G LTE network, but with HSPA+ connectivity, we’re content with the one day of normal usage we’re able to obtain.


Looking at AT&T’s selection of 4G LTE tablets, it’s obviously limited right now with only the Samsung GALAXY Tab 8.9 LTE and the HTC Jetstream. As much as we feel that its $479.99 on-contract ($629.99 outright) is still on the pricey side, since you’ll be tied down with it for 2 whole years, it’s far more tolerable than the outrageous $599.99 on-contract ($849.99) price associated with the HTC Jetstream. At the same time, this 4G LTE enabled version manages to maintain its good build quality, lightweight feel, and sleek profile.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android Version: 3.2
Kernel Version:
Build Number: HONEYCOMB.I957UCKJ7

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 LTE Video Review:


  • Maintains its overall size
  • Very lightweight
  • 4G LTE connectivity


  • Sluggish performance
  • Still expensive

PhoneArena Rating:


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