The Samsung T9 Portable SSD, announced on October 3, is easily the best USB external storage the electronics giant has had. It represents the latest in the company's popular Portable SSD series and is the first that features USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps).
And the core, though, the new device is similar to the previous version, the T7 Shield or any previous Samsung Portable SSD. While its slightly different, more "luxurious" design makes little difference -- it's also a dirt magnet -- its added performance is a welcome change for those with a computer that supports the fast USB standard.
On the downside, the new portable SSD is expensive, costing over 40% more than the previous model.
Here's the bottom line: If you are a fan of Samsung, the T9 is the best USB portable SSD to date. On the other hand, if you have no brand preference, the Crucial X10 Pro will give you a similar, if not better, experience at a significantly lower cost.
Dong's note: I first published this post on October 3, 2023, when the T9 was announced as a preview. I updated it on October 18 to a review after in-depth hands-on testing.
Samsung T9 Portable SSD: The fastest Samsung USB drive to date
The Samsung T9 joins a small group of portable SSDs on the market that features the USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 standard, capable of up to 20Gbps in bandwidth. Technically, that's double the ceiling speed of any USB Gen 2 drive, such as the T7. In reality, the new drive will be significantly faster when used with an appropriate USB port, but it won't be twice as fast as you will note in the performance section below.
The naming of the USB generations has been confusing, and "USB 3.2 Gen 2x2," which is a terrible name, is the latest variant of the third USB generation before USB4. While the faster speed ceiling doesn't hurt, this standard is not as widely supported as the older USB 3.2 Gen 2 (10Gbps) variant.
To help with added performance, Samsung says the T9 features Dynamic Thermal Guard, which efficiently minimizes performance reduction during extended workloads. Additionally, the T9 optimizes its power consumption between idle and active states to conserve the host device's battery. And in my trial, the drive remained cool, even during heavy loads.
New and “luxurious” design
While sharing the same physical size as the T7, the T9 comes with a new coating for its aluminum body that supposedly gives it a "luxurious" feel, like an expensive wallet.
In my trial, the new drive did feel nice in the hand, allowing for a good grip, but its body attracted dirt too easily.
As a matter of fact, out of the retail box, it was covered in a layer of soft powder, likely the lint and fine particles produced by packaging materials during transit. And the moment I held it, my finger immediately put some stains on it. I wiped it with a soft, wet cloth. Alas! It looked even worse, as you will notice in the photos. In short, it's virtually impossible to keep the drive clean for longer than a few minutes in daily usage -- there are always lots of little things stuck to it.
The new portable SSD does feel solid and rugged. I tossed it around a few times, and it survived without issues. It's unclear if it's water-proof, but it does seem water-resistant.
Samsung T9 vs Crucial X10 Pro: Hardware specifications
|Full Name||Samsung T9 Portable SSD||Crucial X10 Pro Portable SSD|
|Capacity||1TB, 2TB, 4TB||1TB, 2TB, 4TB|
|Interface||USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps)|
Backward compatible through USB 2.0
|USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 (20Gbps)|
Backward compatible through USB 2.0
|Dimensions||3.46 x 2.36 x .55 in|
(87.8 x 59.9 x 13.9 mm)
|2.56 x 1.97 x 0.39 in|
(65 x 50 x 9.91 mm)
|Weight||4.3 ounces (122 grams)||1.48 oz (42 grams)|
|Transfer Speed||Up to 2,000 MB/s||Up to 2,000 MB/s|
|Encryption||AES 256-bit hardware |
|AES 256-bit hardware |
|Software||Password Protection Software|
(Windows, Mac, Android),
Samsung Magician Software 8.0
(Windows and Mac)
|Supported Platform||Windows, Mac, Android||Windows, Mac, Android|
(from up to 9 feet)
|Included Cables||USB-C cable, |
|$110.99 (1TB) |
|Warranty||5 years||5 years|
A familiar Samsung Portable SSD
Aside from the new design and faster USB speed, the new Samsung T9 remains a familiar portable SSD. In fact, it's the same as the T7 Shield in terms of features.
The portable SSD has a USB-C port for data and power and includes USB-C and USB-C to USB-A cables. It's compatible with Windows, Mac, and Android platforms and preformatted in the exFAT file system, it's ready to work with any host right out of the box.
I tried it on all these platforms, and it worked well with no issues as a simple external storage device. And I used it intensively with my Android phones.
Truly Plug-n-play, low power-consumption
My Pixel 7 Pro could immediately use the T9 as external storage -- it's excellent if you need to store or download a large amount of content at once.
While that's generally the case with most portable SSDs, what was impressive about the Samsung T9 was that the phone's battery life didn't suffer when hosting it. In anecdotal testing, I left it plugged in as often as possible, and the phone's battery didn't drain noticeably faster than my normal usage. It still lasted a full workday.
That said, it's safe to say that you can use the Samsung T9 with any phone for hours, enough to record long 4K videos before having to plug the phone in -- there's no way to charge when you use the drive.
That's to say, as a simple external storage device, the Samsung T9 is as good as can be. But things change when you turn on its security feature.
The troublesome Samsung Portable SSD Android app, useful Samsung Magician 8.0
The Samsung T9 is preloaded with the installer for the Samsung Portable SSD desktop app for Mac and Windows, which works as intended. It helps enable password protection for the drive. Once enabled, the software is needed for users to enter the password before they can view its content. That's standard.
I encountered no issues using this feature on my Mac or Windows computers. However, on my Android phones—I tried many phones, including a Pixel 7 Pro, a Pixel 7, a Pixel 6, and a OnePlus 11 5G—it was a dud. The Samsung Portable SSD mobile app never recognized the drive and behaved like it wasn't plugged in.
The conclusion is that if you intend to use password protection, the Samsung T9 is no longer accessible on any phone. I had this same issue with the T7 Shield over a year ago. It's surprising and disappointing that Samsung hasn't fixed it.
The new drive is accompanied by the latest Samsung Magician Software 8.0 dashboard software. This latest version is the first available for Mac in addition to Windows. This desktop application includes helpful tools for better user experience, such as performance benchmarking, security functions, firmware updates, and real-time health status checks.
Samsung T9 Portable SSD: Excellent performance
I tested and used a 4TB Samsung T9 intensively for a week and was happy with it. Apart from the Android security issue mentioned above, the drive proved fast and reliable. It also ran noticeably cool overall -- I hardly felt any heat when holding it, even during heavy operations.
In terms of performance throughputs, the drive faired similarly to other USB 3.2 Gen 2x2. It's among the fastest on the market, even when used with slower USB grades.
Compared to the Crucial X10 Pro, the Samsung T9 generally did better in writing and slightly worse in reading. But both numbers were within the margin of fluctuation -- the case of all USB storage devices.
Samsung T9's Rating
USB 3.2 Gen 2x2 support to deliver top performance; compact and rugged design
Hardware encryption with effective password protection; excellent Samsung Magician 8.0 dashboard desktop software.
USB cables included; run cool
Expensive; dirt magnet
The Samsung Portable SSD Android app doesn't work at all.
In any case, this is a safe buy for those needing a reliable, secure, and versatile external storage device to carry on the go, including in rough environments. If your computer features USB 3.2 Gen 2x2, consider getting one today! You'll love it if you're not into clean, shiny objects and have no need for the Android security mobile app.