Samsung T9 portable SSD offers big, fast storage in a tiny package [Review]


Samsung T9 portable SSD review★★★★
The Samsung T9 puts terabytes of storage in your pocket.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The Samsung T9 solid-state drive is small enough and tough enough to go almost anywhere. And it’s available in capacities up to 4 terabytes.

I put the recently launched SSD to the test with a range of Apple devices and came away pleased with the design and performance. That said, Mac users can’t take advantage of one of its best features.

This post contains affiliate links. Cult of Mac may earn a commission when you use our links to buy items.

Samsung T9 portable SSD review

The benefits of building terabytes of storage into your Mac or iPad are obvious, but don’t overlook the downsides. Most notably, Apple charges an arm and a leg for additional capacity. Configuring a MacBook Air with an additional 256GB costs a whopping $200, for instance.

An external SSD like the Samsung T9 isn’t quite as convenient, but it’s a lot more affordable.

Plus, you can use it with multiple computers. And not just ones you own now. If you switch to a newer Mac in a couple of years, the portable SSD you buy now is still useful.

SSD designed for portability

Samsung T9 with Samsung T7
A rubber coating makes the Samsung T9 (left) slightly larger than the Samsung T7 (right).
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

The days when external drives were big, bulky objects are long over. The Samsung T9 is pocket size, even though it can hold up to 4TB. To get specific, it’s 3.5 inches by 2.4 inches by 0.6 inches (88mm x 60mm x 14mm).

That’s slightly larger than the original T7. But what Samsung did with the T9 is take the previous aluminum chassis and add a layer of rubber. The result is that the accessory can survive drops up to 9.8 feet (3 meters), according to its maker. I’m not going to test it to the breaking point, but I dropped the SSD several times from waist height and it’s working fine and shows no visible damage.

Also, the new rubber exterior is much less slick than aluminum. That makes it easier to grip, and less likely to slide off your desk. That’s a welcome benefit for a marginal increase in bulk, especially when the portable SSD is still pocketable.

As for the look, Samsung says, “The curved diagonal lines and reverse carbon patterns on the surface of T9 give the device a fabric-like feel like a luxurious wallet.” Whatever. I wouldn’t even have noticed the patterns or textures if they hadn’t been pointed out. To me, the texture is all about grippiness. It tends to pick up lint, though.

USB-C for maximum compatibility

Samsung T9 portable SSD USB-C port
A single USB-C port handles both power and high-speed data for the Samsung T9.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

On one end of the Samsung T9 is a USB-C port. Connect a cable here to whatever computer you want. And Samsung thoughtfully bundles its new drive with two cables: one to plug into computers with USB-C ports and the other for computers with USB-A ports.

I tested the T9 with a range of devices and they all had no problems accessing the contents of the drive. Whether an iPad, a Windows PC, an iPhone 15 or even a Roku, all successfully connected.

Just be aware that you’ll need to carry a cable with you to use the SSD. It’s not a thumbdrive you can plug directly into your Mac. That adds to the bulk, though always having a USB-C cable with you just for charging up your devices is a good idea.

But it can’t be some cheap cable. Not if you want top performance. Many USB-C cables are designed to transfer power with data a secondary consideration, and it shows. But the cables Samsung includes with a portable SSD are fully capable of handling top-speed connections.

SSD with very good performance

The Samsung T9 supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 over its USB-C port. Using this standard, it offers speeds of up to 10 Gb/s. But that’s just what the maker claims.

My benchmarking app indicates data is flowing at around 108 MB/s or 0.8 Gb/s. Naturally, I also ran some real-world performance tests. Copying a 1 GB file from my computer to the drive and vice versa took 2 seconds. That went so quickly I upped the file size to 10.7 GB. That transfer took 13 seconds.

These are approximately the same results I get for other USB 3.2 Gen 2 drives. And they are plenty fast enough for most consumers and even many professionals. The exception is anyone regularly moving around terabytes of data. They might be better off with an even faster Thunderbolt-compatible drive.

Those who are reading or writing huge files or collections of them will notice that the drive gets warm. That’s an unavoidable aspect of portable SSDs. But Samsung promises that the casing temperature doesn’t get above 140 degrees. I transferred 150 GB of files as a test and the drive wasn’t hot afterward. Plus, the rubber coating is intended to keep the product from being too uncomfortable to hold.

Bad new for Mac users

The drive also supports USB 3.2 Gen 2×2, which means it can transfer data at up to 20 Gb/s . However, Macs do not currently support USB 3.2 Gen 2×2. Apple’s focus is more on Thunderbolt, which is up to twice as fast.

Still, one of the advantages of an external SSD is you don’t have to use it with only one computer. If there’s a Windows PC in your life, it might support USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 for ultra-fast data transfers.

But you’re not getting 40 Gb/s transfers out of the T9, or even 20 Gb/s of you’re an Apple user.

Samsung T9 portable SSD final thoughts

Samsung T9 portable SSD
The Samsung T9 SSD is small but holds terabytes of data.
Photo: Samsung

I love iCloud and streaming video as much anyone, but a recent holiday to a remote lake cabin was a reminder of the benefits of local storage. With slow and spotty internet access , I depended on a movie collection I keep on an external SSD to keep myself entertained. The Samsung T9 is ideal for that.


The only downside is that the drive went with USB 3.2 Gen 2×2 for its speed boost rather than Thunderbolt, so it’s not faster than the T7 for Apple users. It’s nevertheless very fast.


Pricing for Samsung’s latest portable solid-state drive starts at $140 and goes up to $440, depending on the capacity.

Buy it from: Samsung

Buy it from: Amazon

Mac users looking for a more affordable option might consider the Kingston XS1000 External SSD. It’s 1TB version lists for $64.99 while the 2TB version goes for $109.99.

Or the Samsung T7 is still available, and is just as speedy as the newer model for Mac users.

Samsung provided Cult of Mac with a review unit for this article. See our reviews policy, and check out more in-depth reviews of Apple-related items.


Daily round-ups or a weekly refresher, straight from Cult of Mac to your inbox.

  • The Weekender

    The week's best Apple news, reviews and how-tos from Cult of Mac, every Saturday morning. Our readers say: "Thank you guys for always posting cool stuff" -- Vaughn Nevins. "Very informative" -- Kenly Xavier.