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Samsung might be the biggest smartphone manufacturer in volume, but the company has faced a tough competition from its Chinese rivals, affecting its revenue. Smartphone makers like OnePlus, Xiaomi, and Honor with their affordable yet powerful devices bring zippy performance and impressive camera quality to the table at a much lower price rate.
- Lots of camera options
- good looks
- impressive display
- Only supports Samsung Pay Mini
- Lacks HD streaming
Well, Samsung has joined the party (better late than never) with its latest Galaxy A9 (2018) that falls under a similar price tag, but there's something the new phone has that no other phone offers - it comes with a four-camera setup on the back. Samsung touts it as the world's first quad-camera smartphone. The smartphone is priced at Rs 36,990 for the 6GB variant, while the 8GB model would cost you Rs 39,990.
But does it have what it takes to beat the best in business? Let's find out in our review.
- 6.3-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display
- Snapdragon 660 Octa-core processor
- 6/8GB RAM
- 128GB storage (expandable up to 512GB)
- Android 8.0 Oreo
- 24MP(f/1.7 aperture) Primary sensor;
- 10MP ( f/2.4 aperture )telephoto sensor;
- 8MP(f/2.4 aperture and 120 degrees ) ultra-wide sensor;
- 5MP (f/2.2 aperture) depth sensor
- 24MP selfie camera
- 3800mAh battery
Design and Display
The smartphone is build of glass & metal and comes in slim form factor making it easy to hold with one hand. But we would still put the device in the wide and tall category. It has three color variants - Classic Black, Bubblegum Pink, and Lemonade Blue. Honestly, the glass body makes it look really attractive, but also attracts fingerprints and smudges. While the device is pleasing aesthetically, the build quality seems pretty basic, unlike other Samsung smartphones. You can actually hear something rattling inside if you wiggle the device with your hands.
The front panel has a 6.3-inch display, an ambient light sensor, a selfie camera, and an earpiece. On the right side, there is the power key and the volume rockers, while the left holds a dedicated Bixby button (which the company still doesn't allow for launching other apps). At the bottom, you'll find the 3.5mm audio jack, Type-C charging port, microphone, and speaker grille. And the top side has the secondary microphone and the SIM card slot.
The rear panel houses the four cameras along with an LED flash. The camera setup is accompanied by a fingerprint sensor, which we checked is pretty fast.
Speaking of the display, the smartphone comes with a 6.3-inch Super AMOLED Infinity display with a resolution of 1080 x 2220 pixels and 392 PPI. The display is beautiful and the color looks vivid and vibrant. The display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass and also has Always-On functionality allowing users to check time and notification without having to wake up the device.
Although the pixel density of the Galaxy A9 is less than its less costly Galaxy A7 (411ppi), it still makes for a great viewing experience. It has an aspect ratio of 18.5:9 ratio which is ideal for multimedia consumption. Unfortunately, the device lacks support for HD streaming or the Widewine L1 certification that allows for HD playback from all the video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, among others.
The new smartphone runs company's Experience 9 UI wrapped around Android 8 Oreo. This is somewhat disappointing given the fact Android 9 Pie has started rolling out for several devices.
Although Android 8 Oero isn't a bad choice, if the company is going head-to-head with other players in this segment, then Android 9 Pie would have been a great option. The software comes with a few bloatware apps, which takes away the native Android experience. Samsung might roll out the Android Pie update for the new phone, but making it available out-of-the-box would have been a different experience altogether.
The four camera setup of the Galaxy A9 is without a doubt the biggest highlight of the smartphone. The array of cameras includes a primary 24 MP with f/1.7 aperture and PDAF, an 8MP ultra-wide lens with f/2.4 aperture, a 10MP telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom, and a 5MP with f/2.2 aperture.
The 24MP lens leverages the SuperPixel technology merging 4 pixels into one resulting in a clear picture. The 8MP sensor, on the other hand, lets you take ultra wide shots at 120-degree angles compared to the normal 78-degree angles seen on other smartphones. This sensor also works while taking videos. The 5MP sensor does what a DSLR camera does, but with the help of a software. It gives you the bokeh effect by blurring the background of the subject.
Speaking of the image quality, the camera qualifies as decent but not out worldly as it looks on the brochure. The images taken in good lighting conditions came out really good with an ample amount of detail and no signs of noise. The pictures offered good dynamic range and sharpness.
The wide angle shots, however, look a bit grainy while the ones taken with the telephoto lens are quite good. For low light photography, the Galaxy A9 wouldn't be a good option. The images lack details and sharpness which is a bit of a setback.
Overall, the quad camera sure offers a lot of options to play around with, but the software could have been more optimized. The camera also needs some tweaks in the low-light photography department as well.
For selfies, Samsung has added a 24MP shooter which also has support for AR Emoji and wide selfie mode. It captures good images with a good amount of details making it a good alternative for selfie enthusiasts.
The Samsung Galaxy A9 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 processor with 6/8GB of RAM. Well, the device is a good performer when it comes to day-to-day tasks. We barely noticed the phone getting sluggish or stuttering while navigating through the menu, playing games, or switching between the apps. The launch time for the apps was swift and multitasking worked like a charm.
The big screen is good for multimedia consumption and playing your favorite games. The audio output is pretty clear and makes up for a good listening experience. Although they lack stereo sound but are still good enough for playing your tunes.
The Galaxy A9 (2018) also supports Samsung pay that lets you make payments without reaching out for your wallets. But Samsung has only provided the mini version of the service, which means you won't be able to use your phones at PoS terminals.
As for the battery performance, the smartphone is juiced by a 3800mAh battery which claims to offer a full day of heavy usage. And, it's true. We were able to perform to use the phone for a whole day without reaching out for the charger. Our usage included playing a few high-end games, listening to music, browsing the internet. The overall battery performance is great which is complemented by the company's fast charging tech.
Samsung has definitely made a mark by bringing the first quad camera phone to the table and coming with more aggressive strategies to get its throne back from other Chinese brands. If the company has planned on making the Galaxy A series more powerful, we can expect the S series to be something extraordinary.
That being said, we still feel that the company could have done a little extra apart from putting four camera sensors. They might have all the top-notch camera features but might not be the most desired camera phone for the users. But, the device is strong on the performance front and is aesthetically pleasing.
It all boils down to the pricing of the device. We would have looked beyond the flaws of the phone if the company priced it somewhere below 30,000. That would have made for a great value for money and gave other phones in the segment a run for their money. But, it seems like a missed opportunity as the device was launched to lock horns with the OnePlus 6T, but doesn't seem to be happening in Samsung's favour. If you are someone looking for a decent all-rounder from Samsung, the Galaxy A9 is a safe bet, but if you are open to other option, there are a lot of choices that could prove better.