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Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018): The Good, the Bad, and the X factor
Here's how the Samsung Galaxy A9 stacks up against other smartphones.
After losing the first bout to Huawei of putting more camera sensors on their devices, Samsung came out all guns blazing and introduced a smartphone with four cameras - the Galaxy A9. Just like the company did with its triple-eyed boy Galaxy A7, Samsung launched the Galaxy A9 for an aggressive price.
The Galaxy A9, being the world's first smartphone with four cameras has a huge load of delivering the best in class mobile photography experience. The smartphone is powered by a Snapdragon 660 processor paired with 6GB/8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage with support for 512GB of external memory via a microSD card.
The smartphone is priced at Rs 36,990 for the 6GB variant and Rs 39,990 for the 8GB variant. But is the four camera setup the soul-selling point of this device? Or does it have the potential to rule the premium mid-range segment? Here's a breakdown for you:
An impressive display
The Samsung Galaxy A9 flaunts a 6.3-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 2220 pixels and 392 PPI. Although the pixel density of the Galaxy A9 is less than its less costly Galaxy A9 (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.
Besides, the True FHD+ resolution and the Widewine L1 certification allows for HD playback from all the video streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, among others. The device 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.
Gives you space
The smartphone comes with 128GB of internal storage which is somewhat sufficient for most of the users. If you are someone who likes to keep their smartphones stuffed with a lot of pictures, music, videos, movies, and other media files, then there is an option to expand the memory up to 512GB using a microSD card.
What's even better is that the device lets you install apps on the memory card. You can also move your social media content directly to the microSD card, a feature missing from a lot of phones in this range.
3.5mm still in place
As we move forward in time, the removal of the audio jack is slowly becoming a norm with major firms like Apple, OnePlus, HTC opting to produce smartphones sans the 3.5mm audio jack in favor of Lightning or Type-C ports. But, Samsung has still managed to keep the functionality intact throughout its range of smartphones.
Although Samsung also uses the Type-C port for fast charging purposes, it has never supported the removal of the audio jack in its devices, as it opens the device for a lot of third-party hands-free accessories.
Still running Android Oreo
The new Galaxy A9 still runs on the dated Android 8.0 Oreo, which is a setback given that Android 9 Pie is already out and has been available on many phones. This doesn't necessarily mean that Android Oreo is a bad choice, but if the company is following the latest industry trends for its camera sensors, it might as well consider the software front.
The software also comes with a lot of bloatware, which could hamper the performance of the phone after a few months of extensive usage. The company 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 phone has a Snapdragon 660 at its heart. It is an octa-core CPU build using the 14nm process. But, the company could have used the latest Snapdragon 670 processor, which is the successor to the SD 660 and is slightly underpowered compared to SD 710, but that could have ramped up the cost the device as well. The SD 660 is capable of handling cameras up to 24MP easily, making it borderline for the Galaxy A9 (2018).
Old school biometrics
Though Samsung has been always on top of their game when it comes to mobile security, the company is still not ready to overhaul the biometric methods. The company has used a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor for its Galaxy A9, where it could have used a trimmed down version of its in-display sensor that is reported to feature on company's next flagship - the Galaxy S10.
This would have given the company a chance to see the user feedback helping it overcome the challenges with its next phone. Smartphone makers such as Oppo, Vivo, and OnePlus have already launched their phones with the in-display sensors. The inclusion of the new tech could have made the device a great value for money.
The X factor
The biggest selling point of the Galaxy A9 that Samsung is betting on is its four camera setup. This is the first smartphone to come with four cameras. The camera setup comes with 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. The background can be blurred even after the picture is clicked. And the additional 10MP telephoto sensor with 2x lens that makes for clear pictures when zoomed in.
For selfies, Samsung has added a 24MP shooter which also has support for AR Emoji and wide selfie mode.
Other camera features include Scene Optimizer that offers the best color correction based on the detected scenes in the picture. The camera also supports the Slow motion and Hyperlapse mode which is another term for the time lapse mode.
In our short time with the device, the camera performance was good and the pictures came out really well. The pictures had an ample amount of detail with minimal noise.
Hit or a miss?
Overall the Samsung Galaxy A9 is a well-built smartphone which is complemented by a vertically aligned four-camera setup. The smartphone will give a premium look and feel to its users alongside Samsung's suite of apps.
Starting at Rs 36,990 the Galaxy A9 is an impressive device. But we feel the device is bit overpriced given the fact it's using an old processor. The only give away here is the four camera which we are yet to put through our extensive tests before passing the final judgment.
But judging by the pricing, we feel the device is a bit overpriced and the company could have cut down the price a little bit. Apart from the additional 10MP telephoto lens, Samsung justifies the price difference between the Galaxy A9 and Galaxy A7 by adding minor upgrades to the existing.