Samsung

Samsung Galaxy A9(2018). 6.3'' SUPER AMOLED Infinity Display, Andriod 8.0, QRAD REAR CAMERA (24MP+8MP+10MP+5 MP), SELFIE CAMERA 24 MP, 6GB RAM / 128 ROM, Micro SD Up To 512GB, 4G LTE, 3800 MAh.

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Key Features
  • Body: Glass back, metal frame; 162.5 x 77 x 7.8mm, 183g;

  • Display: 6.3" Super AMOLED, FullHD+ 2,220x1,080px resolution Infinity display (18.5:9 aspect ratio), 392ppi pixel density.

  • Rear camera: Primary 24MP, f/1.7 aperture; phase detection autofocus. Secondary 8MP, f/2.4 aperture, fixed focus, 12mm ultrawide. Third 10MP, f/2.4 aperture, autofocus, 2x optical zoom telephoto. Fourth 5MP, f/2.2 aperture, depth sensing only. LED flash. 2160p/30fps video recording.

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Genuine product

"The world's first quad camera smartphone". It does have a ring to it, doesn't it? Depending on how you tally up the snappers, that statement is true and unquestionably so, if you only consider the rear camera setup.

The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) is built around the Snapdragon 660 chipset. It's a solid mid-range option, which offers a potent Octa-core (4x2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 260) processor setup and an equally respectable Adreno 512 GPU and a DSP well capable of 4K video capture and overall handling each one of the four main cameras.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review

All important connectivity bases are also covered, including Dual-band Wi-Fi ac, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, for Samsung Pay, among other things and the Korean giant even threw in an FM radio. All the sensors are also accounted for, and Samsung didn't skip on Adaptive Fast Charging. It's still based around Quick Charge 2.0, but it's better than nothing for topping-off the sizeable 3,800 mAh battery pack the A9 (2018) is packing. Nearly Galaxy Note9 capacity, we might add.

Still, even in the absence of any official pricing for the Galaxy A9 (2018), as of writing this, we can't shake the feeling that a handset, unlikely to open at an MSRP below EUR 600, could have made the jump to Qualcomm's exciting new Snapdragon 710 chipset. That would have meant a more efficient 10nm process, better GPU, DSP, and a faster modem, among other things.

Still, we won't reminisce about hypothetical missed opportunities here and will instead focus on the positives. Like, the well-rounded 6GB/128GB memory setup the Galaxy A9 (2018) comes standard with. The latter is even extendible via microSD, and certain markets will get an 8GB RAM tier, as well. Although, frankly, that seems a bit excessive at this juncture in time and with this choice of chipset.

As we said earlier, technically, the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) has a total of four cameras on the back. Practically speaking, however, only three of these are directly usable, with the last 5MP, f/2.2 snapper only being used for depth information. In Samsung terms, it is a "Live Focus" helper camera.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review

The rest of the snappers are spearheaded by the main 24MP, f/1.7 unit. It's the brightest of the bunch and what you will likely end up using most of the time. Positioned on top of it is an 8MP, f/2.4, ultrawide 120-degree, fixed-focus unit. Then comes the telephoto 10MP, f/2.4 camera. It offers a 2x optical zoom factor and is closely tied to the main camera in the way of operation. What we mean by that will become a lot clearer once we take a quick tour of the camera UI and its settings. But, the gist of it comes down to some form of interpolation and cooperation between that and the main camera, which we will explore in the full review. In contrast, the ultrawide camera appears to be independent in its operation.

The camera UI is done in a very typical Samsung fashion. A lot of effort appears to have been put into organizing the plethora of options and modes as well as possible, but still, these tend to get overwhelming at times. Since we already eluded to this bit, let's start with the camera settings first and specifically resolution.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) switching between cameras - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) switching between cameras - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) switching between cameras - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review
Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) switching between cameras

The way Samsung handles selection between the three main cameras is via a toggle, with three tree icons (nice one). The icon with 3 trees means ultra wide-angle cam, 2 trees denote the regular camera, and 1 tree means the telephoto. This selector also appears to be tied to the "pinch to zoom" functionality as well, but only partially. While within the regular or telephoto modes, you can use the zoom to switch between the two. Drop below 2x, and the regular one kicks in. Above 2x, its the tele. But, do keep in mind that anything above 2x is digital zoom.

Last, but not least, here are some samples we took with the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) and its three (well, technically, four) rear cameras. Bear in mind, it's an early pre-production unit, so don't judge the image quality too harshly.

Camera samples: Normal - f/1.7, ISO 160, 1/50s - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review Camera samples: Ultra wide - f/2.4, ISO 125, 1/33s - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review Camera samples: Telephoto - f/2.4, ISO 250, 1/25s - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review
Camera samples: Normal • Ultra wide • Telephoto

The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) is one of those rare devices that has a clear angle going for it, in a sea of smartphone sameness. In its case, that's both a blessing and a curse. It's very easy to focus on the world-first camera count achievement and simply stop there, either writing off the phone as a one trick pony or basing your opinion of it solely on its camera capabilities.

But step aside from the camera topic, and the rest of the Galaxy A9 (2018) is still a capable member of the Galaxy A family. It delivers a solid overall experience, with very few cut corners or omissions.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review

That being the case, we'll explore it in more detail as a well-rounded daily driver in the full review and definitely keep close tabs on its achievements as an ambassador, of sorts, to the hardware-first approach to the future of mobile photography.

In fact, Samsung has managed to make the whole "hump" quite thin, in every direction. That also makes it look very unobtrusive. Plus, it doesn't really scrape real hard on flat surfaces. In fact, judging by the decision to place the single LED flash underneath the vertical camera array, rather than next to it, further proves the theory that Samsung's design department really decided to adopt the extra-tall aesthetic and work with it. We have to say - job well done! We imagine a whopping four cameras on the back of a phone can look quite a bit more off-putting.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review

Of course, since this is a fairly high-end device, Samsung couldn't skip on some biometric security. The rear-mounted fingerprint reader is very snappy and reliable. It is also conveniently carved out, so you won't have to feel around too much. If you have long enough fingers, that is. The placement feels just right for my huge hands, but the average user will likely prefer it a bit lower down the tall back of the Galaxy A9 (2018).

This feels like the perfect segue to the showing your around the controls and their placement. Namely, the controversial Bixby button. Yes, the Galaxy A9 (2018) definitely has one and if you love it, we have bad news for you, since, like the fingerprint reader, it sits just a bit too high on the left frame of the phone. Then again, if you're not exactly fond of Samsung's Ai, this might just be a blessing in disguise. By the way, the Bixby button can be partially turned off on the Galaxy A9 (2018). You can opt to have Bixby trigger only after holding the button for a while so that a single accidental press will do nothing. You do have to go through the lengthy Bixby setup process to get to the settings menu, though.

Key Features
  • Body: Glass back, metal frame; 162.5 x 77 x 7.8mm, 183g;

  • Display: 6.3" Super AMOLED, FullHD+ 2,220x1,080px resolution Infinity display (18.5:9 aspect ratio), 392ppi pixel density.

  • Rear camera: Primary 24MP, f/1.7 aperture; phase detection autofocus. Secondary 8MP, f/2.4 aperture, fixed focus, 12mm ultrawide. Third 10MP, f/2.4 aperture, autofocus, 2x optical zoom telephoto. Fourth 5MP, f/2.2 aperture, depth sensing only. LED flash. 2160p/30fps video recording.

  • Front camera: 24MP, f/2.0 aperture; fixed focus; 1080p/30fps video recording.

  • OS/Software: Android 8.0 Oreo; Samsung Experience 9.0 custom overlay.

  • Chipset: Snapdragon 660: octa-core 4x2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 260, Adreno 512 GPU.

  • Memory: 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage; dedicated microSD slot for expansion.

  • Battery: 3,800 mAh Li-Po (sealed); Samsung Adaptive Fast charging.

  • Connectivity: Dual SIM; LTE Cat. 9 (450Mbps download/50Mbps upload); USB 2.0 Type-C port; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/AC; GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO; NFC; Bluetooth 5.0; FM radio.

  • Misc: Rear-mounted fingerprint reader; Samsung Pay; single speaker on the bottom; 3.5mm jack
SKU
SKU (simple)
SA948MT17D36CNAFAMZ-30849093
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  1. Insurance against screen (30% of the cost) and liquid damage (40% of the cost)
  2. Service is provided by AXA Mansard Insurance
  3. Limited to repair/replacements of 1 screen AND 1 liquid damage in 365 days
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