At the start of 2018, when Huawei announced the P20 Pro – the world’s first phone with three cameras on the rear – everyone stood up and took notice. But who’d have imagined in their wildest dreams that four cameras on a smartphone would actually become a reality in the same year? I definitely didn’t.
Welcome the Samsung Galaxy A9, the world’s first smartphone with four cameras on the rear.
But here’s the thing, the P20 Pro was an unabashedly premium phone with flagship specs. The Samsung Galaxy A9 is not. In contradiction, the chaebol has decided to innovate in the mid-range segment making breakthrough tech accessible to more folks.
I spent some time with the uniquely positioned Samsung Galaxy A9, at the India launch event, and came away mostly impressed.
Samsung Galaxy A9: four cameras equals four times the fun?
I am sure the question on everyone’s minds is – why do you need four cameras on a smartphone? Well, four cameras mean more variety in shooting pictures, especially on the A9 which has different uses for each camera. The primary 24MP shooter has an attached f/1.7 lens and comes with PDAF. Then you get a 10MP telephoto camera, which can do 2X optical zoom and has an attached F/2.4 aperture lens. The third camera is an interesting one. This 8MP shooter can capture 120-degree wide-angle shots. The final 5MP sensor is used for depth sensing capabilities and creamy bokeh shots.
I captured a shot with each of these cameras. You can take a look at the samples below. It is too soon to judge the quality but you can clearly see that the A9 can do a decent job in most scenarios. I am a fan of the wide-angle lens despite the heavy barrel distortion around the edges, which was expected. You get a unique perspective of the same scenario and it can also be set up for some really edgy shots.
The camera app has been laid out well by the engineers at Samsung. You can switch between the telephoto, normal, and wide-angle cameras with ease. And the depth-sensing camera comes into effect in the Live Focus mode. I like the Live Focus implementation because it lets you control the amount of background blur. That’s not it though, Samsung has also imported the Scene Optimiser and Flaw Detection modes from the more expensive Galaxy Note series. Essentially, Scene Optimiser is Samsung’s very own scene mode with some intelligent shooting mechanisms. On the other hand, Flaw Detection is this cool feature which does this very cool thing where the Galaxy A9 tells you if someone has blinked.
Wait for my full review to find out how the Samsung Galaxy A9 performs in our rigorous tests and in daily usage.
Samsung Galaxy A9: conservative design, mid-range specs
While the cameras are the Galaxy A9’s headliners, the phone’s design tries to distinguish itself from the rest with a gradient design and unique colours. While our Lemonade Blue colour looks good, the Bubblegum Pink was the eye-catcher really. But colours are subjective, and Samsung has one for everyone.
The phone has a glass sandwich design with a metal railing, a trend that has been pretty popular this year. Also, the phone is fairly big with its 6.3-inch display and weighs 183g. The display is a Super-AMOLED FHD+ panel, which looks as impressive as most Samsung panels. But I need to spend more time with it to make up my mind. For now, it is a good panel.
As for the Snapdragon 660 SoC inside the phone, that’s definitely the biggest compromise on the Galaxy A9. That said, the phone comes with at least 6 gigs of RAM and goes up to 8GB. You also get an ample internal storage of 128GB, with the support for a microSD card as well. So, there’s definitely no compromise in the RAM and ROM inside the phone. There’s a fairly beefy 3800mAh battery inside the phone with USB Type-C fast charging as well. Unfortunately, no wireless charging here.
On the software side of things, the phone runs on Android 8.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience UI.
Closing thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy A9
The Samsung Galaxy A9 might seem excessive with four cameras, but I do see the appeal here. At around Rs 37,000 starting, the phone feels like a pricey proposition when you look at just the SD660 SoC.
But that’s the only compromise as such, the rest of the phone is a solid package on paper and my first impressions are mostly positive. Do stay tuned to Mr. Phone for the full review.