Samsung Galaxy A9 review (hands-on): Looking into Samsung’s ambitious camera quartet

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With the Samsung Galaxy A9, the time of the dual-camera smartphone is over. Do we leave the phone industry to its fate? Do we let them stand alone?

For the record, that’s the only Lord of the Rings reference made in this review.

Lately, smartphone companies seem dedicated to stuffing as many cameras on their handsets as physically possible. Now, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Remember the Huawei P20 Pro from earlier this year? Its tri-camera setup is undoubtedly a thing of beauty, and it was because of these cameras that the P20 Pro has made it onto our list.

Here to claim its place next to (or maybe above?) the P20 Pro in smartphone history comes the Samsung Galaxy A9, with not one, not two, not three, but four rear-facing cameras. The fact that Samsung squeezed that many cameras on the back of a mid-range smartphone is impressive, even if the set-up is a little goofy looking. But the question, that I’m sure all of us have, still remains: Is it really necessary?

Samsung Galaxy A9 review: Key specifications

  • 6.3in 2,220 x 1,080 Super AMOLED screen

  • Octa-core 2.2GHz processor

  • 6GB RAM

  • 24-megapixel f/1.7, 10-megapixel f/2.4 (2X telephoto), 8-megapixel f/2.4 (wide-angle), 5-megapixel f/2.2 (depth)

  • 128GB of storage, expandable up to 512GB via microSD

  • Android 8.0 Oreo

  • 3,800mAh battery

  • 163 x 77 x 8 mm

  • 183g

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Samsung Galaxy A9 review: Design, key features and first impressions

I won’t deny that the Samsung Galaxy A9 is a nice looking phone. Samsung has really spoiled us with a  6.3in FHD+ Super AMOLED screen and, for those who aren’t a fan of notches, you’ll be pleased by Samsung’s decision to stick with the bezels at the top and bottom.

The Galaxy A9 will be available in three colours: Bubblegum Pink, Lemonade Blue, and Caviar Black. Because as we all know, nothing goes better together than candy, soda, and fish eggs. But let’s not get hung up on the colour names, even though I’m definitely hung up on the colour names. We haven’t even got to what’s inside the phone yet – and that’s what’s really important.

While Samsung hasn’t announced exactly what processor is being used in the phone, we know it’ll be powered by a 2.2GHz octa-core chipset of some kind. Other than that, the Galaxy A9 will have 6GB of RAM, and a meaty 128GB of storage.

At 3,800mAh, the battery isn’t quite as good as Huawei’s, but don’t let that discourage you as you should get more than enough use out of this phone on a single charge – and this one doesn’t explode (sorry, not sorry). Old news, I know. But I’m not quite ready to let it go yet.

Other than that, the A9’s design is pretty typical. There’s a USB Type-C charging port on the bottom next to a single speaker, and a nano SIM and microSD slot reside on the side, allowing for an additional 512GB of storage.

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Now that all that  technical stuff out of the way, let’s talk about the reason you clicked this article. The Galaxy A9 has four cameras.

Samsung Galaxy A9 review: The four cameras

For those of you who somehow haven’t seen the phone yet, scroll up –  there’s a picture at the top of the article.

On the back of the phone, tucked into the top left corner, are a quartet of cameras in a vertical line. At the top is an ultra-wide 8-megapixel camera with an f/2.4 aperture. This camera can, supposedly, capture 120-degrees in a single frame, which is definitely an improvement over Samsung’s previous wide-angles.

The second camera is a 10-megapixel, f/2,4 telephoto lens  that’s nearly identical to the secondary camera on the Galaxy Note 9. Its contribution to the group is 2X optical zoom which is, again, exactly the same as the Note 9.

Below that is the main camera. A 24-megapixel, f/1.7 unit, it’s pretty much the same as every other smartphone camera on the market, and isn’t all that groundbreaking.

And, rounding off this ridiculous array, is a brand-new 5-megapixel, f/2.2 “live focus” depth camera. This unit is pretty nifty, making it easy to add bokeh effects to your shots and focus on your subject while blurring the background out.

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All in all, Samsung hasn’t brought anything all that new to the table, except for slapping an extra, headline-grabbing, camera to its body. That doesn’t mean the A9 won’t be a solid phone, though. The cameras aren’t groundbreaking, but there are four of them, so the A9 will undoubtedly be an effective photographer’s tool when it comes out in November.

As far as price goes, the A9 will go for £549- certainly not as expensive as some other phones launched this year, but not exactly budget, either. Still, if its predecessors signify anything, it’s a reasonable price for the quality you’re getting.

Samsung Galaxy A9 review: Early verdict

Samsung’s Galaxy A9 is certainly a fine phone, and I have no doubt that it will be a fan-favorite when it comes out in a few weeks. But I’m not exactly convinced that we need this many cameras on a phone, especially when none of them bringing anything radically new to the competition. 

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