Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) hands-on review
“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. Frankly, we can’t exactly say we are too surprised. It was more or less a matter of time. But, if we had to place some predictions, our money would have definitely been on a more obscure manufacturer finally polling out the quad camera card, rather than Samsung.
Still, it does make a lot of sense. Hot on the heels of the Galaxy A7 (2018) and its triple camera setup, the A9 (2018) now adds a telephoto camera to the mix, bringing the total tally up to that all-important four. Or at least, until HMD finally comes through with a new multi-camera PureView handset, likely to be dubbed the Nokia 9, if rumors are to be believed.
Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) specs
- Body: Glass back, metal frame; 162.5 x 77 x 7.8mm, 183g; Caviar Black, Lemonade Blue and Bubblegum Pink color schemes;
- Display: 6.3″ Super AMOLED, FullHD+ 2,220×1,080px 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 4×2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 260, Adreno 512 GPU.
- Memory: 6GB/8GB (market dependant) 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.
But, putting the number game aside, the natural question on everybody’s mind is whether all this camera hardware complexity is even necessary or particularly beneficial? After all, one of the widely-regarded top cameraphones of the day, the Google Pixel 2 puts most competitors to shame with a single main camera. And Google feels confident enough in its ongoing software-assisted camera development path to only put a single camera on the new Pixel 3 duo, as well.
Naturally, there is a valid argument to be made about a purely software approach to things, as well as an increasingly hardware-backed one. And looking at the overall smartphone scene in 2018, it’s hard to say which way the tides are blowing. Manufacturers are still experimenting with various approaches.
Since that is the case, there is really no reason to instantly fault Samsung and the Galaxy A9 (2018), purely on the grounds of camera count. Instead, it might just be a great experiment, that could shed some light on the future of mobile camera hardware. After all, the Galaxy A family has, in a way, built a solid reputation for being a “playground”, of sorts, for new Samsung features and ideas. Plus, even if a quad-camera setup turns out to be less than ideal, who better to deal with the consequences than the Korean smartphone titan. Few have the resources and capacity to experiment and gamble at quite this scale. And, without risks, there really can’t be any progress.
So, going in with an open mindset, we had the change to spend some hands-on time with the new Galaxy A9 (2018). Before we can properly put it through its paces for a full review, join us on the following pages, for some preliminary impressions and, of course, a few camera samples.