It’s no secret that Samsung’s mobile business is struggling. Although they are still on the top list, the company is experiencing a huge decline in smartphone sales due to the emerging Chinese brands that are offering value-oriented devices in the market.
This is why the company is trying to turn things around by introducing new and imaginative products. For one, there’s the device that we have here, the Samsung Galaxy A9 2018.
The South Korean tech giant rigged this thing with not two, not three, but four cameras on the back. Making it the first smartphone to have one, plus other premium specs to go along with it.
Here in our Samsung Galaxy A9 2018 review, we’ll see if devices like this can really save the company from drowning.
Samsung Galaxy A9 2018 Specs
- Android 8.0 Oreo
- Dual SIM, Dual Standby
- 6.3-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED screen, 2220 x 1080 pixel resolution, ~391ppi
- 2.2GHz octa-core processor
- 6GB RAM
- 128GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 512GB
- 24-megapixel front camera, f/2.0
- 24-megapixel (f/1.7) + 10-megapixel (f/2.4, 2x optical zoom) + 8-megapixel (f/2.4, 120° wide-angle) + 5-megapixel (f/2.2) quad rear cameras, LED flash
- Fingerprint scanner, Face unlock
- HSPA+, 4G LTE
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, MIMO
- Bluetooth 5.0
- GPS, Galileo, GLONASS, BeiDou
- USB Type-C
- Dimensions: 162.5 x 77 x 7.8mm
- Weight: 183g
- Colors: Lemonade Blue, Caviar Black, Bubblegum Pink
- 3,800mAh non-removable battery, fast-charging
A device as premium as the Samsung Galaxy A9 2018 does come with the usual top-tier features. One of them is the design.
You can already tell that it’s a Samsung smartphone the first time you hold it. Almost all of Samsung’s high-end smartphone has this distinct feel to it. This is probably the combination of the premium glass back, ultra-thin profile, and a really solid build.
However, much like most premium Galaxy S9 series and the Note 9, the Galaxy A9 2018 is really slippery. As stated earlier, this handset is really slim and is made of glass, making it really fragile to hold. If you have butterfingers, I suggest you slap a case on this thing, to both protect the device and improve the ergonomics.
But other than that, Samsung clearly nailed the design and build on the Samsung Galaxy A9 2018.
I want to also praise Samsung for not giving in on the display notch craze. Well, at least not on this device. I would rather have a slightly bigger bezel on the top and the bottom, than having a notch distracting me from watching videos.
Speaking of which, the Samsung Galaxy A9 2018 brags a gigantic 6.3-inc FHD+ display, with Samsung’s well-known Super AMOLED panel. On the downside, it doesn’t have an in-display fingerprint scanner, like what most OLED devices have.
Samsung makes the best screens in the market and it clearly shows on this phone. It offers well-saturated colors, which is even more amped up by its impressive contrast. However, the video viewing experience is being ruined by the poor-sounding bottom-firing speaker.
The Samsung Galaxy A9 2018 ships with Android 8 Oreo with Samsung Experience UI. The company’s own interface looks clean and straightforward. Other than some minor personal touches on the design, its UI is actually close to stock Android, so that’s a plus.
Oh, and we still have Bixby in here, with its own dedicated button on the left side. It’s still not the best assistant out there, so don’t even bother setting it up.
Now, let’s talk about its biggest features — the quad-camera setup. The Samsung Galaxy A9 2018 sports a 24-megapixel primary camera + (f/1.7) + 10-megapixel 2x telephoto shooter (f/2.4) + an 8-megapixel 120-degree wide-angle (f/2.4), and 5-megapixel depth-sensor.
I surely appreciate what Samsung is trying to do. The quad-camera setup tries to provide flexibility when taking pictures. However, despite having more camera than the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, it surprisingly delivers disappointing performance. Here’s why.
The problem lies in the actual quality. It looks like the Samsung Galaxy A9 2018 is having problems setting the White Balance white. Which is why, at certain occasions, images would have a magenta tint, or off colors.
Samsung did provide a software update to fix it, although there are times where the problems persist.
In addition, the underwhelming 10-megapixel sensor makes telephoto images too grainy. On the upside, the wide-angle lens really provides a distinctive look and allows you to cover more subjects in a single frame.
Lastly, we have the 5-megapixel depth sensor. Considering that it already has three sensors, I think that the addition of this camera was only meant for marketing purposes. Although it did a good job of creating images with a synthetic shallow depth-of-field, I think that the other sensors could have done the same job.
We also have the 24-megapixel front-facing camera. It can take well-detailed and well-lit images. But just like most selfie snappers, it does suffer from the lack of juicy colors.
Of course, it also features AI face beauty that does a great job without making your face look cartoon-ish. You can manually adjust the effects by tinkering the available options.
Speaking of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Samsung Galaxy A9 2018 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 octa-core processor, with a spacious 6GB of RAM, 128GB of expandable storage, and an Adreno 512 GPU.
The chipset of choice is clearly underwhelming as there are already devices with the same price (or even cheaper) that already boasts the flagship Snapdragon 845 processor. For one, there’s the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro, or the crowd-favorite Pocophone F1.
On the upside, it did deliver good performance. The 6GB RAM really gives you the ability to open tons of apps and switch between them without causing anything to reload. Plus, apps load fast and browsing through different social media feeds is flawless.
The gaming experience is pretty expected. The graphics are set to medium, making the details look a little fuzzy. However, frame rates are pretty decent. We’ve tested PUBG Mobile and NBA 2K19, and they all run fine, although we’ve surely had better gaming experience in other devices.
If you’re planning on gaming for hours, well, you’d be pleased with the battery performance of the Samsung Galaxy A9 2018. It doesn’t have the best longevity around, but it’s definitely up there.
The 3,800mAh battery provides an entire hour of charge with light to moderate usage, with a screen-on time of almost 5 hours. PCMark’s battery stress test also garnered a score of 9 hours and 26 minutes. That’s above the average score of 8 hours that we’re getting on most devices that we have reviewed before.
Bottom line, the Samsung Galaxy A9 2019 is a great smartphone. It has a premium and sleek design that speaks for the price, the telephoto and wide-angle lens really provide flexibility when taking pictures, and the battery life is just astonishing.
However, it’s still a bit pricey for the hardware it offers. The performance might be capable, but the fact that it only comes with a Snapdragon 660 processor is still disappointing. It’s primary camera is really funky at times, even though it’s supposed to be good because of its 4 sensors.
For the meantime, if you’re shopping on a smartphone at this price category, you’re better looking somewhere else. You can check out devices like the Xiaomi Mi 8 Pro, Mi Mix 3, and the OnePlus 6T — all of which have similar premium design and similar price tag, but with a proper flagship processor.
Speaking of the price, the Samsung Galaxy A9 2019 is available nationwide for a price of Php32,990.
- Premium design
- Telephoto and wide-angle cameras provide flexibility
- Capable performance
- Great battery life
- Poor primary camera performance
- Pricey for the features it offers