The intensely competitive smartphone market keeps churning out improved models with new features like cameras, processors, and software updates. Phone companies, like Apple or Samsung, look for any competitive advantage to make their models stand out for the rest of the field.
That’s great news for you, the consumer. Phones keep getting better and better, with more options, more innovation, than ever before. Samsung’s latest salvo in the smartphone war is the Galaxy A9. It’s a great phone with nifty, new features. But how does it match up to the rest? Is it the right one for you? We took a look at the Galaxy A9 to help you figure that out.
The World’s First Quad Camera Smartphone
The Galaxy A9’s most exciting new feature is the quad-camera design. That’s right, four cameras built into the smartphone to give you way more photographic flexibility. There’s a 120 degree wide-angle camera, a telephoto camera, a depth camera, and the main camera for the kinds of photos we’re used to taking.
You’re probably asking yourself, “but are the four cameras really worth it? Is this just a marketing gimmick? Let’s take a look at each one, individually, and you can make the call.
The Main Camera
The 24MP F1.7 camera is the beefiest one, and the one you’ll probably use most. It’s basically like the standard camera that you’re used to in past smartphones. What sets this camera apart from many of its competitors is the lower aperture of 1.7.
If you’re like me, and you need to look up what aperture is, here you go. Aperture measures how wide a lense will hope to let in light. The lower the aperture, the more light it lets in. This is most important when you’re taking photos in low light. At a higher aperture, photos will look dark or grainy.
The main camera compares pretty well with its competition. The higher end, and higher priced, Galaxy Note 9 has just a slightly lower aperture at 1.5, while the iPhone models are slightly higher at 1.8. Where the A9 really stands out is the definition. iPhone models and the Galaxy Note 9 both have 12MP cameras while the A9 doubles it with 24MP.
2x Telephoto Lense
The second camera is a 10MP, F2.4 telephoto lense. While many cameras rely on software to zoom in, this one focuses on a hardware solution. That means that images will turn out a bit less grainy than they might with a comparable camera with a software zoom.
You might balk at the lower MP, but the telephoto lense works together with the main camera to produce a high quality image even with the zoom. Images taken in telephoto end up at 24MP. That means that the A9 uses software to intermingle the two lenses to create a composite photo that has the definition you want with the zoom.
Ultra Wide Camera
This camera may be the most interesting feature one among the bunch, a 120 degree, wide-angle camera. A wide-angle camera allows you to capture more height and width in a single photograph. What’s neat about this is that human vision, excluding peripheral vision, is also about 120 degrees, so the camera will capture photographs that are more like what you see. If you’ve ever been frustrated that your photos are too narrow or don’t capture the scene well, this lense is just right for you.
The only downside for this lense is that it creates a slight fish-eye effect in the final product. It becomes especially pronounced near the top and bottom of the screen, where straight lines will curve up or or down dramatically. But, if that bothers you, you can always switch back to the main camera.
The Depth Camera
The depth camera isn’t really a separate camera for you to control. It’s a helper camera instead. It works with the others to provide depth data to keep your lenses focused on the action instead of the background.
Samsung calls this feature, “live focus.” It allows you to capture the subject and the background separately. If this feels like overkill, it’s not. The option gives you the opportunity to edit the foreground and the background separately after you get the shot. It’s especially cool when you’re taking a portrait or group photo. You can get a shot with a sharp background and foreground instead of one or the other, and edit each individually afterwards. That gives you the option to blur the background later to make the subject stand out.
Overall, the cameras provide some interesting options for taking photos. It’s an exciting move in smartphone technology. While other companies focus on developing software solutions to make their cameras more functional, Samsung is using hardware. The question is this: Which one will consumers prefer? Only time will tell.
It’s important to note that the Galaxy A9 is a mid-range phone in Samsung’s smartphone lineup. It will not perform or feel like their flagship phone, the Galaxy Note 9. The Galaxy A9’s Performance, battery life, and screen quality will be less than the Note’s. If you want to use the phone for intense gaming, it might not live up to your expectations. Otherwise, the A9 performs well enough for just about any regular user.
The A9 comes with some of the cool features you expect in new smartphones, though. It includes a rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, but it also has facial recognition. You can unlock the phone simply by holding it up to your face. While many phone users report that facial recognition isn’t perfect (sometimes it doesn’t recognize people with bed head), this is a fun feature to try out.
As referenced above, the Galaxy A9 is a mid-range phone in Samsung’s lineup. That means you can try out the cool quad camera design without dishing out the cash for the high- end Galaxy Note. It starts at nearly $1,000 for the basic model. The A9, however, will start for much less. As of October 11th, the price in the UK was set for £549, about $725, but Samsung hasn’t released the price for US consumers.
That might surprise you given this phone is the first one with the cool quad camera design. No one knows exactly why Samsung decided to test out this hardware-driven camera design on their mid range phone. Perhaps they wanted to try a new feature without risking affecting sales of their flagship phone. But that’s just speculation.
As you’d expect, the Galaxy A9 works with all the major U.S. carriers: Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile. It’s worth mentioning, however, that you should check out each carrier’s deals on the A9. Just like phone manufacturers, carriers want to catch you with the best deal, too.
Samsung calls their screen, “Infinity Display.” By that they mean that it cuts down on the wasted space around the edges of the phone and fills it with screen. You’ll see rounded corners and almost no bezel on the side. They still give you plenty of room to grip the phone on the top and bottom, though.
The A9 comes with a glass finish on the back in three different colors, caviar black, bubblegum pink, and the oddly named lemonade blue. The fun colors make this phone as stylish as it is innovative. However, some users report that the glass finish attracts fingerprints. You’ll need to constantly wipe down the phone to keep it pretty. Users also report that the glass finish, combined with a curvy rear, also make the phone a little slippery. You may want to consider getting a case so you don’t lose it to gravity.
The camera, of course, isn’t the only feature. Here are the specs for the Galaxy A9:
|6.40 x 3.03 x 0.31 in
|6.3” FHD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display
|1080 x 2220 pixels
|Octa Core (2.2GHz Quad + 1.8GHz Quad)
|6 GB or 8 GB
|Up to 512 GB via micro SD
|3.5mm audio jack and USB-C port
|3,800 mAh (Typical)
| – Main Camera : 24MP AF, F1.7
– Telephoto : 2X optical zoom, 10MP AF, F2.4
– Ultra Wide : 120°, 8MP, F2.4
– Depth : 5MP, F2.2
|Android 8.0 (Oreo)
The Samsung Galaxy A9 is an exciting new phone that pushes the boundaries of photography. We’ll have to see whether the hardware-driven design stands up to, or even surpasses, the software-driven innovations we see in other phones. This phone is ideal anyone who spends most of their smartphone time sharing photos on their favorite social media service. The camera options give you so much flexibility that it will certainly up your instagram game right away.