A while back, Samsung announced two new phones that focuses on the flexibility of the cameras. Samsung announced both the Galaxy A7 (2018) and also the Galaxy A9 (2018). The Galaxy A7 (2018) that we reviewed here has a total of 3 cameras – a main camera, an ultrawide angle camera, and a depth sensor. The Galaxy A9 (2018) ups the ante by introducing a total of 4 cameras – a main camera, an ultrawide angle camera, a depth sensor, and another 2x zoom lens.

Of course, Samsung upgraded other aspects as well – like the core specs, screen size, and the battery. So let’s take a dive into the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) and see what it is all about.

ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14

Unboxing

Upon receiving the new Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) and looking at the box ourselves, we realized that the packaging design is somewhat different from the Galaxy A7 (2018) that we reviewed here. The A9’s packaging is much fancier, showing the back of the phone with a large debossed “A9”.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

At the back of the box we get more details regarding the device. A few feature highlights at the top – quad cameras, Infinity Display, and also 128GB of internal storage. Then, there is also a list of specs shown here.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Opening up the box reveals the accessories box right away. Inside this box is where we can find the included TPU case and also some documentations alongside with a SIM ejector tool.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Under the accessories box is where we find the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) wrapped in plastic. Once again, the 3 main feature highlights are shown here.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Underneath the Galaxy A9 (2018) itself is where we can find everything else – the USB-C cable, the Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging plug, and also the earphones.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

The Galaxy A9 (2018) already has a film screen protector pre-applied, by the way.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Let’s first look at what Samsung wants us to pay attention to – the back of the phone. The Galaxy A9 (2018) is one of those phones that follow the latest smartphone trends, and that is gradient colored smartphone at the back.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Samsung does it differently, though. The one we have with us for review is called the Bubblegum Pink that has a gradient that goes from a pale pink at the top to a dark pink at the bottom. There is a Lemonade Blue color option as well, which is lime at the top and dark blue at the bottom.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

The Galaxy A9 (2018) is not a small phone at all as it has a 6.3-inch screen with the iconic Samsung 18.5:9 aspect ratio Infinity Display. And the displays are not curved, hence the phone does feel a lot bigger. Since it is boxier compared to its Galaxy S-series brethren, it feels thicker as well.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

The included TPU case does offer more than sufficient amount of protection since it is really thick. It does have a dark tint on it too, as opposed to many other smartphones that come with a transparent TPU case.

It even has a film screen protector pre-applied, so it does offer complete protection out of the box when you put on the TPU case.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

The cutouts are excellent and offers a very comfortable grip on the hand. It does have the little dots that face inwards as well.

When I picked up the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018), the first thing I realized is the fingerprint scanner placement. For the Galaxy A7 (2018) which is considerably smaller, has the fingerprint scanner on the power button at the side. For a bigger smartphone like the Galaxy A9 (2018), it is not viable to place the fingerprint scanner at the side – hence Samsung opted for something conventional.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

In terms of wireless connectivity, Samsung once again went all out even for a mid-range smartphone. The Galaxy A9 (2018) supports 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi, NFC, and it also supports Samsung Pay.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Looking at the top of the Galaxy A9 (2018), we found a microphone and the card tray.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Opening up the card tray reveals that Samsung has made this tray pink as well. I honestly smile when I saw this – just because Samsung paid attention to these little details. The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) is able to take in a total of 3 cards at once – which is just excellent.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

On the right side of the phone, we find the volume rocker and also the power button.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Looking at the left side, we found the Bixby button. This is rather interesting since the Galaxy A7 (2018) does not have a dedicated Bixby button.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

At the bottom of the Galaxy A9 (2018) is where the usual 3.5mm audio jack, the USB-C charging port, a microphone, and also the speaker grill are found.

The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) comes with a beautiful 6.3-inch Super AMOLED display with Samsung’s pioneering 18.5:9 aspect ratio and has 2220×1080 pixels in resolution. Obviously, the Super AMOLED displays are as vivid and vibrant as its Galaxy S and Galaxy Note brethren too.

The display is nothing short of amazing, to say the least. Even for a mid-range smartphone, Samsung packed their best smartphone display into it. Same goes for the Galaxy A7 (2018) too, actually.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

The obvious different here – as mentioned earlier – is the lack of any edge curvatures a la its high-end cousins. It does, however, have the same rounded corners like the Galaxy A7 (2018), the Galaxy S9, and also the Galaxy Note9.

Since Samsung has avoided notched display once again for the Galaxy A9 (2018), the screen-to-body ratio is lower compared to other smartphones with notched display in the market. This ultimately goes down to personal preference.

Does the notch bother you? For me, it depends. Waterdrop notches are okay, and a slew of smartphones with circular cutouts are coming early next year.

Here’s the biggest selling point of the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018). It comes with a total of 4 cameras at the back. Yes – four of them, lined up vertically. It is definitely quite bizarre at first.

These are the cameras aligned from top to bottom of the Galaxy A9 (2018):

  • Rear-facing cameras
    • 8MP f/2.4 ulta-wide angle camera
    • 24MP f/1.8 main camera with PDAF
    • 10MP f/2.4 telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom
    • 5MP f/2.2 depth sensor
  • Selfie camera
    • 24MP f/2.0

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

With the specs out of the way, how the the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) actually perform? Let’s take a look at these sample pictures here.

You can have a look at our full gallery of pictures at our Shutterfly album here.

Rear-facing cameras

The quadruple camera setup is quite interesting to review. I took the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) to my usual places to take a few images while cycling through the cameras. These are what I obtained.

Review - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) 1
Wide angle camera.
Review - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) 2
Main camera.
Review - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) 3
2x optical zoom camera.
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Wide angle camera.
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Main camera.
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Telephoto camera.

Of course, the 4th camera is the depth sensor which assists in creating a better bokeh image. Does a fantastic job, too.

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Taken with the Live Focus (bokeh) feature.

Funny enough, Samsung has a button for you to “fix” the fish-eye distortion by the press of a button. However, that only works if you disable the camera watermark – which is understandable.

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Original wide angle picture.
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Same wide angle picture after fixing distortion.

From here, you can see that the images are looking pretty good outdoors. For the main camera, everything looks surprisingly fantastic. The white balance is good and the details are sharp as well.

Both the wide angle and telephoto cameras has a blue tint over it, hence throwing the white balance out of whack. The story changes even further when I am taking pictures using the wide indoors and in dimly-lit conditions.

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Wide angle camera.
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Main camera.
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Telephoto camera.

Immediately, you can see the quality drops quite drastically – particularly on the ultra wide-angle camera. Why? That’s because of the much smaller f/2.4 aperture and it does not have autofocus.

Another quality difference is between the main camera and the 2x zoom telephoto camera. Samsung’s algorithm is smart. If the environment is too dark for the 2x optical zoom telephoto to capture anything decent, then it will swap to the main camera with a 2x digital zoom instead. However, digital zoom obviously looks sub-par.

Telephoto optical zoom compare with main camera digital zoom
The difference is most apparent around the wood grains.

So why did Samsung automatically switch from the telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom to the main camera 2x digital zoom? That is because the 2x optical zoom camera only has f/2.4 aperture compared to the f/1.8 on the main camera. I do hope that Samsung adds a warning on the screen whenever this camera swap happens.

Even though the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) does come with a total of 4 cameras and 3 different modes, there is no way to utilize all of them in manual mode, or Pro mode as Samsung calls it.

Selfie camera

Not much of a fan of selfies here, but the 24MP selfie camera is rather okay. Nothing too fancy. It still does not have autofocus for selfie camera.

Review - Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) 13

Camera UI

Once again, the camera UI is very similar to the Galaxy A7 (2018) that we reviewed here. The only main difference here is that instead of having just two buttons for the camera modes, the Galaxy A9 (2018) has 3.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) camera UI
Comes with Scene Optimizer mode as well.

As mentioned earlier, the manual mode does not allow me to utilize the ultra wide angle camera or the 2x optical zoom camera – which is unfortunate. Perhaps a firmware update can solve this.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) camera UI
It can go to ISO 100. However, there is no shutter speed control.

In the Gallery app is where you can select the wide angle pictures to be corrected. Very simple and intuitive interface from Samsung.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) camera UI

The Samsung Experience 9.0 found on the Galaxy A9 (2018) is still the same as the Galaxy A7 (2018).

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Once again, the Galaxy A9 (2018) does not have haptic feedback system-wide so the phone will not vibrate upon screen presses. I did, however, change to Google’s Gboard keyboard and that lets me customize the keyboard vibration.

One major difference is that Samsung actually defaults a pink colored wallpaper on the Bubblegum Pink unit of the Galaxy A9 (2018) that we have here. I presume that Samsung pairs a blue colored wallpaper for the Lemonade Blue Galaxy A9 (2018) too.

If you are worried about bloatware, then this is a treat for you. Those grey colored apps are shortcuts of those apps only. They are not installed in the phone just yet. Technically, you can remove the bloatware entirely by just throwing away the shortcut. You can download them from the Google Play Store later if you need it.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) camera UI
The only extra apps that are baked into the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Samsung Max makes a return once again – which is the app that is ad-supported and helps you save on data usage. In a way, it functions like a VPN server actually. I recommend you to check out our Samsung Galaxy A7 (2018) review where we explained more about the Samsung Max.

  • 6.3-inch Super AMOLED display with 2220×1080 pixels in resolution
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 chipset
    • 4x Kryo 260 LP @ 1.8GHz + 4x Kryo 260 HP @ 2.2GHz
    • Adreno 512 GPU with 128 ALUs @ 850MHz
  • 6GB LPDDR4X RAM
  • 128GB of internal storage (expandable via microSD)
  • 3,800mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo with Samsung Experience 9.0

Samsung used the typical higher powered Snapdragon 660 instead of the AIE variant. One big difference is that the Snapdragon 660 AIE variant has a lower maximum clock speed, as seen on the ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M2). So let us take a look at the benchmarks here.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) 3DMark benchmark Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) VRMark benchmark Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) Geekbench benchmark Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) Antutu benchmark

Nothing out of the ordinary in terms of benchmarks here. For those who claims that Samsung’s firmware is full of bloatware and affects performance, then take a look at the benchmarks here instead.

Gaming

Once again, nothing out of the ordinary when it comes to the gaming performances. It still is the usual, powerful Snapdragon 660 that we know and love. Here is a quick rundown of what the Galaxy A9 (2018) is capable of doing in terms of games.

Starting off with Honkai Impact 3 at the highest graphical settings with all the effects enabled, and playing at 60FPS. It runs pretty smoothly if we are playing with the usual characters. The new, flashy “God Kiana” character does have a lot of fancy graphics and that is where the game gets a little choppy.

Asphalt 9 is rather smooth at highest graphics. Though, the anti-aliasing seems to be nonexistent here. Though for a fast-paced game like Asphalt, I don’t really mind if anti-aliasing is disabled.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) PUBG Mobile

As for PUBG Mobile, it can run on “balanced” graphics pretty well. For some reason, Vikendi, the new snow map, seems to suffer the most. Maybe that is because that map is still in beta stage. Sanhok runs well, though.

The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) comes with a fairly large 3,800mAh battery – while paired with the power-hungry Snapdragon 660, how long does it actually last?

We did our usual battery test on the Galaxy A9 (2018), and this is the data we obtained:

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) battery life benchmark

Fairly decent, I’d say. The 3,800mAh battery inside the Galaxy A9 (2018) can last for more or less about a full day given that a little conversation is needed. Obviously not the longest in terms of battery life, but considering that Samsung is using the higher powered Snapdragon 660 chipset, it is understandable to last for about 12.75 hours in our test.

Charger

The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) also comes with Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging charger. This charger can output a total of 9V at 1.67A, which totals up to 15W. Definitely not the fastest when it comes to fast charging, but it is indeed faster than the usual 5V 2A chargers.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

Take a look at the graph here where we compare the charging time of the Adaptive Fast Charging charger and a usual 5V 2A charger for the Galaxy A9 (2018).

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) battery charging graph curve

With Adaptive Fast Charging, the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) takes about 30 minutes to reach 50% battery charge, and a total of 51 minutes to reach 75% charge.

On the usual 5V 2A chargers however, it takes 43 minutes to reach 50% charge and a total of 74 minutes to reach 75% battery charge.

That is a stark difference!

First off, I have to give Samsung credit where it’s due – they did something bold with their mid-range series of smartphones this year. By adding more cameras into the vertical stack at the back, that adds a whole new dimension on what type of pictures can be taken with a smartphone.

With that said, the cameras on the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) is not particularly great in terms of the quality of images taken. The software is a little weird too, since the Pro mode does not allow to use the ultra wide angle camera or the telephoto camera.

Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018)

However, the other specs about the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) is as advertised – it performs fantastically for a mid-range smartphone, and the fairly large battery is fantastic as well. Let’s not forget that it supports Samsung Pay as well – one of my favorite Samsung-only feature.

When it comes to the price though, Samsung is asking RM1,999 for the Galaxy A9 (2018). That is a little steep considering that there are other smartphones with similar specs that is priced way lower.

So, the main conclusion is this – if you are going to utilize these Samsung features, then the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) is a fantastic phone for daily usage and even gaming.

Where to buy?


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REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design & Materials
9
Software
8
Connectivity and ports
9
Screen
9
Specifications
9
Camera
6
Battery and charger
9
Value
6
The enthusiastic nanoelectronic engineer who found his way into simplifying the world of tech for everyone. Introverted, but noisy. Nice to meet you!