2018 has been a busy year for Samsung. We've seen the South Korean smartphone maker announce one after another, newer and better phones, with the sole aim of fending off growing attacks from rival smartphone makers looking to loosen its once vice-like grip over various segments of the Indian smartphone market.
The impact of the attacks from the likes of Xiaomi, Oppo, and OnePlus has been such that over the course of this year, Samsung has introduced to the market mid-segment and budget phones, bringing with them features such as Infinity Displays that, up until last year, were set aside for devices from its flagship line-ups – the Note and S9 line-up.
But 2018 didn't see Samsung stopping just there.
It went one step ahead and veered into what many would term gimmick territory, as it announced phones with multiple cameras on the back.
First came the three camera-setup device, the Galaxy A7. Now, we have with us its bigger sibling – and the world's first quad-camera set-up smartphone – the Galaxy A9 (2018).
Announced at an event in New Delhi, the Galaxy A9 (2018) is the company's attempt at winning back the sub Rs 40K market that has of late been dominated by OnePlus and other new smartphone makers. The phone comes with four cameras that Samsung claims will bring superior imaging technology that will help it redefine the segment.
Now, only time will tell if such claims do eventually come true. But for now, we got a chance to spend some time with the device at the launch — here's what our initial impressions are of it.
Design and display
Now, the design is very much in line with what we've seen from Samsung in 2018. Glass at the back and an AMOLED Infinity Display at the front. This has pretty much become the one common feature of the newer Galaxy phones from Samsung this year. However, the treatment of the design appeared a little different on the A9.
The glass back brings with it a gradient colour scheme that is available in three different colours – Bubblegum Pink, Lemonade Blue and Caviar Black. The first two, however, only get the gradient colour shifts, with the Caviar Black not seeing any colour shifts based on changing angles of the light.
Overall, at first look, the phone is quite pleasing to the eye, and also has a nice feel to it while you hold it in the hand.
Coming to the display, at the front, there's a 6.3-inch FHD+ (1080x2160) Super AMOLED display with Always-On support. In our limited time with the device, the A9's display appeared on point, as brightness and viewing angles both seemed to be no issues.
Much like Samsung's other Infinity Displays, even this panel appeared to be calibrated for slightly oversaturated colours — however, that's not really a negative as pictures looked sharp and colours appeared vivid on it.
The phone's frame also houses a 3.5mm headphone jack, a USB Type-C port as well as power and volume rocker on the side. The fingerprint scanner on the device is located on the back of the phone.
Specification, cameras and battery
Coming to what's under the hood, the Galaxy A9 is powered by an octa-core Snapdragon 660 chipset, paired with up to 8GB of RAM and as much as 128GB of storage.
Now, first things first, despite being quite powerful, the 660 SoC is not the Snapdragon 845 or the likes.
Yet, it cannot be denied that it has enough horsepower to get users through pretty much most things they throw at it. Though we still need to extensively test the device, our initial impression of its performance was positive. The Galaxy A9 seemed snappy and OS animations ran smooth as they should. Apps too opened quick.
Yet, we'll reserve our judgment on the performance of the device for our full review that will be featured soon. Watch this space.
Talking about the headline feature of the Galaxy A9 meanwhile, Samsung has equipped the quad-camera setup with a 24 Megapixel main sensor with f/1.7 aperture, an 8 Megapixel 120-degree ultra wide-angle lens – f/2.4 aperture, a 10 Megapixel telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom and a 5 Megapixel depth sensor. The front camera setup brings with it a 24 Megapixel snapper. Much like the Galaxy A7, all the lenses can be used separately by switching modes.
To prove that it is going with photography on this phone, Samsung has also added a number of modes to the camera app on the phone, with a number of modes like Live Focus, Beauty, Super Slow-Mo and Scene Optimiser, among others.
In terms of battery, the device has been equipped with a 3800mAh pack with support for fast charge support via USB Type-C.
Samsung has already put the Galaxy A9 for pre-order starting today and has announced that the device will start shipping out to buyers later this month – November 28.
As for its price, Samsung has cut the price of the device considerably from its global pricing of 599 euros (approx Rs 51,300). The Galaxy A9 price in India has been set at Rs 36,990 for the 6GB + 128GB variant and Rs 39,990 for the 8GB + 128GB model.
Considering that there is strong competition within this price bracket in India, Galaxy A9's competitive price seems a step in the right direction by Samsung. However, whether this price alone will make it a success is a little difficult to say.
In the little time we spent with it, we found the Galaxy A9 to be quite polished. It looked nice and felt premium to hold. Yet, the very fact that it comes fighting in the sub- Rs 40k segment means that it will need more than just silky looks and decent performance.
It will need an X-factor.
Will the four camera setup provide that?
We'll answer that question in our full review of the device. Stay tuned.