Okay phone, so-so camera

Samsung Galaxy A9 comes with dependable battery life and top-notch screen, but fails to utilise its four cameras and competitors offer more

Samsung A series, with the "A" standing for "Alpha", is a line-up of phones that Samsung categorises as an upper mid-range Android phone. This series has been producing a good enough performance and above average photos. But does the latest A follow this description? No, not really.

Yes, the phone looks good with a nice gradient that starts with yellow and ends with dark blue, kind of like what Oppo and Huawei did last year with some of their phones. There is a colour variation of this A9 that is called "bubblegum pink" (a gradient that starts with light pink and ends with darker pink) and this one does stand out from the crowd, since no other brand does it. If you're into "hip" colours, this phone will not disappoint you.

Yes, the performance you get from this phone is on par with expectations of a mid-range phone, starting with excellent call quality on both ends. And most popular games like ROV, Free Fire, Ragnarok M and PUBG run OK, but I did experience slowdowns during gaming from time to time. ROV even hung on me several times a day during game play. Moreover, the phone packs an ample 6,800mAh battery (double the standard) that impressively gives you near two days of usage (if you're not gaming crazily). The phone also supports Dolby Atmos when used with headphones, which will neatly amplify the sound and clarity quite a bit.

The screen also boasts a very large 6.3-inch Samsung top quality display, perfect for video consumption or social media viewing.

But the feature that has been advertised the most and sticks out for most people, is the phone's weakest link. I'm talking about the four-lens camera at the back of the phone. The lenses can take a wide variety of scenarios, yes, but the photos produced look bland and there's a strange, slight delay before the phone actually snaps photos. There's a lens for 120-degree ultra-wide angle, one for 2x optical zoom, one to use as a depth sensor to create a realistic bokeh effect, and a main 24MP camera lens for general photo taking, but night shots tend to be grainy, especially if you use the wide-angle lens.

Luckily the phone does hop on the AI trend by having a built-in AI scene optimiser that chooses an appropriate setting to match the shot. And the phone does suggest you take another shot if the object in focus blinks, is blurred or is better lit with the HDR setting on.

The A9 does have AR emoji that transforms you into an animated cartoon character, just like Samsung's S9 or Note series phones. This is fun to have, if you're into this kind of thing.

Since this is a big phone, Samsung does include a fingerprint scanner (a bit slow to recognise your prints though), an earphone jack, a face unlock capability, and a Bixby button in case you need to call Samsung's digital assistant for help (like Siri and Google Assistant).

I detest the phone's tinny (but loud) bottom-firing speaker though, because its location makes it too easy to cover during regular usage.

Last year's A phone has an IP68 water-resistant grade, but not with this A9, and that's a bummer.

Since this is not the cheapest mid-ranger and offers a little less than something Huawei or Xiaomi gives at the same price point, it's hard to recommend this phone unless you really like Samsung and its colour schemes.

SPECS

Screen: 6.3-inch 2220 x 1080 Super AMOLED
Rear camera: 24MP + 5MP + 10MP + 8MP
Front camera: 24MP
RAM: 6GB
Memory: 128GB + MicroSD (max at 512GB)
CPU: Octa-Core 2.2GHz, 1.8GHz
Colour variety: Black, blue gradient, pink gradient
Connectivity: USB Type-C, headphone jack, Bluetooth v5.0, NFC
Battery: 6,800mAh
OS: Android 8.0
Price: 17,990 baht

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