The Samsung Galaxy A9 2016 is a surprised when the Korean giant launched and released it a few months ago. It’s a close-to-flagship and premium mid-range phablet on upper echelons while leading the entire A series. But is the flagship quality enough to justify the high price (Php 20k+ pesos or $450 USD in PH) in the market? What does it offer over the Galaxy A5 and A7 2016? Read our Samsung Galaxy A9 full review to find out.
Samsung Philippines haven’t announced the official release of Galaxy A9 here, but the device is already up for sale thru online stores.
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Design and build
The Galaxy A trio-Galaxy A5, A7, and A9–all have the same form and metal plus glass design combination. The only main difference in build between each of the model is the size due to the different display and battery capacities.
The Galaxy A9 feels premium and solid as the two Galaxy A series. The front and back are both curved with Gorilla Glass 4 backing. Around the phone is an aluminum frame that gives a sturdy feel when holding the phone despite a relatively large and hefty (200g) footprint.
Ports are standard on the phablet, but the dual-SIM and microSD card slots are great bonuses. The fingerprint sensor embedded on the home button works as fast as to flagship scanners we’ve used.
Display and viewing experience
One of the main advantages of the Galaxy A9 is the massive 6-inch 1080p Full HD Super AMOLED panel. This is the reason for the unwieldy size, but it’s all worth it if you are mostly consuming videos and gaming.
The screen with sharpness at 367 ppi does the job well with the same formula of great viewing angles, really bright output, and superb color like the rest of the Super AMOLED-equipped Galaxy phones.
We expected a lot from the camera of the Galaxy A9 knowing it is the most expensive and has the closest pricing of Galaxy S7. But we were left a bit disappointed overall. The sensor on the back is 13MP with f1.9 aperture while the 5MP selfie shooter up front has the same f1.9 aperture as well. Again, the cameras of the Galaxy trio are the same shoot up to 1080p full HD video.
Daylight, HDR, and night shooting
The reason we were not liking the camera is the average quality of the photos with some shots lacking natural colors, especially in night shooting. The sharpness processing is also quite off producing so so details. However, most shots are bright and with moderate dynamic range handling. Sadly, the HDR won’t kick in unless you will turn it manually from the camera settings.
Selfie portraits from 8MP camera
By default, the beautification and skin smoothening effect on the selfie shooter works best people who love to have some makeup effect on top. Photos are really bright and sometimes overblown the highlights on the background.
Nonetheless, the camera quality is average but disappointing in total knowing the steep price you are paying for the whole package.
Software and UI
Unlike on the latest Galaxy J5 and J7 2016 editions who are running on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow out of the box, the Galaxy A9 and the rest of the A team run on Lollipop. But recent news suggests that Samsung has started the global software update rollout of Marshmallow to Galaxy A9.
On top of the Android OS is the TouchWiz, which frankly speaking hasn’t changed much from the previous software version. However, improvements are found more under the hood providing richer and faster experience.
Performance and benchmark
Speaking of speed, the Galaxy A9 is equipped with a Snapdragon 652 octa-core chip that fared well in our benchmark and actual speed test. The RAM is 3GB, but there’s an option to 4GB in the form of Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro (with a larger battery too).
Overall speed is really good on this phablet. We didn’t feel any major stuttering or slowdown in the system while running games and multitasking with several apps.
Battery life and charging
Powering this hardware is a 4000mAh sealed battery. The endurance rating is 36 hours, which is really good for its size and above average than most phones today. This equates to near 2 whole days of usage and 5 hours screen-on time.
Charging the whooping 4000mAh using the Fast Adaptive charger found in the retail box took approximate 2 hours. Using higher amperage power adapters will get you lesser charging time.
Battery endurance rating
Speaker and audio
The loudspeaker on the bottom of the phone produces decent vocals and solid bass. Overall, the audio output is crisp and loud. What’s missing is a stereo speakers and Hi-Fi audio or DAC amp.
Pricing and Verdict
Aside from the massive display and battery size, the Galaxy A9 has more serious computing power than the rest of the mid-range series of Samsung, though it’s the whole shebang that makes it a more compelling choice. We still like the glass and metal design knowing it’s originated from last year’s Galaxy S6. And for the camera, this is the only reason we are not completely sold. However, the overall package is reasonable for a Php 20k+ price in the gray market as Samsung Philippines may not release it here locally.
- Premium build and design
- Wide, punchy Super AMOLED display
- Capable Snapdragon 652 octa-core chip
- Massive battery
- Camera quality is bland
- Quite hefty
Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) Official price, full specs, release date in the Philippines
Display: 6.0-inches 1080p Full HD Super AMOLED, 367 ppi
Design: Metal, Curved 2.5D Glass, Gorilla Glass 4
Size: 7.4mm thick, 200g weight
Chip: Snapdragon 652 octa-core
CPU: Quad-core Cortex A72 + A53 processor
GPU: Adreno 510 graphics
RAM: 3GB / 4GB RAM for A9 Pro
Memory: 32GB internal + 128GB max microSD card (hybrid)
Camera: 13MP, f1.9 lens aperture, OIS, LED flash, Full HD 1080p video
Selfie: 8MP f1.9 front-facing, 1080p video
Connectivity: WiFi a, Bluetooth 4.0, GPS, 4G LTE, dual-SIM (hybrid slot)
Sensor: Fingerprint scanner
Port: microUSB 2.0
Battery: 4000 mAh + Fast Charging
Color: Gold, White, Black, Rose Gold
OS: Android 5.1 Lollipop, upgrade to Android 6.0 Marshmallow
Release date: March 2016 in the Philippines
Price: Php 20k+ pesos in online, purchased from WidgetCity
Full video review and comparison of Samsung Galaxy A9 Pro