Samsung has suddenly become a lot more adventurous of late. There’s been a flurry of launches over the past few months, and it looks like the Korean giant is catching on to the fact that it needs to innovate and jump on board with trends as they happen. We usually see new top-end features debut with the flagship Galaxy S and Galaxy Note series, and then trickle down to the mid-tier A-series and youth-focused J-series. For example, Samsung was one of the first to introduce tall, narrow Infinity Display screens, but it took ages for this well-received feature to show up on lower-tier offerings. Competitors caught on much sooner, and began selling low-cost phones that looked much more modern and sleek than Samsung’s own.
Now, with the Galaxy A9 (2018), Samsung is showing that it can anticipate trends — or at least keep up with other companies that do. It’s quite a surprise that Samsung’s first quad-camera phone is an A-series model, which makes current flagships including the very recently launched Galaxy Note 9 (Review) look a bit out of date. We’re eager to see whether Samsung can excite buyers once again with this headline-grabbing new feature. Read our Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) review to find out.
Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) design
The Galaxy A9 (2018) has a few striking design touches that show that Samsung is now willing to lead with its current models rather than wait for the next Galaxy S flagship to roll around. It comes in three distinct looks, one of which is just plain and simple black, while the other two are uncharacteristically exuberant for Samsung. Multicolour gradients are clearly the latest design trend, with Huawei, Oppo, and most recently OnePlus getting in on the action. Our Galaxy A9 (2018) review unit is the Lemonade Blue version, with a light yellowish green spot at the top fading into a rich, deep blue on the bottom. The last option is Bubblegum Pink, which is a light blush fading into a much deeper pink. Either of these would be sure to grab a lot of attention, so we’re glad that Samsung is offering a plain black option for those who have subtle taste.
It isn’t just the jewel-tone colours that stand out — the finish is very shiny and there’s a faint grainy texture that gives it depth and catches light as the phone moves. The quad-camera module and fingerprint sensor of the Galaxy A9 (2018) are outlined in bright blue. The metal frame of the phone is blue as well, and it matches the bottom of the gradient but stands out sharply against yellowish-green at the top. The contrast is very noticeable because of how the back of this phone curves to meet the sides.
The front of this phone isn’t half as attention-grabbing as its back. Samsung clearly doesn’t think much of current-day notches — we’ll have to wait a while for displays with camera holes to arrive. The Infinity Display screen does not curve at the sides and there are relatively chunky borders above and below it. We don’t think there’s anything wrong with this, but the Galaxy A9 (2018) doesn’t look as modern as some of its competition.
The four cameras are arranged in a narrow vertical strip, similar to what we first saw on the triple-camera Galaxy A7 (2018) (Review). Going from the top to the bottom, we have an ultra-wide 8-megapixel camera with a 120-degree field of view; a 10-megapixel telephoto camera with a 2X zoom lens; the 24-megapixel main camera that boasts of an f/1.7 aperture, and a 5-megapixel depth sensor to assist with focusing and portrait shots. Unfortunately, we often had to adjust our grip to avoid covering the ultra-wide lens when holding this phone horizontally.
There’s a dedicated physical button on the left of the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2018) for the Bixby voice assistant, and it can’t be reprogrammed — at least not without a third-party app. The power and volume buttons are on the right, and the sheer size of this phone means that they won’t always be within reach. There’s a tray at the top, and thankfully it can accommodate two Nano-SIMs as well as a microSD card. A single speaker, USB Type-C port, and 3.5mm audio socket fill out the bottom of this phone.