Reviews
Pros

-Premium metal and glass construction
-Very large vibrant display
-Micro SD expansion
-Fantastic battery life
-Fingerprint scanner
-Fast performance

Cons

-Lower pixel density may turn some users away
-Occasional homescreen lag issues
-Weak speaker

Rating
Our Rating
Battery
9.6
Display
8.8
Camera
8.4
Performance
8.7
Software
9.0
Design
9.3
Bottom Line

For the most part, the Galaxy A9 offers everything the Galaxy S6 does, but in a much larger package. Due to this large size, battery life is no longer an issue, and expandable storage returns to the fold as well. Although the display resolution and camera have been downgraded, the Galaxy A9 performs just as well as Samsung’s other high-end flagships, making this a smartphone that is very easy to love.

9.0
Our Rating
You have rated this

Samsung refreshed their Galaxy A series at the end of last year, with the new smartphones in the series borrowing heavily from the design language and construction of Samsung’s 2015 flagships. Apart from the 2016 editions of the Galaxy A3, A5, and A7, Samsung also added a new device to the lineup, which is also the largest of the bunch, and at least on paper, falls squarely in the “premium mid-range” category that we’re all increasingly familiar with.

What does this latest large Samsung offering bring to the table? We find out, in this comprehensive Samsung Galaxy A9 review!

Design

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Samsung has always had a penchant for bringing their flagship design language to the rest of their smartphone portfolio, so it’s not really surprising that the Galaxy A9 looks like an over-sized Galaxy S6, or a Galaxy Note 5, albeit without the curves on the back. What returns is the fantastic build quality, with two Corning Gorilla Glass 4 panels held together by a metal frame. A few elements do differentiate the Galaxy A9 from its flagship counterparts however; its corners are less rounded, resulting in a more angular look; meanwhile, flagship features like the S-Pen and the heart rate monitor aren’t to be found here.

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Featuring a large 6-inch display, the handling experience is admittedly quite unwieldy, and while Samsung has done a great job in keeping the top part and the bottom chin relatively thin, one-handed use is quite literally a stretch. Some users will find hand gymnastics to be required to get across and to the top of the display, but with a somewhat slippery glass backing, using this phone with two hands will be your safest bet. Worth noting here is that despite being slightly thinner than the Galaxy Note 5, the camera unit on the back doesn’t protrude as much, which is one less thing to worry about when handling the device.

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What you will notice right away when you first pick up the Galaxy A9 is its weight, and at 200 grams, it is certainly one of the heaviest smartphones we’ve come across. This heft does result in a substantial feel, but combined with the phone’s large dimensions, it can feel a little unbalanced when maneuvering it around. Given that the additional weight is likely a result of the huge battery packed into the device, it’s something that is at least understandable.  

Display

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The Galaxy A9 comes with a 6-inch Super AMOLED display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution, resulting in a pixel density of 367 ppi. Samsung’s display prowess makes itself known once again with this screen, and everything you’d expect from a Super AMOLED panel, including vibrant, saturated colors, deep blacks, high brightness, and good viewing angles, are all to be seen here. The large display may not make for the best handling experience, but media-consumption and gaming-centric users will certainly appreciate the additional display real estate that is available to them.

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With Quad HD being the current flagship standard, some may be disappointed with the comparatively lower resolution of the display, but Full HD definitely gets the job done in this instance. Granted, some texts may appear fuzzy, and you may notice that the images are not the sharpest, especially if you’ve moved over from a device with a Quad HD display. All said and done however, the resolution doesn’t make as much of a difference as the vibrant colors do, and this display in certainly gorgeous. Add that to the fact that using a Full HD display will also lead to some benefits in terms of battery life, and Samsung’s decision to stay with a 1080p screen does make sense.

Performance

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You’ll find something quite different under the hood this time around, with Qualcomm returning to the Samsung fold with this device. The Galaxy A9 comes with the recently-renamed octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652 GPU, backed by the Adreno 510 GPU, and 3 GB of RAM. Seeing a Snapdragon 6xx at the helm may make you think of this as a mid-range processing package, but in terms of performance, what you get is actually quite close to the Galaxy Note 5, and the A9 seemingly surpasses the Galaxy S6, which is very impressive.

The device handles everyday tasks with ease – opening, closing, and switching between apps is a breeze, and gaming is a lot of fun, with few and far between dropped frames. Everything remains smooth and snappy for the most part, and the only instances of stutter that are noticeable are when moving to the Briefing screen to the left of the main homescreen, but that has been the case with previous Samsung smartphones as well, and is likely an issue with software optimization. The overall experience has been incredibly smooth, and the Galaxy A9 is certainly not going to disappoint as far as performance is concerned.

Hardware

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In hardware, the Galaxy A9 comes with a standard suite of connectivity options, including NFC, and you also get dual-SIM capabilities. 32 GB is the only storage option available here, but the great news is that expandable storage is now available with a near-flagship Samsung smartphone once again, with microSD card support up to 128 GB. The lack of expandable storage with the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5 caused an uproar among consumers, and it’s nice to see Samsung bring this feature back with a device that features a premium unibody construction, and perhaps, this is a little foreshadowing of the future as well.

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Retained from its flagship counterparts is the fingerprint scanner, returning to its usual position up front and embedded in the physical home button. Its placement allows for the scanner to be accessed at any time, letting you quickly unlock the device even if it is resting on a table. It can be a little awkward to reach it when you hold the device up, in which case the rear positioning that some OEMs have opted could be preferable.

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You still have to push the home button for the scanner to do its thing, but the scanner is otherwise very fast and accurate, failing to read the registered fingerprint only once in around twenty attempts. Apart from just unlocking the device, the fingerprint scanner is used with Samsung Pay as well, which is always a big plus. You may not get all the bells and whistles that Samsung packs into their flagship devices with the Galaxy A9, but it’s great to see the very useful fingerprint scanner making the jump.

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The single speaker unit is located on the right side at the bottom, and, as is the case with most bottom-mounted speakers, the placement isn’t ideal, as the sound is directed away from you, and makes for a speaker that is also very easy to cover up when holding the phone in the landscape orientation. However, it does get loud and the audio is also quite clear, with only a small amount of compression to it.

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Moving on to the battery, we were certainly excited to put the Galaxy A9 through its paces when we first heard that it featured a large 4,000 mAh battery, and along with that, the promise of fantastic battery life. It’s certainly great news that the device stands up to that promise, and comfortably so, easily lasting for as long as 2 days with average use. Even when using the device to take a lot of pictures, I experienced a very impressive 8 hours of screen-on time.

You’ll be hard-pressed to drain this battery quickly unless you’re a heavy gamer. On the flip side, you can get even more juice out of the battery by using Samsung’s built-in battery saving modes when you’re running low. You will rarely find the need to charge the Galaxy A9 every night, and when you do have to, it charges really quickly as well, taking advantage of Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0 technology.

Camera

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The camera, on paper, seems to be a step down from the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy Note 5, with the Galaxy A9 featuring a 13 MP primary shooter with a f/1.9 aperture. Fortunately, optical image stabilization is available as well, and overall, this camera is capable of taking some really good shots. To take pictures at full resolution, you’ll have to resort to shooting in a 4:3 aspect ratio however.

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In good lighting conditions, the camera performs very well, and there is some sharpening that happens during post processing, that helps create sharp looking pictures with vibrant colors. On the negative side, the camera can struggle with dynamic range, and lots of detail can get lost in the shadows. Overexposure is also very common for the camera, especially on overcast days, but HDR does a great job with fixing this while maintaining a realistic look. Image quality deteriorates as lighting conditions worsen, and you will start to see images that are quite dull, with not a lot of vibrancy to the colors, along with lots of noise as well.

Camera samples

The front-facing camera of the Galaxy A9 is actually a step up from what is found with its flagship counterparts, and the 8 MP shooter, also with a f/1.9 aperture, makes for a noticeable difference. While the selfie cam of the Galaxy S6 lacked detail, the Galaxy A9 allows for a good amount of detail to be seen in images. It is a wide angle lens as well, which helps get a lot of information into the shot.

Overall though, the cameras of the Galaxy A9 are very capable, but the Galaxy S6 is still the one to beat.

Software

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Finally, on the software side of things, it is certainly very surprising, and disappointing, to see the Galaxy A9, a device launched in December 2015, running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box. Granted, an official update to Android 6.0 Marshmallow is in the works, but with a device released so late in the year, we were certainly expecting it to come with the latest version of Android right away. For now, we have a version of TouchWiz that we’ve been familiar with for close to year.

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Samsung has done a decent job in toning down this version of its software package, when compared to previous iterations, but there are a few nice features still included. The notification dropdown is very nicely designed, if you don’t mind the color choice, and you do get to customize the Quick Settings toggles for easier access. Dual window support is also available, which can easily be taken advantage of when using this large display, but the feature is limited to only a select set of applications for now. Finally, the robust Theme Store is returning, which gives you the opportunity to really make the experience your own.

Granted, there is still work to be done here, like addressing the small stutters that are seen in relation to the homescreen animations, or when swiping over to the Briefing screen, but these will hopefully be taken care of when Samsung releases the official update to Marshmallow for the Galaxy A9.

Specifications

DIsplay6-inch Super AMOLED display
Full HD resolution, 367 ppi
Processor1.8 GHz octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 652
Adreno 510 GPU
RAM3 GB
Storage32 GB
expandable via microSD card by up to 128 GB
ConnectivityWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.1
GPS+GLONASS
NFC
FM Radio with RDS
microUSB 2.0
Cameras13 MP rear camera, f/1.9 aperture, OIS, LED flash
8 MP front-facing camera, f1/.9 aperture
Battery4,000 mAh
SoftwareAndroid 5.1.1 Lollipop
Dimensions161.7 x 80.9 x 7.4 mm
200 grams

Gallery

Pricing and final thoughts

The Samsung Galaxy A9 can be found on Amazon priced at close to the $600 mark, which is quite steep, but given the flagship features this device provides, it does make sense. Available color options include silver, white, gold, and pink gold.

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So there you have it for this in-depth look at the Samsung Galaxy A9! This smartphone proves to be quite compelling, by offering a flagship design and build quality, high-end performance, and incredible battery life, along with expandable storage coming back into the fold as well. The display resolution may not be the highest out there, and the camera may not be as good as Samsung’s flagship devices, but they are certainly not bad either. The Galaxy A9 proves that Samsung can definitely find the balance between looks and functionality, and this device could put the company back on top when it comes to creating smartphones for the power user.

  • Some Guy

    Review looks fire and crispy~

    • Yan Sy

      Hi my a9 cannot detect the gyroscope. I was going to install google cardboard and its saying that the app is not compatible with the device. Has anyone encountered this?

  • Drew Forester

    6 inch 1080p is NOT a low resolution — the only people who say stuff like that are professional reviewers who are spoiled by constant access to Quad HD smartphones.

    As an example: the vast majority of HDTVs that are sold today remain in the 40-50 inch range and have a 1080p resolution.

    My personal tv is a 55 inch 1080p model, and it’s not all that fuzzy-looking or pixellated from the couch. My current phone is an Alcatel OneTouch Idol 3, a 5.5 inch affair with a 1080p screen, and it’s well more than I need — I’d be fine with a 720p display in the 5/5.5 inch range.

    I don’t really blame reviewers for being like this; I would totally do the same thing in that position, but it’s a line that gets under my skin because of how often I hear it and it often comes across as misleading.

    6 inch 1080p is plenty, and it has the added bonus of keeping the screen’s battery drain lower than “cut yourself shaving with this sharpness” screens

    • Igy Tech

      I agree that 1080p is not low resolution for 6″ device but don’t compare TV which you look from 2-3 m (or more if you have 55″ TV) and device you look from distance about 30 cm. You can stay in front of TV and see what 1080p look like on 50″ – not too sharp.
      1080p is very good resolution for big smartphones (720p also good for smaller) but for 10-12″ tablets can recommend QHD because we look it from smaller distance then laptops and bigger then smartphones.

      • michel thomasius

        Opinions are obviously subjective, so I’ll pre-empt my comment with that. For me personally, 1080p is still plenty good enough for many devices, not just my phones. I own a Xiaomi Note with a 5.7″ 1080p screen, and I cannot see any pixels. At least not in normal day-to-day use. I also have a 12″ Dell Venue Pro Windows 10 Tablet, running 1080p, which I usually hold pretty close to my face (around 50-70cm), and again, I can hardly see any pixelation.

        Granted, 6″ may be pushing how far you want to go with a 1080p screen, but given the MASSIVE battery life you’ll likely to get, I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt for now.

        Lastly, lets not all succumb to the myopia of Marketing departments, that is the constant spec chase, and lets examine where we came from: Remember the late 90’s? When we were all working on 13″, 14″ CRT Computer Screens, with resolutions of 640×480, or 800×600? And 1024 was considered CRAZY?! I remember the first time I could run 1280×1024 resolution, and that was INCREDIBLE!

        So, do not forget where we came from, and assess things with an eye on history, and you’ll be more grateful for what we have right now. And I don’t need to give any of you a history lesson in how we’ve all had Smartphones for less than a decade! 1080p is plenty. Especially for sub-6″ phones. At least for another year, until battery technology can catch up.

    • Smokingaces

      Totally agree. Also, a lower resolution is much softer on processor as processor has to push lower pixels and hence you get a far better gaming performance.

    • sparks wilde

      You, I like you.

  • Realisy

    cool phone. good battery and decent specs to go with it. if it ever comes, marshmellow will come to this phone next year aside from some part of europe that always gets the updates first. Now using two nexuses.. only thing I really miss from samsung phones are the wacom stylus and cool features that come with it (multi page screen shot etc…).

  • Box

    I’ll give the the phone a rating of 4 but i give Krystal a 10+ every time! :-)

    • AbbyZFresh

      Stop thinking with your penis and focus on the phone.

  • Chauntella Stephanie Brown

    Great Review Krystal:)

  • le_lutin

    Very well written review.

  • Pedro

    This seems like a very solid and capable phone, except for it’s pricing tag….

    • michel thomasius

      Check out the pricing on eBay from Hong Kong based vendors. Yes, not as cheap as Chinese phones, but very competitive! I’ve seen it for as low as £356!

    • Scott Wittig

      Right! Why not just get a Note 5 almost same price

  • moew

    No front facing stereo speakers, no interest. Very nice write up for sure!

    • Joshua

      Same here. Right now, I have the HTC one Max and was hoping they’d make a ‘2’. Been looking at the Google Nexus 6 which also comes with front speakers and 6-inch screen but wanted a Samsung. I saw this Galaxy A9 and am turned off with the lack of front-facing speakers. Can’t anyone just make the perfect phone? Sheesh! Lol

      • stfu

        Front facing speakers aren’t a prerequisite for the “perfect” phone. Get a life.

        • Joshua

          Stfu

          • stfu

            Lol virgin.

        • Alessandro

          for me IS a prerequisite …..a big phone with 6 inch is for multimedia… and multimedia NEED to use 2x speakers!

      • Fornavn Etternavn

        Nexus 6p

  • Daggett Beaver

    MST for Samsung Pay? Wireless charging? Fast wireless charging? For $600 I’d expect these, but I haven’t seen these features mentioned on any spec sheets for the A9.

  • Kody

    Idk, 367 ppi is still very good. It’s more like middle than low ppi.

  • boas bnu

    For a soon-to-be midrange specs when the 820 based phone come out, the asking price of $600 really high, especially since the galaxy s6 edge+ already in this $600 price range, and the s6 even low.

    I think samsung should be selling this in the $400-450 price range for Q1. and when the SD820 come out, and last year device price down, this should be around $300-350 for Q2.

    • skyelm

      Nop… Coz
      1. Material
      2. Profits

      Maybe it costs 300 to make it. Maybe they want better profits

      This race to the bottom is just rubbish.

      • boas bnu

        LOL @ you.
        Even iPhone only cost less than $200 to produce.

        • skyelm

          So? This is not a iPhone. Screen size, RAM size, Storage size. Number of orders. Who said cost 200? Apple or some estimate?

          Apple orders extremely large numbers of each part very quickly thus reducing costs. You think a A series or even S series is on the same numbers league? Come on

          Next article people complain about low wages while they want cheap products. Not gonna happen. LG did not make money coz of low G4 price + weak demand.

          • Pobouch

            Low G4 price? Wtf

          • skyelm

            Check the price of a G4 vs S6 vs Z5 vs M9 vs iPhone then you’ll see its low.

          • boas bnu

            spoiler alert…
            in kristal video review of Galaxy A9, it’s been noted there that the A9 now sell at US$499… So, I AM RIGHT!!!!! Samsung know that $600 doesn’t make sense.

  • boas bnu

    Thank you for the review.

    1. I was wondering, for the Screen On Time (SOT) of 8 hour, is it a straight use of 8 hour, or a total of one day use (including idle).

    2. Can you shed more light on the dual SIM. Is the SIM 2 a 2G only? Can I use the data on both SIM i.e. if I put my home country card on SIM 1 & the other country SIM card on SIM 2. Then when I travel, I could switch the data to SIM 2, so I don’t need to switch the card to/from SIM1/SIM2.

    Thanks.

    • skyelm

      Come on. SOT… It says so there in your comment. Its the time spent with the screen ON. You can’t use a phone 8hours straight, never in real life but only in tests or competition.

      What is idle time according to you? This might help answer your question better too.

      Waiting dor your reply.

      • boas bnu

        If Kristal not doing a straight 8 hour test. That’s mean, it’s even better. Because the 8 hour SOT is a standby time + SOT

  • RacerRick55

    Really wanted this one to have bands 2, 4, and 12 for T-Mobile……..oh well………Samsung’s great 6-inch 1080 phone, I cannot use.

    • Say What??

      I hear you man. Here in the U.S. if you want a 6 inch or larger phone with flagship specs (or even a 6 inch phone honestly) you’re SOL. Samsung finally makes a 6 inch phone then only sells it overseas. I hate to say it but as far as phones go it sucks to live in the U.S. This is what makes me buy phones from China like the Mate 8.

      • RacerRick55

        Look for the zte zmax pro on t-Mobile this summer. 6 inch 1080 screen…. Can’t wait.

        • Say What??

          With a snapdragon 615. I’ll pass. I’d rather buy another Mate 8.

          • RacerRick55

            Snapdragon 617, quad core at 1.5, plenty good enough for what I do…with a phone.
            My $2K gaming PC is where I game……

  • Igy Tech

    My problem is that Krystal too much disturb on every review :) Can’t concentre (and I love tech). Think about video review.

    • AbbyZFresh

      You really don’t get out much do you?

      • Igy Tech

        Less then ever but this is not a point

  • Rybone89

    A Snapdragon 652 beats a Exynos 7420?!

    • Igy Tech

      I think Exynos 7420 works better on Meizu. But 652 looks to be very good SOC in CPU section 1441/4609. GPU belive not so good.

    • Blowntoaster

      nope. ran the same benchmarks on my S6 edge now.

      latest Antutu score: 78000 vs 67K on a9 (RAM score on A9 higher by a hair – probably due to newer module from same company…)
      Geekbench 3: single core and multicore both higher than A9.

  • Mohammad Hussain

    Damn that SD652 is powerful. Nearly as good as 810.

  • Would like to see a review of Le1s

  • Yadwinder Gill

    I request Android Authority editors to not list Pros and Cons and ratings at the top of the article. It takes all the fun from reading the whole article. It seems like telling the climax of a thriller in the very beginning of the movie

    • michel thomasius

      Actually, some people (like me) like that feature. Maybe make it so that it can be hidden by default, and opened if desired?

  • stfu

    Not a fan of the price, but the new a-series is seriously beautiful. The build quality is superb. But yeah, imo much too highly priced.

  • HotelQuebec

    Great review but do you bachata?

  • Smokingaces

    Really nice review, but you didn’t say anything about Call quality(ear-piece mainly) which is still the most important feature for me no matter how fancy the phone is? And what about signal reception?
    Also, I don’t get it when you say “but in terms of performance, what you get is actually quite close to the Galaxy Note 5, and the A9 seemingly surpasses the Galaxy S6, which is very impressive”. How is that? Don’t Galaxy S6 and Note 5 both have the same processors? And same software?

    • sonybru

      Maybe because the note 5 has more memory, it runs smoother than the s6 and this phone probably matches that performance.

  • s2weden2000

    that’s right! choice …

  • Xtopher

    This would be better option to. S6

  • raiderskull

    Mid-range for 600$? I heard the new s7 is selling for 700$. I think I’ll stick with my Blue pure xl.

  • Kumar

    Hi, could you please elaborate further on the speaker quality & the network reception quality? I could not keep a8 for long due to bad speaker. Is it better in a9 or as bad as the a8?

  • Fitzgerald42

    Until phones are consistently used as vr or ar gateways, a full HD display is great. I am glad the comment of a 1080p screen rubbed a lot of people the wrong way.

  • rocketryan

    Funny that most people say rhe iphone 6s screen is perfectly sharp, yet is lower resolution. Samsung make the best screens.

  • dd

    dear android authority members; could you please double confirm that galaxy a9 supports qualcomm quick charge 3.0 technology? Cause this review is the only source which already mentions about this issue, but the only one i ve found on net. So i felt a need to ask this?..

  • Harry Sayers

    Is this available in the UK?

  • Tony

    Does it support wireless charge?

  • Paul Thomas SGone

    I have the A9 Pro and it’s AMAIZING in capital letters. The Galaxy A9 has less battery and Camera, on the battery the gap is huge, but a Vs on the cameras the battle is almost equal.

    These Galaxy A9’s are a must buy smartphone’s. Beautiful, fast, strong made, like old [email protected] xD with the battery life. By the way, my A9 Pro has a great Speaker sound 👍