back to article Samsung Galaxy A9: Mid-range bruiser that takes the fight to Huawei

Samsung has launched the Galaxy A9 – its most comprehensive offensive against the twin threats of SIM-only subscribers and Chinese giant Huawei. The fightback involves a stronger mid-range, trade-ins, and promises better turnaround for faults and repairs. Mid-range smartphone sales grew 46 per cent in the UK last year, to 21 …

  1. DougS Silver badge

    Four cameras?

    https://www.theonion.com/fuck-everything-were-doing-five-blades-1819584036

    1. Dacarlo
      Coat

      Re: Four cameras?

      As opposed to four candles...

      1. Phil W

        Re: Four cameras?

        Are you thinking of the Mach 20 razor?

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FAP8o5ZEo0

    2. Chz

      Re: Four cameras?

      Five cameras, if you count the front. And with a headphone jack, unlike the Huawei P20 and its "five cameras, no headphone jack" nonsense.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Four cameras?

      BTW, what's for a low res "wide angle" camera? You need a lot of details in a wide-angle image, or it's just crap. But probably the lens can't deliver enough quality...

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        Re: Four cameras?

        BTW, what's for a low res "wide angle" camera?

        Low cost, manufacturer convenience, and an assumed primary use case of taking pics of drunkards in poorly lit bars.

      2. juice Bronze badge

        Re: Four cameras?

        > what's for a low res "wide angle" camera? You need a lot of details in a wide-angle image, or it's just crap.

        Eee, how times have changed. 8MP means that the images are 3264 * 2448. At 200dpi, that's comfortably good enough to print out at A4, possibly even A3! And you'll have to downsample it to view on anything below 4K.

        (insert usual argument about how phone cameras aren't as good as dedicated camera. etc etc)

        Then too, I suspect this lens generally isn't going to be used for panoramic shots. Instead, it'll be used selfies and group photos down the pub.

        I'd actually guess that we're going to see more phones with wide-angle lenses, as I suspect that manufacturers are finding that their additional "optical zoom" lenses aren't as much of a draw as they'd hoped - as per above, when you've got a main 20MP+ lens, you can effectively "zoom" to around 4x without any significant visual loss of quality, especially since most photos are viewed on mobile devices and/or uploaded to social media where they get downscaled and resampled regardless.

        (Though no doubt manufacturers will keep building in optical zoom lenses, since once something gets onto the standard marketing checklist, it's often hard to dislodge it!)

        As per some of my previous waffles on here, I bought an LG V30 specifically for the (13MP) wide angle lens - I do a lot of street-art photography (jamie.mann.uk on Instagram, if anyone's bored enough), and a lot of pieces just aren't photographable even with a 25mm-equivalent lens, unless you want to switch to panoramic mode and let the camera stitch multiple images together.

        Generally, I'm happy enough with the wide-angle lens - though ironically - as compared to my previous phone (S7 Edge), I keep finding that I have to take a step back when using the "normal" lens, and while it's brilliant for relatively static shots (and bloomin' good for video capture), it's not particularly great at dynamic photos.

        For now, I'll wait and see what the S10 ends up with - the expectation is that it'll also have a wide-angle lens - but in the meantime, if I do accidentally flush my V30 down the loo, at least there's a potentially cheaper handset available to replace it!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "At 200dpi, that's comfortably good enough to print out at A4"

          At 200 *ppi* you get a low quality A4 print - a newspaper is around 170ppi. You'd aim at least at 300ppi.

          Forget A3, if it's not seen far enough. For a two-three feet viewing distance, usually the minimum is 280ppi. For billboards yo can go lower, but they are not exactly fine art photos.

          A wide-angle selfie usually makes you an Addams Family member, as people at the edge of any group.

    4. ItsMeDammit

      Re: Four cameras?

      "The first blade shaves close, the second even closer. The third will have a ball off..."

      Absolute 80's, a few years back - IIRC.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Already bought a Nokia 8 for £259, bargain.

  3. doublelayer

    6 gigabytes

    Out of curiosity, how frequently does a phone actually use six gigabytes of RAM? More specifically, how often does it use it for a reason other than "why ever remove something from memory when you have six gigabytes of it to play in"? There seem to be a lot of phones out there with 2-4 gigs, and I wonder how noticeable the difference is. If I had two phones with exactly the same specs except one has six gigs of memory and the other only four, is there a recognizable difference in standard usage between them?

    1. Palladium

      Re: 6 gigabytes

      Well from first hand experience Android on 3GB is much smoother and snappier than 2GB. There isn't any good reason to buy any 2GB device these days.

      Also, low end and midrange Samsung phones has always been trash in value/$, especially when their own flagships usually have some sort of hefty discounts, while Xiaomi/Huawei just completely destroys their lineup below that.

    2. Chz

      Re: 6 gigabytes

      From personal experience, 3 is minimum to see no lag in switching apps, 4 is better. 6 is definitely OTT, I think it will be quite some time before that's necessary. But even a Nexus 5 running stock Android was a bit slow on 2GB when it came to app switching. (This is not the same as its in-app slowness of being damned old)

    3. Waseem Alkurdi

      Re: 6 gigabytes

      If you compile Android ROMs and you keep your devices for long, you're definitely going to need 6-8 GBs for RAM. Future-proofing. You never know what the system requirements of tomorrow's Android are going to be.

      A Note II from 2013 (with 2 GB of RAM, which seemed hefty for the 512 MB - 1 GB of the era) runs fine today on Android 7.0.

      Not the same can be said of the Galaxy S III (GT-i9300, not the US versions) and its 1 GB / 760 MB available.

      1. Captain Hogwash

        Re: GT-i9300

        Mine runs pretty well on Android 7.1 (although not as well as my S5 on 8.1.) The trick is to get rid of all the Google & Samsung crap.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          Re: GT-i9300

          Just to insert a sense of perspective. 6GB is more than even Windows needs. How times have changed.

          Ok Windows aint great with <8 Gb but you get my point.

          1. Jim 59

            Re: GT-i9300

            Time to quote Bill Gates again, re 640k.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: GT-i9300

          I also have the S3. How did you do the upgrade?

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: GT-i9300

            this is a note 3 running android 7. runs fine. I also play elite dangerous in VR with riftcat too. activity monitor says 680mb free out of 2.77gb. cpu hovers around 30pct most of the time whilst working.

            my daughter bought a motorola g6 play for 120 on amazon this summer. it blows my n3 out of the water in everything but screen quality. that only has 3gb ram and came with 8.0.

          2. Captain Hogwash

            Re: How did you do the upgrade?

            Instructions here: https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/i9300/install

  4. Mat Bettinson

    I've flirted with Samsung devices. The last one was an S8, and that will be my last Samsung. The hardware was brilliant, though it ended up being more fragile than I'd like.

    The problem with Samsung is the software. I don't mean the usual raft of crapware pre-installed, although there certainly is that - like some `flipboard' thing shoved onto a swipe-left screen. It's the proliferation of Samsung services of dubious value, and which the phone constantly nags about, set up an account, log-in rah rah rah. It was a constant source of annoyance, and it was very confusing to the missus when I passed it to her.

    In my midrange phones are basically good enough. So I'd much rather get something that has a light touch. I had a lot of luck with a OnePlus 5, best phone I had in years, but I hear the Android One devices are good too. It seems to me a big chunk of the Android ecosystem treats their phones as an opportunity to upsell you on a load of digital services which ... really wouldn't be compelling in any way unless it was forced down your throat, preinstalled on their mobe. And you want me to pay you for that?

    1. Phil Kingston Silver badge

      What really got me about all the Samsung bloat and crapware was that they don't even let you uninstall them. I mean, it's one thing to ship a device loaded up with shite, and quite another to not even let the user remove it.

      1. Ledswinger Silver badge

        What really got me about all the Samsung bloat and crapware was that they don't even let you uninstall them.

        But that is the norm for almost all Android makers. They must be losing money hand over fist on their shitty me-too software and cloud offerings, and yet they still persist, kidding themselves that somehow it will help them go from manufacturers' thin margins to Googlesque fat margins in a few months. And all the while, makers don't notice that nobody in the history of the world ever said "Wow, this manufacturer skin and manufacturer apps are really great, I'm so pleased with them, and wish they'd do more of this".

        Even people like Huawei and Xiaomi are doing this. There's only two real options for Android owners: Get all techy and install Lineages OS and hope that all the hardware features still work, or buy an Android One device.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Get all techy and install Lineages OS and hope that all the hardware features still work

          Which, partly due to the popularity of Samsung devices, is pretty likely; apart, perhaps from an FM radio (if the phone has it) and some of the camera features. But always check before you buy.

    2. Dave 126 Silver badge

      > It's the proliferation of Samsung services of dubious value, and which the phone constantly nags about, set up an account, log-in rah rah rah. It was a constant source of annoyance,

      Yeah, there are some annoyances, but they can be fixed. For sure it's annoying to have to create an account before being able to disable the Bixby button, and go into the Galaxy Store to disable some notifications and nags, but all in all these things don't take that long.

      Once done you're left with some very good hardware. Stick a good case and a glass screen protector on its slim frame and it's resilient too, happy to shrug off a drop into concrete just as it is a drop into a puddle.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I've flirted with Samsung devices.

      That's a sad geeky comment, but I'll let that one slide, so to speak.

      The main reason you should avoid Samsung phones even more than Kanye West post Trump visit is what they make you agree to before the phone even works. Unlike most people, I read that stuff and its contents is (a) horrifying and (b) as far as I can tell, flat out illegal.

      The latter needs some explanation: you will not get a fully functional phone until you agree to both Google and Samsung Terms, and both pretty much demand you abandon any attempt to protect your personal privacy.

      That is first of all illegal because the phone doesn't really work without, so as far as I can tell you're looking at what in the UK is termed an unfair contract (as it's one sided and you're not left with many options after having spent a lot of money to get value from your purchase). Secondly it is also illegal because your "permission" is gained under duress (phone functionality doesn't enable without it), which invalidates that permission under GDPR - put another way, even though you "agreed", that permission is invalid and use of your data thus gained is potentially illegal which could make for an interesting mess if someone finally reported this.

      Frankly, if I were a law student in need of publicity I'd file a complaint with the ICO. I can't because I buy gear like that on credit card so I can roll back the transaction if I don't like it, using consumer protection laws. Put another way, I had a Samsung for all but 5 minutes after unboxing :). Never again.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi

        Dump TouchWiz / Samsung Experience completely and install an AOSP / LineageOS ROM. One down, one to go, or two down if you don't install GApps.

      2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        That is first of all illegal because the phone doesn't really work without, so as far as I can tell you're looking at what in the UK is termed an unfair contract

        So the contract is invalid and unenforceable. Samsung make great phones with, apart from the camera app, shit software. Fortunately, it's normally pretty easy to root them and install something over which you have more control.

    4. Jim 59

      @Mat Bettinson - True. Six years after purchase, I am *still* trying to wipe the bloatware from my Samsung S3. Titanium does a good job, but there is so much rubbish to wade through.

      These days, Android phones have a life expectency of only about 3 years. After that, you are 2 OS levels adrift, and the first apps start complaining that your OS is not compatible, so bye-bye. A shocking situation that makes buyers of £800 flagships look a bit daft. This is the situation I faced in 2015 with my £500 S3 "flagship".

      With that in mind, I am looking at the Android One on the Nokia 6.1. A reasonable midrange phone, but its the device's long and functional future that really attracts, and the absence of bloatware. Gravelly voice: "Someday, all watches will be made this way".

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        I faced in 2015 with my £500 S3 "flagship"

        Which was three years old in 2015 and no longer covered by any warranty. Actually, consider yourself lucky because back then Samsung only really bothered to provide updates for about 18 months, safe in the knowledge that most people would want to move to something newer and shinier. That said, I think the reason for deprecating the S3 would probably be down to the lack of hardware encryption.

        However, it looks like LineageOS for the S3 is still being maintained: https://download.lineageos.org/i9300 and if 14.1 is available, 15.1 (Android 8.1) and later should be possible because it means Treble runs.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          for normal users then id agree but you are posting on el reg. its expected to root and install a non bloatware firmware on there. my wife has an s8 and she wanted me to flash it purely to gwt rid of the bixby button. luckily it can be remapped to camera with flashing....

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No Thanks

    I just got my hands on a Samsung S9 (Sprint) the other day.

    Facebook, Amazon Shopping, Flipboard "Briefing", Bixby and others are SYSTEM apps that cannot be deleted.

    Not only that, there are no permission controls controls for any of them.

    It does however receive timely updates because of the Treble Project but what good is having security updates when the device comes pre-pwned with system level slurp?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: No Thanks

      Always annoying but you should be able to disable them. Otherwise root it and delete them all. MagiskManager will you hide the root so it's all good.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: No Thanks

        does magiskmanager work well on s9s? it can be iffy on samsungs. it was fiddly with an s8.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Abandonware

    Samsung typically only supports their 'S' range, or at least they claim to. Oreo was released september 2017, my S8+ got it april 2018.

    Now the 9 is out, the update to Pie is going to be even tardier. Since they only do 2 updates, that's aal she wrote.

    Security updates are somewhat better on the S8+, I'm on September 1. The Tab 3D I have is still on the April patch, I believe.

    Anything below 'S' is going to get 1 update if you're lucky.

    I'm with the above posters as far as bloat is concerned. It borders on insane. I suspect Samsung tries to augment their meager sales income by charging crapware developer for the ride.

    I WAS contemplating an iPhone, at least I was before September 13.

    The S8+ will be written off soon, and I haven't a clue on what to replace it with. So quite possibly I won't.

    1. Fuzz

      Re: Abandonware

      The A series get the same support as the S. The A5 (2017) is on 8.0 with the October 2018 patch. It was originally released with 6.0

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Abandonware

        The Galaxy S9 shipped with Oreo, which mean it's built on Project Treble. This should mean issuing updates requires far less work from Samsung and its suppliers. But we'll see.

    2. K Silver badge

      Re: Abandonware

      "typically only supports their 'S' range"

      They're not too bad with the A series, my work one has received a lot of updates this year.

      Though, to be honest I personally would not own any Sangshite phone, I tend to go with OnePlus, Xioami (and Honor for family)... but this phone was supplied by the company.

  7. Lee D Silver badge

    - Non-removable battery.

    - Costs more than most cars I've owned (and they've always lasted longer than a year, up to 10 in some cases) and certainly more than I've ever paid for every phone I've ever owned collectively.

    - Four cameras? I mean.. .why?

    - No waterproofing or wireless charging - I'm cool with that. If only that had saved some money, eh? It's almost like it's a freebie that costs nothing that they throw in as "another feature" on all those other phones...

    Hell, I can't even justify the junk that is the J6 for £199.

    And they wonder why they don't own the market?

  8. gskr

    Its a nice looking phone, and if it were a bit cheaper I'd consider one.

    But at £549 I'd expect a 8-series Snapdragon or equivalent. If Oneplus can do it then so can you Samsung.

    I still consider phones to fit broadly in the following price ranges, despite certain manufacturers attempts to shift our expectations towards spending more (Apple/Samsung chiefly, but others too...)

    £0-100. Too crap to bother.

    £100 - £150 Low-end. Bad camera, not much memory, and low end processor, but can still be usable

    £150 - £300 Mid-range. Still fairly bad camera, but probably good enough specs in general for day to day.

    £300 - £450 High-ish end. Probably a good processor, and fairly decent camera. Flagship-enough for most.

    £450 - £600 Flagship. Should have a top-end processor, very good camera, and good everything really.

    £600+ Overpriced.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      But at £549 I'd expect a 8-series Snapdragon or equivalent.

      Return of the PC go faster stripes! The CPU probably doesn't matter for anything other than gaming. Some of the other goodies 6GB, storage and all those cameras, SD support (add £200 and it's an unexpandable I-Phone) are pretty nice to have. The memory especially will probably make it faster than faster CPUs with less memory.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        g6 play was 120. 3gb ram with a headphone socket and sd card. really decent budget phone.

        reviews had it down with camera issues but daughter couldnt replicate the review issues.

  9. dajames Silver badge

    Check the facts?

    Further down the scale the Galaxy J6 [snip link to Carphone Warehouse page] ... dispenses with the traditional microSD card slot

    That surprised me, so I checked ...

    Samsung's own product page says the J6 can take a micro-SD card up to 256GB.

    Probably still comes with Bixby and a ton of other non-removable crap, though.

  10. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Huawei v10 view

    Been using one of these for a couple of months. Very similar spec, charges in 45 minus, very little in the way of unwanted system apps. £419. Probably cheaper by now. Samsung have a lot of work to do to compete at that price point.

  11. Cuddles Silver badge

    Mid-what?

    £550 is mid-ranged now? Bollocks. My phone cost £200 over a year ago, and remains more than capable of doing absolutely anything a phone might be required to do. Just because the most expensive phones are now priced solely to appeal to complete idiots without even attempting to look sensible, that doesn't mean the slightly less expensive high-end phones have magically become mid-range. You can get a supercar for £1 million or more, but that doesn't mean a £200k Bentley is mid-range.

    Mid-range phones remain in the £2-300 region, with a bit of wiggle room at the ends depending on exactly how you want to define it. £500+ is very firmly in the expensive, high-end range. It doesn't matter if the most expensive phones cost £1000 or £1 million, that has absolutely no bearing on what the meaningful low, mid and high-end ranges are for normal people.

    1. Palladium

      Re: Mid-what?

      Xiaomi's Pocophone F1 is practically the US version of the Samsung S9+ without AMOLED, NFC and a weaker camera, but priced at a mere USD 300 shipped. Its devices like these that makes people wonder why Samsung even bother to makes anything but flagships.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. DenTheMan

        Re: Mid-what?

        and my cheese Sandwich is practically the Soloman Island's version of the iPhone X. But without the tech.

    2. Joe W

      Re: Mid-what?

      This. So much.

      Plus a "small"phone is now too big for me to reach across with my thumb...

    3. juice Bronze badge

      Re: Mid-what?

      £500+ definitely counts as high-end to me, but OTOH, the phone is unlikely to stay at that price point for long.

      At launch 12 months ago, my V30 was £800; when I bought it from Carphone Warehouse around six months ago, it was £600. It's now £460 from CW.

      Similarly, the Galaxy S8 was £640 when released in April 2017. It's now £377 new from Amazon.

      Generally, the market is so competitive that if you're willing to wait 3-6 months after launch, you can pick up an Android handset for around a third less than the launch RRP. And waiting for a while isn't a bad idea anyway - it gives them time to shake out any manufacturing kinks and/or software issues!

      Admittedly, that still puts this camera in the £300-400 price range, but it's definitely less of a hit to the wallet!

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Mid-what?

        I wait 2-3 years and a get all the once hot features for 1/5 the price.

    4. LochNessMonster

      Re: Mid-what?

      "£550 is mid-ranged now? Bollocks."

      Not when your flagship devices cost £870, it isn't. Prices from a High St purveyor of SIM-free shiny...

      Galaxy J3 (2017) = £129.99

      Galaxy S9 Plus - £869.00

      So £550 is pretty much the median according to the RRP. :-)

      1. doublelayer

        Re: Mid-what?

        So it's the median. That doesn't always equate with mid-range. Mid-range is a category that falls between low-range and high-range, which usually applies to what a normal person spends. Perhaps it'd be more accurate to do a median of the phones by how many of them were sold, which would probably be more like a mid-range phone. In general, however, a phone that is essentially identical to a $1000 phone and costs $600 is still high-range, even though it costs less. The internals are high-range, and the cost is high-range. If they downgrade the internals, the specs may become mid-range, but the price is still high-range and so the phone is just overpriced. If I start selling phones for $2000, it won't make Apple and Samsung flagships mid-range, it will result in nobody buying phones from me.

  12. David Gosnell

    "threat of SIM-only subscribers"

    That'll be the baked in battery then. Forced obsolescence – and don't go arguing about waterproofing etc. My phone manages a user-replaceable battery and IP67 rating.

  13. DenTheMan

    Headline says a lot..

    .. and in the real world we have 'Samsung makes the upcoming iPhone XR look poor and only for fans'.

    Battery, OLED, FHD, camera etc etc are all better on this, so called cheap, Samsung.

    Apart from the super fast processor, the A9 trounces the XR.

    1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Headline says a lot..

      Danger Will Robinson Sammy fanboi alert!! Im not convinced its that one sided.

      But face it - Apple could chrome plate a turd and sell it for a grand.

  14. thesykes

    Started reading at Mid range phone

    Stopped reading at £549

    I've had 3 smartphones and that's more than I paid for all of them put together.

  15. juice Bronze badge

    Potentially dumb question...

    This camera has a 24mp "main" camera, and a 10mp "2x" camera.

    According to the table on https://nmsmithphotoshop1.weebly.com/image-resolution.html, the resolutions for these sensors are:

    24mp is 6048 * 4032

    10mp is 3872 * 2592

    So if you crop the 24mp image down to 10mp, you effectively get a 1.5x zoom for free - and your photo will have been taken on a lens which presumably has better optics, stabilisation and sensor technology.

    Admittedly, you'd have to drop all the way down to 6mp (3008*2000) to reach the equivalent on a 2x zoom, but the same point applies from a technological perspective.

    Is there something about the 10mp lens which makes it measurably better than just throwing some digital zoom/cropping at the 24mp lens, or have the marketeers decreed that optical zoom is a must-have checkbox item, regardless?

    Either way, it'll be interesting to see how "cropped" 24mp photos compare to 10mp shots!

    1. fishman

      Re: Potentially dumb question...

      They should have gone with a 3X telephoto lens instead.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Potentially dumb question...

        its only free zoom if you arent filling the pixels with shit. A crap lens means it doesnt matter how many mps it has. smartphones hardly have stunning lenses.

  16. toejam13

    Sorry, no A-series for the States

    Samsung refuses to officially sell the Galaxy A-series in the USA, pushing people to purchase the more expensive S-series or much cheaper J-series phones instead. Buying a previous gen S-series phone could get you a phone closer to the price point of an A7 or A9, but then you're stuck with an older model that will probably never see another OS upgrade.

    Samsung does sell the A-series in Canada, and those models support most of the LTE bands used in the US, but if you purchase one off the gray market, good luck getting WiFi calling to work with your carrier or getting Samsung to honor the manufacturer's warranty. Some people have even reported issues getting their carrier to enable voice-over-LTE with "unsupported" phone models, so I suspect those phones will struggle with voice calls when legacy 2G/3G bands are converted to 5G in the near future.

  17. Zola
    WTF?

    Wireless charging should not be high-end

    The receiver coil costs under $2, much less in volume - probably sub-$. It's a joke that manufacturers use this feature to differentiate high-end products - it just goes to show they're running out of ideas. Or penny-pinching bastards. How long until Qi wireless charging is common on mid-range devices from more innovative manufacturers?

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Wireless charging should not be high-end

      How long? Next year. Not even joking.

  18. ecofeco Silver badge

    Excellent!

    I'll get most of these features on my next low budget phone in 2 years!

  19. Karlis 1

    Reg, staph, what are you doing?!

    A link from an el Reg article to ... CARPHONE WH0REHOUSE?

    I'll expect an in-depth positive reviews of Apple hardware (provided by their PR) next...

  20. DenTheMan

    Trusted is a bit of an OTT name but at least they are on track.

    https://www.trustedreviews.com/news/samsung-galaxy-a9-release-date-3579874

    Apple need not worry. Those on exnhorbitant contracts will get the XR, not the A9

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019