A matter of size
Having a big smartphone has its advantages, like being able to hunt for Pokemon longer.
SAMSUNG is best known for its flagship ranges, namely the Galaxy S and Galaxy Note.
Interestingly, its relatively new Galaxy A series is also shaping up to be a respectable choice in the crowded upper mid- range Android smartphone market.
The Galaxy A range offers devices that look just as premium as Samsung’s flagship smartphones but are more affordable as they don’t pack the latest and greatest hardware.
Here we review one of the latest smartphones in the Galaxy A series, the A9 Pro ( 2016).
If you have been following Samsung’s recent launches, you will find the A9 Pro’s design familiar and consistent with its glass and metal design language.
A few people that I showed the smartphone to mistakenly identified it as a Galaxy Note 5, a testament to how similar it is in appearance to Samsung’s popular flagship from last year.
Another remark that I constantly received when reviewing the A9 Pro was about its size. With a 6in Super Amoled display, this device is not meant for long one- handed usage as it is rather unwieldy for those who have average- sized palms. Plus, with a weight of 210g, the device is on the hefty side.
For those who are not turned off by the size, the A9 Pro is an ideal device for media consumption and heavy web browsing thanks to the generous screen real estate.
Super Amoled screens have a reputation of looking a little too vibrant, but the technology has come a long way and you can actually tone down the colours in the device’s settings for more natural- looking colours.
A minor drawback that sets the device apart from other flagship smartphones is that the screen is “only” full HD resolution. While it is by no means bad, a higher resolution would definitely have improved the user experience for a screen of this size.
If you have two mobile numbers but do not want the hassle of carrying two devices around, the A9 Pro has dual nano SIM slots.
What is even better is that there is a separate slot for microSD expansion, so you don’t have to compromise and choose between either a second line or more memory like most other dual SIM phones in the market now.
Extra storage is not exactly a necessity for the A9 Pro though, as it comes with 32GB of internal memory.
One complaint I have is that there is no LED notification light to alert users of any new notifications.
Out of the box, the A9 Pro runs on Android 6.0.1 ( Marshmallow) with Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface ( UI).
Samsung’s TouchWiz has seen continuous improvement, and I was pleased with the minor updates I noticed over previous UI versions.
For example, you get additional options to share, crop or capture the remainder of the page immediately after taking a screenshot.
Samsung’s inclusion of 4GB RAM in the A9 Pro is generous, as this is the same as most of the high- end devices currently on the market.
I spent my time with the device doing lots of heavy web browsing and multitasking, and I did not recall any of the tabs or apps restarting when I came back to them after a period of inactivity.
The A9 Pro’s home button also doubles as a fingerprint sensor for security purposes.
It works the same way as the newer Samsung flagships, whereby you just need to have your finger on the button and press it down for the screen to unlock.
Although it detected my finger almost instantaneously, it failed to recognise my finger a few times. This is likely due to the size of the device, making the position of the home button a little less natural to press with the thumb.
The appeal of this device is undoubtedly its massive 5,000mAh battery. I usually never leave my house without my trusted power bank with me. During the duration of the review, I did not have to touch the power bank at all.
The device easily lasted three working days of moderate usage, which included a good deal of web browsing, Facebook surfing, Google Map navigation and YouTube binge watching.
Coupled with the fast charging feature, this is a device that you can confidently take out on a long day without the slightest worry of running out of juice.
So without a doubt this makes the A9 Pro one of the best smartphones for playing the wildly popular Pokemon Go game which is a bane to battery life. After a full charge in the morning, a full day of work with moderate usage, and two hours of Pokemon Go in the evening, I still had around 50% of battery life.
But the phone does get hot after prolonged usage so that’s something to keep in mind.
The camera app is easily one of the most frequently used smartphone features, so having a quality sharpshooter is usually high in the priority list when deciding on a purchase.
The A9 Pro has a similar camera interface as Samsung’s high- end smartphones, including the ability to double tap the home button to launch the camera at any point, even when the screen is off.
However, the quality of pictures taken were understandably poorer than the flagship devices. The images were decent when there was enough light but the camera didn’t perform quite well in low- light situations as photos turned out grainier.
Moving on, the A9 Pro’s speaker is good and reasonably loud although it would have been nice if there were two speakers instead of one.
In terms of positioning, I accidentally covered the speaker while watching videos on a few occasions as it is situated where I usually place my finger to support the weight of the device.
At a recommended retail price of RM1,999, the A9 Pro is definitely cheaper than Samsung’s flagships, some of which cost around RM3,000 nowadays.
However, it is hard to imagine anyone considering the A9 Pro’s price as affordable, especially with many cheaper alternatives for midrange devices from Chinese manufacturers.
What you can expect from the A9 Pro’s price tag is a device that looks just as good as Samsung’s flagship devices. On the surface, it is hard to tell that the A9 Pro is not one of Samsung’s flagships.
On top of that, the device boasts one of the best battery lives we have ever experienced on a smartphone.
Also, the size of the screen is ideal for long hours of reading, so it is a great companion to have for those who love browsing websites and reading e- books.
The only main area that can be improved on is the camera.
Sizable screen: the 6in screen is ideal for web surfing, social media, reading e- books and watching movies. Also, it features dual SIM card slots and an SD memory card slot.