Samsung has just announced the Galaxy A9, a mid-range smartphone notable for featuring a grand total of four cameras on its back. The handset is part of a new strategy from the company in which it’s attempting to introduce features on its mid-range devices first in order to appeal to developing markets and a younger audience in the West who are priced out of flagship devices.
Each of the four cameras on the rear of the device serve a different purpose. The first is the device’s main 24MP f/1.7 camera, the second is an 8MP f/2.4 camera with an ultra-wide 120-degree lens, the third is a telephoto f/2.4 lens with 2x optical zoom backed by a 10 megapixel sensor, and the fourth is a 5 megapixel f/2.2 camera that enables depth-of-field effects.
Aside from this four-camera array, the phone is equipped with a fairly typical set of mid-range internals, namely a Snapdragon 660 processor flanked by 6GB of RAM and powered by a 3,800mAh battery. There’s 128GB of internal memory, a microSD card slot that supports up to 512GB of external memory, and it also has a 3.5mm headphone jack and side-mounted fingerprint scanner. The screen is a 6.3-inch Full HD+ panel, with a resolution of 2220 x 1080. The noteworthy aspect of this device is its camera array, and Samsung’s presentation reflected this.
The Galaxy A9 is the first visible evidence of Samsung’s new mid-range mobile strategy. Speaking recently to CNBC, Samsung Mobile CEO DJ Koh said, “In the past, I brought the new technology and differentiation to the flagship model and then moved to the mid-end. But I have changed my strategy this year to bring technology and differentiation points starting from the mid-end.”
There’s a reason why new features have historically tended to debut on flagship devices which, with their high profit margins, are able to support the kinds of R&D costs that these new technologies take to develop. However, in recent years this area of the market has slowed as updates have become more incremental and give people fewer reasons to upgrade.
In May, Gartner analysts noted a Samsung slowdown in the face of aggressively-priced handsets from Chinese brands that are taking more market share in the midtier. Eye-catching features and new technologies (like in-display fingerprint sensors) from these companies are appearing on even their mid-range handsets, making them attractive to the kinds of segments Samsung wants to focus on. The Galaxy A9’s launch event was held in Malaysia, further differentiating it from the high-profile Western launches of flagship devices like the Galaxy Note 9.
The Galaxy A9, with its eye-catching array of cameras, is an interesting sign of the company’s direction. It’s unclear whether the feature will eventually make its way to a flagship phone, but it’s already managed to get the handset a level of attention normally reserved for Samsung’s more expensive devices.
The A9 joins the cheaper Galaxy A7, which launched a couple of weeks ago with less powerful hardware, a slightly smaller screen, and ‘only’ three cameras on its back.
The Samsung Galaxy A9 will retail for €599 in mainland Europe and £549 in the UK (roughly $724) and will be releasing in November.