It's inevitable. The debate is on the table: do we really need a smartphone with four rear cameras? Does this fourth camera provide something that terminals such as Huawei's P20 Pro or LG's ThinQ V40, which have three main cameras, offer us? Is this release just a strategy of marketing from Samsung? There are many questions, and besides, it is not easy to answer them without having had the opportunity to fully test the photographic capabilities of Samsung's new mobile phone (something we hope to do very soon).
Even so, we have something in our favor: we know quite accurately the characteristics of both the optics and the sensor of each of the four rear cameras of the Galaxy A9. And, in addition, we have the experience of having thoroughly tested the capabilities of the Huawei P20 Pro which was the first smartphone with triple rear camera, and we also know what LG proposes to us with its new V40 ThinQ which follows the steps of the Huawei terminal also betting on a triple main camera. If we analyze all this information carefully, we can reach some interesting conclusions.
Samsung Galaxy A9: technical specifications
Before we review the characteristics of its cameras, I suggest we take a look at the general specifications of this range terminal High average. Its 6.3-inch Super AMOLED screen (although with full HD + and not QHD resolution), its 6 or 8 MB of RAM, its SoC with eight cores, its 128 GB of secondary storage and its 3.720 mAh battery clearly reflect that we are facing a terminal that aims to position itself above the traditional mid-range and very close to high-end smartphones. In addition, its starting price (599 euros) which is the one that had the high range no more than two or three generations ago, confirms it.
As far as cameras are concerned, in addition to the quadruple rear camera in which we are going to deepen then the Galaxy A9 has a front camera equipped with a sensor of 24 Megapixels an optician with aperture value f / 2.0 and, of course, the necessary autofocus. It is striking that Samsung has decided to mount a sensor with such resolution for the front camera, but it is clear that the South Korean brand wants to attract the attention of many users who like selfies.
|Samsung Galaxy A9  Physical dimensions||162.5 x 77 x 7.8 mm, weight 183 grams|
|Screen||Super AMOLED 6.3 inches|
|Resolution||Full HD + (1.080 x 2.220 px)|
|] Processor||Octa Core (2.2GHz Quad + 1.8GHz Quad)|
|RAM||6 / 8GB|
|Memory||128 (microSD up to 512 GB)|
|Software version||Android 8.0|
|Connectivity||LTE Cat.9, WiFi AC, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, GPS, ANT +, USB-C|
|Rear cameras|| Main camera 24MP AF , f / 1.7
10MP AF telephoto, 2X, f / 2.4
Ultra Wide 8MP, 120º, f / 2.4
Depth 5MP, f / 2.2
|Front camera||24 MP, AF, f / 2.0|
|Price||From 599 euros|
These are the four rear cameras proposed by Samsung in its Galaxy A9
I propose that we start by examining the main camera. It has a 24 Megapixel sensor and an optics with aperture value f / 1.7 which makes it slightly brighter than the main camera's optics of the Huawei P20 Pro, which has an aperture f / 1.8 , but somewhat less bright than the objective with aperture value f / 1.5 of the equivalent camera of the V40 ThinQ of LG. This data is interesting, there is no doubt, but we must not forget that the size of the sensor photodiodes, which are each of the tiny cells that are responsible for collecting light, is at least as important as the optics when it comes to take pictures in low ambient light without the noise spoiling them.
Now we go with the camera that is responsible for the zoom . It has a 10 Megapixel sensor, an optic with aperture value f / 2.4 and a zoom optical 2x, which places it if we stick to its flexibility at the same level of the equivalent camera of the LG ThinQ V40, which also has a zoom optical 2x, but a clear step behind the zoom hybrid with 5 increases offered by Huawei with its P20 Pro. Of course, the brightness of the Samsung terminal optics is the same as the equivalent optics of Huawei and LG smartphones, which, let's not forget, are decidedly high-end phones for both performance and price.
The camera's turn with the wide-angle optics has arrived. It has an 8 Megapixel sensor, an aperture value f / 2.4 and a 120 degree capturing angle which is not but not bad at all. In fact, in this last parameter it is at the level of the equivalent camera of the P20 Pro and one step ahead of the V40 ThinQ camera, which must conform to an angle of 107 degrees. In what the terminal of LG clearly exceeds that of Samsung is in the luminosity of this optics, which in the V40 ThinQ is f / 1.9. In any case, as I mentioned before, we need to know the size of the photodiodes of the Galaxy A9 sensors so that we can intuit the performance of this mobile in night shots or scenarios with low ambient light.
The last rear camera of the Galaxy A9, the fourth one, is the most interesting because it is the one that no other mobile phone has until now. It has a 5 Megapixel sensor and an optic with aperture value f / 2.2. Samsung calls it 'depth camera' because it is intended to be used in portrait mode and to provide us with ample room for maneuver when we decide to resort to background blur ( bokeh ).
To the fourth rear camera of this smartphone, which makes it different from any other phone, Samsung calls it 'depth camera' and is meant to allow us to play with bokeh in portraits
Although the South Korean brand does not has given more details about this camera, the fact that it has a sensor associated with relatively low resolution seems to indicate that could work in tandem with the main camera which, as we have seen, has a sensor 24 Megapixels and an optic with opening value f / 1.7. On paper, the information collected by these two sensors should, in effect, offer us an important margin of maneuver when playing with the bokeh .
On the other hand, it is likely that the lower resolution of the sensor of the depth chamber derives from the use of larger photodiodes and, therefore, with a greater capacity to collect light. If this design is confirmed, the possibilities of the Galaxy A9 in the taking of portraits will be very interesting because it could produce very good results even in low light conditions. In any case for the moment we must keep in mind that we are only considering the conjectures that we can extract from the characteristics of Samsung's new mobile cameras and from what the brand has revealed so far. They are reasonable assumptions, of course, but conjectures after all.
The greatest complexity does not lie in the hardware; is in the software
It may seem that installing four cameras on a smartphone (4 + 1 actually) is complex. And yes, it certainly has its difficulty because each sensor and each additional lens occupies space in a device that is already very complex. However, the biggest obstacle does not lie in the hardware, which is a challenge with which a brand like Samsung is, surely, accustomed to dealing. An exceptionally complicated component that also has a huge weight in the final finish of the photographs that a smartphone gives us is the software that must process the information that the sensors deliver to it.
The management software of the cameras is very complex, especially when two or more work in tandem
The Huawei P20 Pro is one of the terminals with more ambitious camera management software and possibly ] the associated to the cameras of the new V40 ThinQ of LG will also be very complex (we will check it as soon as this smartphone falls into our hands). One of the reasons that explains the complexity of this software lies in the operation in tandem mode of two or more sensors because the application must be able to collect all those data and process them in order to return the user a only image that combines the best attributes of the original shots.
I have no doubt that the Galaxy A9 will also have complex camera management software, but what remains to be seen is how much that fourth camera really adds value to what the best smartphones on the market already offer us Equipped with two or three rear cameras. Or, even, with a single camera. And is that Google has shown us with their Pixel that it is possible to bet on a single camera as long as the software that manages it is really up to scratch. From a technical point of view, the fourth camera of the Galaxy A9 does not look bad, but it has to show us that its impact on photographs is tangible. We will tell you in detail as soon as this mobile phone falls into our hands.
More information | Samsung