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Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro Review: 6 Inch Super AMOLED 6 GB RAM Beast?

Samsung in recent years has been focusing on improving their mid-tier phones by adding features from their flagship to their mid-tier counterparts. Last year we saw the A series getting the water resistant features and now with the C9 Pro, we are seeing improvements in both the main and secondary cameras.
Samsung C9 Pro Review
Is it worth the asking price? Let's find out!

Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro Specs

Display: 6 Inch FHD Super AMOLED 1920 x 1080 resolution w/ 2.5D curved glass and Gorilla Glass protection at 386 ppi
CPU: 1.95 GHz 64 Bit Snapdragon 653 octa core processor
GPU: Adreno 510
RAM: 6 GB
ROM: 64 GB expandable via micro SD card slot up to 256 GB
Back Camera: 16 MP f/1.9 w/ PDAF and dual tone LED flash
Selfie Camera: 16 MP f/1.9
Battery: 4,000 mAh w/ fast charging
OS:  Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow w/ TouchWiz UI
Connectivity: WiFi, 3G, Bluetooth 4.2, LTE, NFC, GPS, A GPS, GLONASS, dual SIM (hybrid)
Sensors: Accelerometer, proximity, compass, gyroscope, light
Others: Fingerprint sensor, USB Type C, Cirrus Logic HiFi audio, Colors: gold, rose gold
Dimensions: 162.9 x 80.7 x 6.9 mm
Weight: 185 g
Price: PHP 27,990

Disclaimer: This unit was only loaned to us by Samsung Philippines for an unbiased review. Our review will be mostly about the phone itself as we only received the phone only without the box, documents and accessories. As such, we will be removing the unboxing section of the review.

Build Quality / Design

Metal unibody build

Samsung never skimps. unibody aluminum enclosure with curved glass, the C9 Pro is beautiful! It's also very nice to hold thanks to the curved glass and aluminum back that is anodized with a matte texture that helps with keep the phone from slipping through your hands.
Top microphone
The top has the Qualcomm 4G branding and the microphone for noise isolation
The bottom contains the speakers, microphone, USB Type C port and the 3.5 mm headphone jack!
The bottom contains the speakers, microphone, USB Type C port and the 3.5 mm headphone jack!
The left side has the volume buttons!
The left side has the volume buttons! At right the power button is located!

Looking at the design, the C9 Pro is metallic, slim, and elegant. It even has a nicer antenna band design, slimmer screen bezels, and not that protruding main camera.

High quality build, great style!

Button placement is what you would expect from a Samsung phone without the S8's Bixby button. The buttons are just high enough to be within reach given that I have short fingers personally.

Ergonomically, the phone can sit well comfortably in our hands. All the buttons and ports including the fingerprint scanner in front are easy to reach. What I like about this phone is the dual sim support and an micro SD card slot for maximum productivity.

Display Quality 

Big and beautiful screen
Big and beautiful screen

With a HUGE 6 Inch FHD 1920 x 1080 resolution Super AMOLED screen with 386 ppi, the C9 has the best screen for a 6 inch FHD display on the market today at this price range!

The resolution, color saturation, brightness and dynamic range is also stellar. We can not find a bad thing to say about it. Sure Samsung could have given it a higher resolution but that would place it at a higher price bracket.

It also has high midtier standard of 10 points of multi-touch!

Audio Quality

The C9 Pro has a single speaker located at the bottom of the phone. We would have liked it better if Samsung made it stereo, but that's not the case. It sounded full, with decent clarity. The bass is sufficient without overpowering the trebles and the mids. But, it isn't just that loud.

Quality of output is decent. Samsung highlights that the C9 Pro has a HiFi DAC for your great audio experience. The sound is loud w/ clean details and decent layering. Bass is strong with the sub bass lacking for our tastes. It is fairly loud as well.

For the microphone, voice is great for calls and decent enough for your casual voice recordings. 

Battery Life

For the battery life, it is difficult for us to give a proper review given that we only received the phone. We couldn't charge it with the official USB Type C cord and the stock charging brick which means the charging to 100% with a hub may or may not be the true capability of it.

What we will say is that it is Quick Charge 3.0 compatible with our Tronsmart charger and it charges the 4,000 mAh of battery within 90 minutes. It gets a little warm but it isn't as hot as our Samsung Note 5 when charging.

Given that we charged it with a hub, the battery life with LTE, Facebook, chrome browsing, messenger, text messaging and phone calls, the battery would last for up to 7 hours of continuous use. This is an average of our 2 weeks with the phone itself.

Again, take this with a grain of salt as being charged with the OEM charger is still the best way.

Camera

The 16 MP f/1.9 main camera

The two 16 MP cameras are the best thing about this phone. The images are stunning for what they are. We mean this with the main camera and the secondary camera. They both have a maximum aperture of f/1.9 which gives it an advantage in low light and when you want to create shallow depth of field shots with bokeh on close-up shots.
Camera interface and modes
Camera interface and modes

The main camera also has several modes like: auto, panorama, HDR, continuous, night, pro and food mode. I find the auto mode sufficient enough for most situations and for when it struggles I switch to manual mode as I prefer to be in control of all aspects of the picture. 

The speed of focusing is quick for both cameras but only the main camera has auto focus. What surprised us is its ability to focus very closely. We have an image below of a croissant donut from wild + flour where the phone was within three inches from the croissant donut and it focused accurately.

The HDR takes two pictures and combines them together to get as much dynamic range and it takes those pictures really quickly. This helps a lot and as long as we can keep our hands still, the HDR works well. This applies with the Panorama as long as we pan at level without too much height variations.

We find the camera to be superior to most of its competitors.

The quality of the main camera's stills is beautiful. At certain situations (not all) it can rival stills of higher-end smartphones. For low-light situations, this ranks among the finer phones we've held yet. The only draw back we saw with this camera is it's lack of OIS. But even without it, the images are stellar!

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight sample
Daylight sample
Close-up
Close-up
Another close-up
Another close-up
Lowlight
Lowlight
Lowlight again
Lowlight again
Flash test
Flash test

The secondary 16 MP camera takes wonderful selfie and where most selfie cameras fail are when you zoom in. The secondary camera has a nice beautify mode and has tap to focus. It can handle its own.

The selfie camera produces low light shots that can take your breath away at times. That f/1.9 aperture does its job though it is prone to some blurry pics on auto mode because it compensates by extending the shutter speed. The lack of OIS is apparent but this happens seldomly anyway. It isn't that great in lowlight though.

It isn't the best compared to the competition, but it is still decent overall. We only hope that Samsung can in their next generation of phones include ultra wide selfie cameras for group selfies!

Selfie Camera Samples

Detailed daylight selfie
Detailed daylight selfie
Indoor selfies
Indoor selfies
Groufie test
Groufie test
Lowlight selfie

See also: Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro: First Camera Samples

For videos, the main and secondary camera are again identical where it can shoot up to 1080p at 30 fps. IT may be prone to shakiness because of the lack of the OIS but the images are beautiful. The color, resolution and depth is just up there. We do hope it gets OIS next time. WE would not mind losing some MP for OIS.

Performance

Benchmark scores

Equipped with Snapdragon 653 octa core processor paired w/ Adreno 510 graphics and 6 GB of RAM, the performance is near flagship grade. It even has large 64 GB expandable internal storage for your files and app.

Benchmark-wise, the scores are high. But, it is 10% less than what the OPPO F3 Plus with similar processor got. Considering that the Galaxy C9 Pro has more RAM at 6 GB, its scores should be higher. These scores will no doubt be closer if Samsung will seed firmware updates to optimize the performance better.

It's snappy, responsive, and doesn't lag at all.

Anyway, the important thing is we never had a problem with the performance of this handset. Multitasking is fluid where loading multiple apps and switching from an app to another is easy. EVEN WITH CHROME!

Gaming is also close to excellent with the C9 Pro. We loaded NBA 2K17 with all settings at high and it was able to run it smoothly without over-heating. It did get a little warm after 30 minutes of gameplay. Frame drops are hardly felt as well.
Cleaner TouchWiz user interface
Cleaner TouchWiz user interface

This is the new TouchWiz which we like. The overall UI is simpler and easier to use and is less confusing. The only part of the OS that was confusing was the settings where Samsung still needs to organize all of it a bit better. They are trying though.

Touchwiz is better than ever!

Fortunately, the Touchwiz skin is bloat free. It is also feature rich where you'll see a lot of gestures and a security app where you can scan the phone for one-click tune-up. You'll also find a simple mode where it'll turn off all the other heavy processes and just give you the simple call and text phone interface.

You will also find our favorite double press the home button to launch the camera. Fingerprint scanner is also very accurate, fast, and works even when your hands is wet which is a huge improvement from earlier generations of Samsung fingerprint scanners.

We never encountered problems with signal and with connectivity. GSM signal is strong, LTE is stable, and Bluetooth is great while the GPS for Waze and Google Maps is accurate. 

Pros - Great build, fast and strong performance, fast charging is the standard, lowlight ready main camera, OTG ready, dual front cameras, accurate fingerprint scanner, USB Type C
Cons -  Marshmallow with Nougat update soon, no OIS for video and stills, lack of robust pro camera controls, no wireless charging

Verdict

As a selfie centric phone the Samsung Galaxy C9 Pro does very well with amazing image quality from both cameras. We just wished it matched the competition's wide angle lens and OIS for video. That is a small trade off for the price of a 6 GB RAM phone with 4000 mAh battery.

It does perform in benchmarks near the competition but it can match them in battery life even with bigger RAM.

Lastly, for audio, we hope Samsung will return to stereo speakers. The single one is great but having 2 helps when your hand placement is almost always where that one speaker is.

So if you can live with the minor faults, this is a no brainier for the price!

Build / Design - 4.25
Display - 4.5
Audio - 4
Battery - 4.25
Camera - 4.25
Performance - 4.5
Average - 4.29 / 5
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