The Galaxy A-series have grown so much in the last couple of years and Samsung is keeping the family afloat with a couple of successful models despite the fierce Chinese competition in the mid-range. Well, it appears that the Galaxy A lineup is mature enough to introduce a flagship smartphone of its own – the Galaxy A90.
What makes a flagship device flagship-worthy? Good screen, performance, cameras and features are all integral part of a true flagship device and the Galaxy A90 appears to have most of them in its checklist. So in a sense, it’s a flagship Galaxy A smartphone by mid-range standards.
Of course, Samsung isn’t trying to sell you a flagship phone with the Galaxy A90 but instead, it’s trying to bring 5G to the masses. As of now, not many SoCs support 5G and all of them are high-end chips so the best way to do it is to put one of them in a ready and somewhat successful mid-range formula – in this case the Snapdragon 855 in a Galaxy A70.
As you go across the specs sheet real quick, you will see that the Galaxy A70 is an almost identical device to the Galaxy A90 5G. The only difference is in the chipset and the main camera – the Galaxy A90 gets the popular 48MP sensor while the A70 settles for the 32MP one.
Samsung Galaxy A90 specs
- Body: Gorilla Glass 6 front and back panel, aluminum side frame
- Screen: 6.7″ Super AMOLED, 1080x2400px resolution, 393 ppi.
- Camera: Primary: 48 MP, f/2.0, 26mm (wide), 1/2″, 0.8µm, PDAF; Secondary: 8MP, f/2.2, 12mm ultra-wide, fixed focus; Depth camera: 5MP f/2.2; LED flash; 2160p@30fps video recording.
- Selfie cam: 8MP (1/4″ sensor), f/2.0 fixed-focus.
- Chipset: Snapdragon 855 chipset, octa-core processor (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 485 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 485 & 4×1.8 GHz Kryo 485), Adreno 640 GPU.
- Memory: 6/8GB RAM, 128GB built-in storage; microSD slot.
- OS: Android 9.0 Pie, Samsung One UI.
- Battery: 4,500mAh, 25W USB Power Delivery 2.0 charging support.
- Connectivity: Dual SIM; USB-C (USB 2.0), Wi-Fi, Buetooth 5.0, GPS, NFC.; 5G support
- Misc: Under-display fingerprint reader.
But we can’t shake off the feeling that the it’s a bit early for this phone. The 5G adoption is too small for now and anyone looking to be an early adopter will be aiming for the premium segment anyway. And besides, the Galaxy S10 is selling for roughly the same price, which is a true flagship phone, minus the 5G.
Expectedly, there’s virtually no difference between the Galaxy A70 and A90 in terms of design. Since the screen measures 6.7″ in diagonal, it’s easy to assume that it’s unwieldy, to say the least. It’s one of the biggest Galaxies around so users will small hands will struggle.
The curved back and the thin side bezels do help with the overall handling while the top and the bottom bezels are considerably slim too. It does give the impression of a high-end smartphone when looking at it from the front.
Interestingly, the Galaxy A90 uses glass for its back instead of plastic like its cheaper sibling, the Galaxy A70. The glass panel features geometric patterns giving it a more distinct look and the available colors are Black and White. The patterns themselves do look a lot different from what we’ve seen before.
The glass back is also a home to the triple-camera setup tucked away in the upper-left corner. It’s vertically stacked but the bump isn’t as prominent as one would expect. Perhaps it’s because the Galaxy A90‘s chassis is 0.5mm thicker than the A70’s making the camera bulge less prominent.
Unfortunately, we don’t have any information regarding the device’s frame but since Samsung didn’t say anything specific about it, we’d assume it’s plastic.
Hardware and features
This is not the first smartphone we’ve seen with Snapdragon 855 so we know what to expect in terms of performance. The SoC is paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage as a base offering and you can upgrade to the 8GB/128GB configuration. Strangely, microSD card support applies only to the 6GB model. The modem inside is Qualcomm’s X50, which is also found on the range-topping Galaxy S10 5G.
The device is built around a 6.7-inch Super AMOLED panel with a U-shaped notch. An extra tall 20:9 aspect ratio (1080 x 2400px resolution) makes the phone ideal for videos, web browsing and multi-tasking. It’s just a few pixels shy of the 21:9 cinematic experience offered on some phones.
On the camera front, we’ve got a 48MP main one with a rather small f/2.0 aperture and PDAF, 8MP ultra wide-angle lens with f/2.2 and a 5MP depth sensor. The notch houses a 32MP shooter and just like the main one, it supports native quad-pixel technology and outputs 8MP images.
This is one of the few Samsung devices with the 48MP sensor and our two main complaints are the narrow f/2.0 opening of the lens – rarely can you find even a midranger with a smaller than f/2.0 aperture – and the lack of OIS. The exact same camera can be found on the Galaxy A80.
Then again, the more advanced ISP on the Snapdragon 855 chipset could mean some minor improvements here and there. Speaking of the Snapdragon 855, it brings a couple of camera-related features that are only available on the Galaxy flagship handsets. Thus, the Galaxy A90 can shoot Super Steady videos (like the S10s and the Note10s), makes use of the Scene Optimizer and Flaw Detector. Of course, 2160p video recording in 30fps is also possible.
Additionally, for the first time, Samsung is bringing DeX support for its mid-range A-series with the Galaxy A90. Most probably hardware limitations have kept the PC-like experience away from the series but with the Snapdragon 855, DeX is now available over the USB-C connector.
While on the subject of connectors, the Galaxy A90 seems to be missing the 3.5mm audio jack from the equation. Strangely, the Galaxy A70 has one.
Lastly, the whole hardware sips from a generous 4,500 mAh battery supporting 25W fast charging in compliance with the Power Delivery standard. But don’t hold your breath for that one because the Galaxy A70’s charging times were far from the ones we got when testing the Galaxy Note10+.
Battery life should be stellar, given that the Snapdragon 855 has proven to be a remarkably efficient SoC and should be in the same ballpark as the Galaxy A70. However, when 5G is involved, since the Snapdragon 855 doesn’t have an integrated modem, the X50 is expected to draw more power too.
As we already pointed out, Samsung isn’t aiming at the premium-seeking users with the Galaxy A90 but instead, it tries to deliver a semi-flagship experience with 5G connectivity at a more reasonable price point, as far as 5G phones go. It’s by far the cheapest 5G option out there and it’s already out in Korea for roughly €685.
The price is surely steep and it begs the question of how bad you want to be an early 5G adopter? For the same price (even a few bucks less), you can snatch a full-fledged flagship like the Samsung Galaxy S10 or the considerably cheaper S10e. Of course, both are limited to 4G support and have considerably smaller screens. If 5G and big screen are a necessity for you, the A90 is the only option you have and that’s what Samsung is aiming for.