After the tremendous success of its cheaper, metallic A series phones such as A5 and A7, Samsung is gearing up to launch a quad-HD variant, known as A9, at the end of this month or early in April, according to a Delhi-based distributor.
“They have seen tremendous demand for the A series, especially A7,” said the distributor, “and they are keen to develop the A series into a parallel product line below the flagship S series.”
This would make the A9 a direct competitor to HTC’s upcoming low-priced Quad-HD model, the HTC E9 A55, which will be priced below Rs 40,000 in India.
At present, the Samsung Galaxy A7 is the top-end version of the company’s A-series in India, and comes with a full-HD AMOLED display. The phone is perhaps the company’s biggest selling model in India right now.
However, with the top-end market shifting to the quad-HD specification, Samsung is keen to have a lower-priced model with a 2K display as well.
While normal HD displays have 1 mln pixels, full HD displays have 2 mln and quad-HD displays have 4 mln pixels. UHD displays have 8 mln pixels.
The distributor also said the phone could possibly be called the Samsung Galaxy A8, though he considers the A9 as the most likely name, given the odd-number bias that the Korean company has displayed in its naming pattern so far.
The information comes close on the heels of the launch of the Moto Droid Turbo, which also has an Amoled quad-HD display and is priced at Rs 42,000 in India.
However, unlike the Moto Turbo, the Samsung Galaxy A9 is likely to have the same size display as the A7 – 5.5 inches, said the source. The Moto Turbo has a display size of 5.2 inches, and is powered by the 32-bit Snapdragon 805 processor.
High-end phones nowadays are powered by 64-bit Cortex A57-based processors such as the Snapdragon 810 or MediaTek MT6795 or Exynos 7420.
Indeed, Samsung itself is scheduled to release its Exynos 7420-based Galaxy S6 early in April.
It is possible that the Galaxy A9 would be released in tandem with the S6 in India, said the source, but added that the Galaxy A9 could be released sooner than the S6 as well, as it is likely to be based on an older processor compared to the Galaxy S6.
The key selling point of the A9, like that of the A7 and A5, would be its price. The A7 was priced at Rs 30,500 — quite a steep discount to other full-HD, LTE phones from Samsung which were selling for around Rs 45,000.
So, while the Galaxy S6 will be priced at the usual Rs 55,000 range in India, the A9 will be priced much below — possibly in the Rs 35,000 range.
Such a price would help Samsung take on competition like the Lenovo Vibe Z2, which comes with a quad-HD display, but is priced at just Rs 33,000, and of course, the Moto Turbo.
The biggest competitor would be Quad-HD HTC E9 A55, based on a MediaTek MT6795 processor, and to be priced in India in the Rs 35,000 range. HTC E9 is expected to be launched in India by the end of this month, and Samsung will have to hurry to make sure that the A9 is there on time to offer competition.
Of course, to keep prices low, Samsung does opt for below-the-best sort of configuration in terms of internals. For example, the A7 comes with Snapdragon 610 processor, which is meant for mid-to-high level phones.
A similar compromise can be expected on the A9 as well, though details are not available as yet.