The Umidigi A9 Pro rings all the bells and sounds all the whistles for a very capable Android smartphone. Released in late 2020, Umidigi’s current flagship packs a spec sheet that rivals some rather more premium android smartphones. At just $220, it’s also a flagship that’s easy on the pocket—reasons why I was excited to get my hands on the phone.
In this review, I will share what I’ve found exciting about the phone and disclose its other not-so-exciting aspects—the sort of things you might find hard to spot on the first impression. In the end, I’ll give a verdict as to whether you should buy the A9 Pro or not. Sit back, relax and read.
Umidigi A9 Pro – What’s in the box
The A9 Pro comes with the classic Umidigi packaging with some basic accessories in-box. What you get is a power charging brick, a USB-C cable, one clear TPU case, a SIM ejector tool, and the A9 Pro itself. Like most other Chinese Android smartphones in this price range, the A9 Pro doesn’t come with an earphone or a glass screen protector.
Umidigi A9 Pro – Design and build quality
As a flagship phone from Umidigi, the A9 Pro comes with some flagship-level design and build quality. The design architecture is glass-sandwich with glass panels upfront (as the screen) and at the back. The look is very similar to that on the Umidigi A7 Pro, and if you’ve seen that device, you’d know it’s one of the more premium-looking budget Android smartphones on the market today.
I like the A9 Pro for its sleek configuration and well-rounded edges. The phone looks and feels boxy but in a very premium way. If you’re good with cars, picture the boxy and sturdy look of a Range Rover, and you’ll get where I’m coming from. On the downside, it is a heavy smartphone to hold, very unlike the Oppo A93, which beats it in pretty much every department and still manages to feel feather-light.
Upfront the device, you’ll find a gorgeous display with a perfectly executed teardrop notch. Of course, there are very visible bezels and a prominent chin too. But everything looks and feels very proportionate, so no complaints here.
At the back of the A9 Pro, you’ll find a somewhat massive camera bump housing the camera assembly and Umidigi’s contactless thermometer. The bump protrudes out a lot but goes well with the overall design config of the smartphone.
Like virtually every other smartphone in this budget category, the A9 Pro comes with a plastic rim. It’s not bad; in fact, it looks very cool, but I fear for the durability of plastic.
You’ll find the power button just below the volume keys on the right side of the rim. Both feel loose to touch, and I’ve found the power button’s placement too low for comfort – most times, I end up pressing the volume down key when all I want to do is lock the phone.
Overall, I’ll give the A9 Pro a 7/10 for looks and build quality in the budget android smartphone category.
Umidigi A9 Pro – Performance and spec sheet
The Umidigi A9 Pro is powered by a MediaTek Helio P60 chipset. This processor is pretty much the bread and butter of the budget android smartphone market. It’s what you’ll find on the Oukitel C22, Oukitel C21, and the Cubot C30. On those phones and on the A9 Pro, as I’ve come to see, it does a good enough job of providing a smooth android experience.
Since getting this phone, I’ve not encountered any random lag or stutter. Apps open smoothly, and transitions are seamless. Paired to 6GB of RAM and 128GB of UFS 2.1 storage (you can also get this phone in either the 4GB/64GB or 8GB/128GB spec config), the octa-core Helio P60 on A9 Pro is also capable of some mild to moderate-heavy lifting.
Running games like PUBG, Call of Duty, and PES 2021 was smooth overall. I did notice a bit of slow graphics rendering when playing PUBG, but that’s to be expected; the graphics processor on the A9 Pro is not the best of the bunch, but it’s still good enough for a phone that costs just $220.
The above-par performance of the A9 Pro is also reflected on paper. On the AnTuTu Benchmark, the phone scores a healthy 159,264 points, well above other competitor smartphones like the Oukitel C21.
Umidigi A9 Pro – Camera quality
The camera department is one place where Umidigi flagships normally stand out from the pack, so I was excited to try out the A9 Pro’s quad 48MP main, 16MP wide, 5MP macro, and 5MP depth camera setup. Safe to say that the phone lived up to my expectations.
In bright daylight, pictures were flagship-quality with enough clarity and color-punch to pass for those taken by the more premium android phones.
The A9 Pro can shoot in five modes, wide(standard), ultrawide, panorama, macro, and portrait. Of the bunch, the normal mode produced the best pictures from my experience, although it’s fair to note that the Portrait mode did some fantastic shots too, and they came out with decent bokeh.
When lighting is poor, as would be indoors or after daylight, picture quality drops by a noticeable margin. It’s not that bad, and this is normal for smartphone cameras. What’s not normal is the lag and stutter that come to light as the camera software deals with more challenging shooting scenes.
To summarize, the camera software on the A9 Pro is not the smoothest, but there’s a new phone update pending install. Hopefully, that rectifies this issue.
The selfie camera on the A9 Pro is a single 24.8 MP sensor with a large F1.8 aperture. As was the case with the back setup, in well-lit environments, the selfie camera is excellent. The portrait mode churns out some interesting shots with eye-catching bokeh. You get enough picture depth, clarity, and color vibrancy to match what’s produced by the front setup.
The problems start when you move to poorly lit scenes. Unlike with the back-camera setup where the drop was from very good to good – with the selfie camera, the drop is from very good to bad. Indoors, photos appear washed out and overexposed, but I have a feeling this is more of a software bug than it is a hardware issue. I reckon with some optimization, the quality will improve. Again, looking up to that update.
Umidigi A9 Pro – Display quality
Umidigi chose a full HD (1080 x 2340) display for the A9 Pro. On first impressions, it looks good. It’s an IPS panel with a pixel density of 406 PPI and a screen refresh rate of 60Hz – pretty standard screen config for a device in this price bracket.
Images look good. I could not make out any individual pixels, and the color quality is okayish – it certainly lacks the depth, vibrance, and pitch-blacks you’d get from an AMOLED panel or from the IPS screen on the Cubot C30, but it fits the bill on the A9 Pro. The screen is also very bright, and I reckon you won’t have any issues using it on a shiny summer afternoon.
Umidigi A9 Pro – Battery capacity
The A9 Pro draws power from a 4150 mAh Li-ion battery that struggles to power the phone through a full day of use in my experience. It can go a full day if you limit just how much you use the phone – any heavy lifting of the sort seems to drain the battery disproportionately.
Surprisingly (for a flagship), the A9 Pro doesn’t come with a fast charger. What you get is the same 10W charger you find in virtually every other budget Chinese smartphone, including lowly priced options like the A7S or the iTel S16.
Consequently, it takes upwards of 2 hours to get this phone from 0 – 100%. I plugged the phone into a fast-charging brick that came with my Oppo A93, and that charging time was considerably shortened, confirmation that the A9 Pro actually supports fast-charging, Umidigi decided not to include a fast-charging brick to cut costs probably.
Umidigi A9 Pro – Extras
The Umidigi A9 Pro comes with a slew of features including:
A USB C charging port
Pretty much every smartphone in this price category now comes with USB C as standard, so no surprises here. The only downside is that Umidigi didn’t leverage this to include a fast-charger in-box.
The A9 Pro, like most of Umidigi’s more recent smartphones, comes with an extra physical button on the right edge. You can map this button to a variety of smartphone functions you want – from Google assistant to launching the camera, etc. I think it’s a really cool feature.
A fingerprint sensor/face recognition software
Of course, the A9 Pro comes with a fingerprint sensor. It’s centered at the back of the phone in a position that’s easy and convenient to reach from my experience. Facial recognition tech is pretty much the same stuff you’d get from other smartphones in this price range. Both the fingerprint and facial recognition work as intended.
A contactless thermometer
Of all the extras, this is probably the one that stands out best: an infrared thermometer located on the camera bump. Umidigi claims you can use this to accurately take body temperature readings. It did take fairly accurate readings in practice, and considering we’re still battling the coronavirus pandemic, this could be a handy feature.
Umidigi A9 Pro – Pricing and availability
$220 is the price you have to pay to get the 6GB RAM/126GB variant. The price drops to $180 if you settle for the 4GB/64GB version and rises to $240 if you want the 8GB/128GB variant. By all standards, these are all great bargains. The phone is available on major dealers like AliExpress, BangGood, and co.
What’s not to like
Overall, there’s little to hate about the Umidigi A9 Pro the phone delivers where it matters most. I guess two things that stand out are the build quality and the non-inclusion of a fast charger.
In-hand the A9 Pro feels very heavy, heavier than most other competing smartphones. The A9 Pro’s rim also feels too plastic for comfort. However, if you put these two things aside, it’s an excellent build at a very affordable price point.
Bottom line – should you buy the Umidigi A9 Pro
|What you’ll like on the Umidigi A9 Pro||What’s not so nice on the Umidigi A9 Pro|
|Great design||No fast charger|
|Excellent camera||Somewhat heavy build|
|Top-notch performance for the price|
|Extra customizable button|
For a $220 phone, the Umidigi A9 Pro pans out to be a great bargain. While it could use some improvement in the build quality front, design-wise, it’s excellent. In the camera department, it ticks all the relevant checkboxes, and on the performance front, it’s no slouch either. It’s an excellent phone overall, and I recommend it to anyone who wants an Android phone that provides top-tier value for money spent.