Manufacturers are jostling on the smartphone market for less than 130 euros and it is very difficult to distinguish one model from another. With its A9 Pro, the Chinese Blackview is trying to stand out by offering a dual photo sensor on the back, a function normally available only on certain high-end smartphones such as the iPhone 7 Plus. A good idea, but what gives the result?
No but halo, what?
The dual photo sensor in theory has two functions: being able to take artistic portraits thanks to the bokeh effect (artistic blurring of the background) and improve the zoom by combining a wide angle lens with a telephoto lens.
Looking at the characteristics of the A9 Pro, it is immediately unpleasant to discover that the first sensor is 8 megapixels, but that the second sensor is only 0.3 megapixels. A little light to serve the bokeh effect in portraits. Especially since here, it is not a question of reproducing this effect but rather of offering an easier approach alternative for an entry-level device.
We therefore reviewed this function by activating the Broken mode in the photo application. We will not talk about the general ergonomics of the device, which suffers from a lack of responsiveness and menu in impractical text form.
Broken mode is aptly named. In any case, it could not be called bokeh. If the use of this mode turns out to be very simple (if the subject is in the center, it is enough to take the photo), the result is far from convincing. Instead of a background blur effect there is in fact a kind of circle, of “tilt and shift” effect, which applies a blur with a trowel on the whole photo except a circle of sharpness, usually located in the center of the photo.
The subject’s face is therefore not at all highlighted, the effect is purely software and has nothing optical. We also masked the 0.3 megapixel sensor while taking a portrait and saw no difference in Broken mode! What is this sensor for? Mystery. In any case, the promise to enhance the face is not at all kept.
To make matters worse, the general quality of the image is very average. This is also the case for photos in standard mode, as well as 720p videos, which lack detail, or can even become blurred if there is not enough light.
The fingerprint reader is under the home button
The other distinguishing feature of the A9 Pro is the multifunction home button, which incorporates a fingerprint reader. When you’re used to the three-button system on Android, it’s a bit confusing and it’s hard to get used to the single button used to go back and also to the main menu.
Fingerprint unlocking is effective but we have noticed a lack of responsiveness when the device is in standby.
A very good screen
The pleasant surprise of the Blackview smartphone comes from the 5 inch IPS screen which offers a satisfactory definition of 1280 x 720 pixels, as well as wide viewing angles. Its brightness of 446 cd / m² is sufficient for outdoor use and we were pleasantly surprised by the excellent contrast ratio of the panel (1652: 1).
In terms of endurance, the results are mixed. We measured a score below the average for the communications review (only 10 h 35 min), but the Blackview smartphone is doing pretty well for versatile use (web browsing, photo viewing, reading videos, etc.) and takes just over 9 hours before needing to recharge the battery.
The A9 Pro is equipped with a MediaTek MT6737 processor (quad core at 1.3 GHz) with 2 GB of RAM, an amount of memory a little limited in the Android world, which will launch the current apps (Internet browser , Facebook, etc.) but you shouldn’t count on it to enjoy the lareview 3D games.
The device has 16 GB of internal memory for storage, which is not much. Fortunately, it accepts microSD cards. The smartphone runs on Android 7.0 and displays an overly invasive overlay that provides good navigation fluidity. We note the presence of a virtual button (Float gesture) which displays a function wheel on the screen to activate, among other things, the audio player, the video player, the game mode (the home button is disabled for avoid unexpectedly exiting a game) and play mode (the screen does not turn off). In use, this is a bit of a gadget and we doubt that it is used much.
Finally, the Blackview smartphone lacks originality in its very classic design, but benefits from a robust case and a rubber back. The latter allows to have a good grip but unfortunately takes a lot of dust.