The Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) camera department is built much like that of the excellent Galaxy S6.
It starts off with a downgrade - the sensor has 13MP resolution (and it's 4:3 instead of 16:9). Other than that, the camera boasts a f/1.9 aperture and optical image stabilization. And like on the S6 you can just double tap the Home key to quickly launch the camera.
The A9 offers Pro mode, but it's nothing like the one on the S6. It only gives you White balance, ISO and Exposure compensation. Essentially, the settings most phones have, but in a more accessible arrangement.
HDR is split off into a separate mode instead of a toggle on the viewfinder like on the S6 (this means no HDR Auto mode).
A rare Anti-fog option corrects the reduced contrast you get in misty weather. The download option gives you some extra shooting modes (free ones only, the Paid tab was empty).
The 28mm field-of-view of the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) camera is as wide as the Galaxy Note5 camera horizontally, but you get a bit more room vertically.
The resolution difference isn't huge, but the A9 retains less detail per pixel. Part of that is the stronger noise reduction, which smooths away fine texture and foliage. There's more noise in general, even after the noise reduction.
Colors are slightly off on the A9, with a slight bluish tint. Dynamic range is narrower, so the shadows get less attention from the A9 than the Note5.
Shot-to-shot time is faster than on the A7, though HDR can slow things down.
The Galaxy A9 (2016) is better at selfie photography than its siblings (even the S6 and Note5) thanks to its 8MP camera (up from 5MP) and its bright f/1.9 aperture. It is slightly narrower, though, 24mm vs. 22mm.
And despite the higher resolution, the extra noise leaves less detail in the 8MP Galaxy A9 shot than in the 5MP Note5 photo.
A wide selfie mode is available when your friends are with you. It's essentially a panorama for selfies.
HDR mode is a good way to bring back some detail into the shadows. The A9 HDR shots have no noticeable processing artifacts, but the phone is slower than the Note5 and since the camera starts with less dynamic range, it ends with less too.
Despite the upgrade in processing power, the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) panoramas still have around 1,200px vertical resolution, compared to over 3,000px for the Note5. The stitching is good, but the lower resolution really limits the quality of the end result.
We waited until dusk and snapped a couple of comparison shots. Both cameras have OIS, allowing them to shoot at a slow shutter speed. Both have bright f/1.9 apertures too, keeping ISO quite low.
It's not all equal, though, the smaller sensor on the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) needed a bit more ISO and stronger noise reduction to correct it, which in turn reduced the captured details. The colors appear dull too.
The Galaxy A9 (2016) continues the head-to-head comparison over at our Photo quality comparison tool, where conditions are better controlled.
The Snapdragon 652 chipset was among the first in the 600-series to support 4K video capture, but the Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016) makes no use of that. Like the other A (2016) phones, it's capped at 1080p @ 30fps - no 4K, no 60fps here.
As you can imagine, the selfie camera is also capped at 1080p.
Anyway, the Galaxy A9 (2016) captures identical levels of detail compared to the Note5 at 1080p. The A9 colors are slightly off again and the narrower dynamic range is noticeable in the shadows.
Audio is recorded at an impressive 256Kbps, 48kHz. However, the A9 mics aren't as good as the Note's so the audio quality is lower.
You can download a Galaxy A9 video sample - 0:16, 32MB - and find additional samples of the A9 camera and compare it against others in our Video quality comparison tool.