The Samsung Galaxy A8 is the latest mid-to-high end smartphone from the South Korean firm, sliding in below the flagship S series and offering a strong camera experience and large, colorful display.
Launched just before CES 2018, but shown off for the first time at the show, it features a 5.6-inch, full HD Super AMOLED display, 4GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, 16MP rear camera, dual front cameras and a 3,000mAh battery.
There’s currently no word on the Samsung Galaxy A8 release date and price, but we’ll update this hands on review as soon as we know more.
The Galaxy A8 takes design cues from the flagship Galaxy S8, although you’ll note that it doesn’t have the same bezeless Infinity Display as its more costly sibling.
Bezels have been kept relatively thin though, with the A8’s body measuring 149.2 x 70.6 x 8.4mm. Coupled with curved rear edges, the Galaxy A8 sits nicely in the palm and doesn’t feel too overbearing.
The glass front and rear, and metal frame, give the Galaxy A8 a premium look, but in the hand the back of the device doesn’t feel as premium as the finish on the Galaxy S8.
Samsung has used a cheaper finish it and it is noticeable, but it’s not really a problem.
There’s a power/lock key on the right, and a volume rocker on the left, both of which fall nicely under thumb and finger.
Something that’s not quite as well placed is the fingerprint scanner. Yep, that’s right, Samsung’s continued obsession for poor digit reader placement again rears its head here.
A positive is the fact Samsung has moved it below the camera this time, rather than having it alongside the lens, but it’s so close to the snapper it won’t take you long to tap the wrong thing and smudge the glass covering the senor.
The fingerprint scanner itself is slightly debossed, which provides a little bit of help when it comes to locating it. With continued use, you’ll likely become more accurate at locating it, but it’s still annoying how close it is to the camera lens.
Samsung has retained the headphone jack though, and it sits alongside a USB-C port on the base of the handset.
An odd quirk is the location of the speaker, which sits above the power/lock key on the right side of the phone.
It does mean you’re less likely to muffle it when holding it landscape, but we would have preferred a front facing option to blast the audio directly in our face.
Samsung Galaxy A8 hands on gallery
The Samsung Galaxy A8 packs a 5.6-inch full HD Super AMOLED display with an 18:9 aspect ration and 1080 x 2220 resolution.
While it doesn’t have the same curved edges as the flagship S8, the Galaxy A8 still utilizes Samsung’s Infinity Display technology, which helps keeps bezels in check.
It’s bright, colorful and punchy, making it great for movie marathons and lengthy gaming sessions.
The rounded corners of the display are reminiscent of the LG G6, and slightly confuses the look front-on as it’s almost a hybrid between Samsung’s and LG’s design language.
The Samsung Galaxy A8 features three cameras. There’s a single 16MP, f.1.7 snapper on the back, while on the front you’ll find both a 16MP camera alongside an 8MP sensor.
Firstly, the rear camera is a solid offering that’s capable of snapping detailed shots, even in the low light of our test environment.
We were able to capture detailed, well lit shots in a variety of lighting and scene scenarios, with auto mode doing at good job of judging our surroundings and tweaking the necessary settings.
On the front, and the two cameras work together to offer the blurred background effect that Samsung’s calls Live Focus. It was first introduced on the Galaxy S8, and it’s good to see the technology cascading down the price tiers.
Live Focus on the front facing dual cameras works well in good light, but on the dimly lit casino floor (when in Vegas…) it struggled to pick us out from the background and properly render the background blur effect.
Power, OS and battery
The Samsung Galaxy A8 comes with an octa-core Exynos 7885 chipset and 4GB of RAM, giving you a decent slug of power under the hood.
During our brief time with the handset, we found that it wasn’t the snappiest performer for general navigation, multi-tasking and app opening speeds, but it may not be final software and we hope it gets a boost before it comes to market.
It’s in charge of running Android 7.1.1 Nougat, which isn’t the latest version of Google’s operating system, and that’s a real shame as Android 8 Oreo has been out for several months now and rivals are launching phones with it on.
The likelihood is that the Galaxy A8 will be upgraded to Oreo later this year, but it’s disappointing it’s not launching with it.
Meanwhile the battery is a reasonable size at 3,000mAh, which is the same size as the power pack found inside the Galaxy S8.
We’re hoping that the Galaxy A8 will offer a similar full-day of use from a single charge, but you’ll have to wait for our full review to find out if it does.
The Samsung Galaxy A8 is a solid smartphone. While it doesn’t break any new ground in terms of technology, it has a solid feature set and a premium look which may well tempt those looking for a high-end handset but can’t stretch to the price tag of the Galaxy S8.
Whether it does enough to compete with the cut-price flagships of the OnePlus 5T and Honor View 10 remains to be seen though, and the final price of the Galaxy A8 will likely determine whether it sinks or swims.
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