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Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) Review

4 months ago   MPC Team

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) is the latest smartphone manufactured by South Korean company, which belongs to the upper mid-range category. The phone can be easily mistaken with the previous flagship Galaxy S8 due to the similar glass-and-metal styling and design.

Other similarities include edge-to-edge AMOLED infinity display, Samsung Experience interface and 3,000mAh battery. However, from the inside, latest A8 is the mid-ranger. That’s because it has a different camera and processor. The performance is also not same.

MPC Team spent a few days using Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and compared it well with Galaxy S8, and the main purpose was to explore how good this phone is and how well it can be compared with the previous flagship S8. So, read our review of the latest midrange smartphone by Samsung below.

In the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) smartphone
  • Fast Adaptive Charge wall charger
  • In-ear headphones
  • User manual
  • USB-C to standard USB cable
  • SIM card ejector tool

Design

Although Galaxy A8 (2018) looks same as the Galaxy S8 from bird-eye view, one can still spot the differences between the two. First thing first, A8 has got very big bezels, and hence they easily ruin the impression of a futuristic, edge-to-edge design. These bezels do not look close to good in comparison of S8. A8 also feels like is very big even when it is only a few mm wider and is barely thicker. What is obvious difference between the two when holding both in two hands is the weight, as A8 weighs 172 grams while S8 is much lighter with only 152 grams.

As far as the materials are concerned, A8 is made of metal and glass. In case of glass, there is Corning’s Gorilla Glass 5 used, which is the most durable and latest edition. On the other hand, the 7000-series aluminum metal is used with the matte finish, which is not in case of glossy S8. A noteworthy fact here is that glass back in A8 is not much slippery unlike that of many other aluminum phones. Therefore, the user will definitely have a better grip of this phone.

The buttons placed on two sides of the phone are also metal-made, and hence they feel nice to press and also feel clicky. The loudspeaker is placed on the right side, where as in bottom side, there is USB-C port as well as headphone jack.

Moreover, A8 will be IP68 certified, and hence it will survive in water. Our testing shows that A8 can survive up to 30 minutes in water as long as the water is less than 5 feet deep.

Fingerprint Sensor Position

The biggest change in case of A8 as compared to the previous A series smartphones by Samsung is the placement of fingerprint reader. In case of Galaxy S8, fingerprint reader was placed on a very weird position, as it was not in reach from the top and was placed beside the main camera. It was something for which everyone criticized Samsung. Fortunately, Samsung has this time improved the position by placing the fingerprint reader in A8 just below the rear camera. The shape of the scanner is a rounded rectangle, but this time is very easy to reach and is horizontal in shape. One can still say that it is still not an ideal placement, as it is very near to the camera, and one can conveniently touch the lens of the camera and press it mistakenly while attempting to unlock the phone. Still, it will be quite easier than that of S8 vis-à-vis unlocking the phone.

The fingerprint reader in A8 will not however be a fast one. The one in case of S8 was also a bit slow in reacting, and the one in A8 is also not that fast as is the case with sensors placed in OnePlus 5/5T or Google Pixel 2.

Display

Samsung Galaxy A8 will be featuring 5.6-inch Super AMOLED display. The display appears great with deep blacks and lush colors. This is called ‘Infinity Display’ by Samsung, and this marketing name is owing to its narrower and taller display involving 18.5:9 aspect ratio as well as almost bezel-less and edge-to-edge designs. However, this screen is not curved such as that of Galaxy S8. Moreover, owing to the flatter design, the bezels appear even bigger as compared to S8. Due to this, such a futuristic appearance is definitely lost and ruined.

As far as the specs and performance are concerned, A8 has a good display. The brightness level in this phone display also reaches the peak level like that of S8. Therefore, one can conveniently use it in the outdoors during daylight.

Color representation, however, is not quite good as compared to S8. Though the colors are not balanced perfectly, still you will have the colder whites. Like the AMOLED displays used in other Samsung phones, the users will definitely be able to choose different color modes through Settings > Display. Moreover, the default Adaptive mode will be helpful in producing lively, oversaturated and lush colors. However, if you do not like it, then you will be able to change it to the other available modes as well. In this regard, the basic mode will be the one, which will get closest to the sRGB standard, which the user might utilize if he intends the standard-accurate colors.

The user will further have the Always-on Display feature in this phone. The user is however recommended to carefully set it up, as it can take out additionally battery power too. So, the good idea in this regard is that the user should let it turn off automatically at night time. This can be done through Settings menu.

Interface and Functionality

Each year in new Samsung phones, we see the user interface designed by the company namely Samsung Experience, and we keep on considering it to be the same. The interface looks great, but it is not good enough vis-à-vis performance. Generation after generation, the TouchWiz curse goes on, and there is always a tiny sort of stuttering in Samsung phones. It however does not destroy the experience outright, but it does so considerably when you compare this experience with that of OnePlus or Google Pixel experience.

Things have fortunately gone better with the Samsung Experience 8.5 installed in Galaxy A8 (2018). In all honesty, there was a lot of improvement experienced in case of Galaxy Note 8, and A8 (2018) also appears to be optimized better with regard to software. During extensive usage, we did note that Galaxy A8 (2018) was doing a lot of new things at faster pace as compared to the Galaxy S8, even when the latter has more powerful processor. Samsung has however not yet achieved the same smoothness level as was experienced in Pixels, still we did see a significant improvement here.

Other than that, even when new phones are coming with Android 8.0 Oreo, Galaxy A8 (2018) will be by default running on Android 7 Nougat. This is honestly a shame. Samsung does have a plan for rolling out Oreo update for A8, which will arrive later in the beginning of second quarter of the year.

Else, Samsung Experience is a familiar-to-all UI. All of the options including unforgettable colorful squircle, well-categorized settings menu, swipe-up app drawer, themes selection, and customization are there. Similarly, split-screen multitasking, Secure Folder and KNOX security, all power user features are present there.

Processor, Performance and Memory

Samsung Exynos 7885 SoC is going to power the Galaxy A8 (2018). This chipset belongs to the upper mid-range class, which does not come close to Snapdragon 835 SoC however in terms of improved performance. As a matter of fact, it would still be better than the regular Snapdragon 625 SoC. Samsung Exynos 7885 SoC is designed with the latest 14nm LPP FinFET production process. This makes sure that too much power is not consumed. Moreover, it has 2x powerful Cortex A73 CPU cores, which run up to the speed of 2.2GHz and have 6x efficient Cortex A53 cores, which run at the speed up to 1.66GHz.

This has already been mentioned above about the improved performance of A8 (2018) with the daily tasks. Still, the installed chipset has remained unable to break any sort of benchmarking records. So, this cannot be considered as a phone for die-hard gamers.

Moreover, Galaxy A8 (2018) comes with 4GB RAM and 32GB internal storage, which is actually different for different regions and markets around the world. Also, you have a microSD card slot for expanding the storage in the phone. The internal storage is however small, as many phones belonging to the upper mid-range category come with minimum 64GB storage option.

Internet and Connectivity

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) has got 4G LTE connectivity along with the support of various bands. So, the user can travel across different regions and can enjoy good LTE connection. The supported bands’ list is as follows:

  • FDD LTE Bands: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 26, 28, 66
  • TDD LTE Bands: 38, 40, 41

Simply put, these bands will actually be covering all the carriers in Europe as well as other parts of the world. You can also check your carrier and see whether A8 is fully compatible with your assigned LTE option or not.

Moreover, it is to be noted that A8 (2018) is a DUOS phone, and hence it features a true Dual SIM card support. This essentially means that you will be able to use two SIM cards as well as a microSD card simultaneously.

Among other connectivity options are dual-channel Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth 5.0. It has also got the support for Samsung Pay and NFC.

Camera

It does appear that Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) looks much similar to the Galaxy S8, and it has a lesser price than the latter, but does it mean that two phones have got the same camera specs? Well, not so fast!

The clear and straightforward answer is, ‘no, it does not!’. Let us discuss the camera specs of A8 for a bit first. Galaxy A8 (2018) has got 16MP camera on the rear, and there is no dual camera presence here. This camera has got optical stabilization along with f/1.7 lens. On the front side, the phone has got dual camera system, which consists of 16MP and 8MP cameras, which are useful in effectively turning the background blur while taking selfies so as to get the portrait effects such as taken on DSLRs.

A8 (2018) has also got the familiar camera app such as that of other Samsung phones. It can be launched at the spur of the moment through pressing the home button twice. In order to switch between rear and front cameras, you will need to swipe the viewfinder option up and down. Moreover, if you swipe this option on left and right, you will be getting the filters and shooting modes, respectively. You will also conveniently be able to zoom in as well as out through dragging the shutter button up and down, respectively, which is quite a clean feature. Moreover, video recording will begin instantly upon pressing the red button placed right below the shutter. However, this video is a bit cropped and hence the user will not be able to preview the video composition.

Image and Video Quality

So, what is the image quality by the way? When there is a lot of sunlight in the outdoors, we see not much of a difference between A8 (2018) and Galaxy S8. It is still noteworthy though. The main differences come down to the dynamic range, balancing in the colors in photos, and overall brightness. There is a bit of exposition of highlights in case of A8. On the other hand, S8 has capability of shooting barely underexposed photos. One cannot consider the right approach, whether first or the second; however, we noticed that A8 (2018) is unable to shoot full range of scenes and highlights get burned in them, where as the S8 has been able to maintain the better dynamics.

As far as the video quality is concerned, A8 (2018) is fully capable to record the video of 1080p at 30 fps. However, many other phones belonging to the same price range are able to shoot at least 4K videos, which have more details to them. This means to be the biggest weakness in camera of A8. Still, 1080p videos do not look bad, as they still manage to support the optical stabilization.

Sound Quality

There is going to be single loudspeaker in case of A8 (2018), which is placed on side. Galaxy A series smartphones released in 2017 also had the same position for loudspeaker. The quality of the loudspeaker is also just above average. This means it is neither too bad nor too good. The sound is loud enough that it does not disappoint the users, but it is still not amazing enough such as the likes of iPhone 8 and X.

Fortunately, A8 (2018) will come with headphone jack, and hence one will not need to spend extra $80 to buy the wireless headphones. Bluetooth 5.0 is supported by this phone, but there is a lack of AptX HD codec support, which other recently released high-end smartphones do support through Bluetooth.

Call Quality

You will find it to be a good call quality in Galaxy A8 (2018). So, it will be easy for you to identify the natural tonality of the voice of the caller in earpiece. Sound will also be of sufficient quality and will be loud enough. There will however not be any complaints about microphone output too.

Battery Life

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) is going to have 3,000mAh battery, which is of the same size and capacity as that of Galaxy S8. The battery time and duration are also about same. There was not any problem experienced in case of full day usage of the phone, but it is still not a phone that could last for about two days.

According to the MPC Team’s battery life test, A8 (2018) scored 9 hours and 22 minutes. This means that A8 does beat S8 by about 1 hour and has a better ranking in the battery capacity chart.

Another significant aspect of it is the charging time. Sometimes, the user might need to charge the phone as fast as possible, e.g. during office lunch break. The good thing is that this phone will be featuring the fast charging support right in the box and it will take very little time to recharge the phone.

Our test showed that the phone got 13% charged in 10 minutes, 38% charged in 30 minutes and got 100% fully charged in just 1 hour and 35 minutes. However, A8 will not come with wireless charging support.

Price and Competition Alternatives

As mentioned above, Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) is a smartphone belonging to upper mid-range. Its price is about $620, which translates up to PKR 65,000. At the time of writing this review, the price is near to that of Galaxy S8.

Having said that, you might have many other available options as compared to A8 (2018) in this category. Huawei P10 and LG G6, flagship smartphones, have got better specs and camera features and have about the same price as that of A8. Even HTC U11 has relatively higher price than A8, but it has got a better camera and has better performance. Moreover, another viable option is OnePlus 5T, which also has got bigger display, performance and beefier specifications. Another affordable option is the Huawei Honor 9, which also provides 4K video recording option.

So, overall, A8 (2018) seems to be a bit costly. Historically, Samsung quickly reduces the prices of its smartphones belonging to mid-range category. So, we expect that the price of A8 (2018) would also decline sooner.

Final Thoughts

In retrospect, we can say that Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) has about the same price as that of OnePlus 5T. However, A8 is not quite good in its execution and is also absolutely costly. While the phone technically got the ‘Infinity Display’, still the users can check out the bezels on the chins and side. A8 also does not really have a futuristic and classy look as compared to that of S8. Though the phone has got dual front camera, still the main camera is not that good, which is also not able to record the 4K videos.

Moreover, there is a performance lag too. The phone is definitely good on daily usage, but practically it has got the mid-range chip, which is not a phone the gamers would absolutely fall in love with. Then there is only 32GB of internal storage, and that is not justifiable given the higher price tag.

A8 (2018) does come with the Samsung Experience UI, which is helpful in many functions and visual appeal, and with the help of Super AMOLED screen on the phone, the user will definitely have the vivid and bright colors. However, in an absolutely competitive market, we are all left out in the den thinking about the other better alternatives seeking us. Choice is yours; we will overall rate Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) 7 out of 10.

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