Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018) Review: A for Awesome?

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Is it a worthy mid-range contender from Samsung?

Right before the 1st half of 2018 comes to a close, Samsung unveiled a number of mid-range devices. One of them is the Galaxy A6 (2018), which has a close semblance to last year’s Galaxy J7 Pro in terms of its size, design, and its internals. Similarities aside, the Galaxy A6 (2018) gets a few key upgrades, which include front and rear cameras borrowed from the Galaxy A8 (2018), an Infinity display, and Dolby Atmos.

With its asking price of Php 16,490/$314, is the Galaxy A6 (2018) an impressive mid-range offering from the South Korean brand? Right before the Galaxy A6 (2018) is sold to the public on June 9, we used it as our daily driver to determine if it is indeed a good offering.

Samsung Galaxy A6 (2018) Specs
  • 1.6Ghz Exynos 7870 octa-core processor
  • 3GB RAM
  • 5.6-inch HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity display
  • 32GB of expandable storage (Up to 256GB)
  • 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear camera with LED flash, PDAF
  • 16-megapixel f/1.9 front camera with LED flash
  • 3G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS, A-GPS
  • Fingerprint sensor, Face recognition, Dolby Atmos
  • 3000mAh battery
  • Android 8.0 Oreo

Skinny, robust, and compact

While it has its similarities with the Galaxy J7 Pro, what makes the Galaxy A6 (2018) distinct aside from the Galaxy S9-esque camera and fingerprint scanner module is that it is one skinny phone. Comparing it to the Galaxy J7 Pro and the Galaxy A8 (2018), the Galaxy 6 (2018) has a slender aluminum unibody chassis that is close to the thickness of the Apple iPhone 6 sans bendgate issues.

What’s equally impressive is that Samsung managed to avoid any camera protrusion in the back in spite of a skinny body, and that’s a definite thumbs up. As for the aluminum unibody build, the Galaxy A6 (2018) has a solid one at that, it managed to survive an accidental drop with a minor ding (Sorry, Samsung). However, with the black color we used for this review, the Galaxy A6 (2018) is a fingerprint magnet. We’re not sure if it stays the same with the blue and gold colors, but we hope Samsung finds a way how to make its black-colored aluminum-bodied phones less prone to fingerprint smudges.

Gorgeous display, though we wish for a Full HD+ panel

In line with most 2018 Samsung phones, the Galaxy A6 (2018) gets a 5.6 HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity Display. The display change resulted in slim bezels and the shift to in-display keys just like the more expensive Galaxy A8 (2018). While Samsung’s Super AMOLED display is one of the best we have tested so far, we find the HD+ resolution a bit inadequate given its price tag.

Resolution aside, the Galaxy A6 (2018)’s display delivers as expected. We got good color rendition and decent viewing angles even when using the phone in direct sunlight. The auto brightness option is pretty snappy, as it adapts to any lighting condition on the fly.

Aging Exynos 7870 is still a performer

If Huawei has the Kirin 659, Samsung has the Exynos 7870 as its go-to processor for its mid-range phones. Even if it is more than two years old, it can keep up with the demands of a typical user. Scoring 62622 in AnTutu, this proves that the Exynos 7870 is still a decent mid-range processor in 2018. Paired with 3GB RAM and 32GB internal storage, the Galaxy A6 (2018) can do the usual multitasking, along with a few games in between.

Throughout the duration we used it as a daily driver, we barely experienced any lag—which is also a good indicator that Samsung’s Experience Android overlay is well-optimized. Another thing we like about the Exynos 7870 is how it keeps temperature levels stable even on heavy loads (ie. prolonged gaming).

Speaking of games, we tried out Asphalt 8, Marvel Future Fight, and PUBG Mobile with the Galaxy A6 (2018). Based on the data obtained via GameBench, the Galaxy A6 (2018) is capable of light-to-medium gaming.

With racing games like Asphalt 8, the Galaxy A6 (2018) is a performer. At high settings, we managed to get a median FPS of 23, along with 95% FPS stability, which translates to a smooth gaming experience.

 

As with Marvel Future Fight, it is highly advisable to tone down the graphics settings in order to have a smooth experience. When we tried it at high settings, we were getting only a median FPS of 18 and a rather low FPS stability of 46%.

 

It is all good news when it comes to PUBG Mobile. Using low settings, we got a median FPS of 22, along with an impressive 91% FPS stability. That being said, slaying enemies for that chicken dinner is feasible with the Galaxy A6 (2018).

Interesting set of bells and whistles for a mid-range phone

Aside from the fact that Samsung Experience has come a long way since TouchWiz days, the Galaxy A6 (2018) offers a few bells and whistles. One of which is the Dolby Atmos sound enhancement feature. While you can only use this with headphones, enabling it improves the overall sound quality. However, you have to use high-quality MP3s (at least 320Kbps or lossless) to fully appreciate the Dolby Atmos feature.

For the OS, the Galaxy A6 (2018) has an advantage over the more expensive Galaxy A8 (2018) as it comes with Android Oreo out of the box. Our review unit came with the latest security patch as well. You are also getting Bixby as well, though it is limited to Bixby Vision and Bixby reminders.

As for security options, you get both fingerprint and face unlock methods, giving you flexibility in unlocking the Galaxy A6 (2018). Like most phones that use only the front camera for face unlock, we prefer using the fingerprint scanner instead.

Cameras are good for its price range

Sporting the same camera module found on the more expensive Galaxy A8 (2018), we have more or less set our expectations with the Galaxy A6 (2018)’s overall camera performance. While you lose several features such as digital video image stabilization and hyperlapse, we managed to get decent snaps with the rear camera, though the 16-megapixel f/1.7 snapper tends to struggle a bit when it comes to low light.

As for features, you get a Pro mode, a Sports mode, and a dedicated Night mode if you want to get decent low-light snaps from the rear camera. For the 16-megapixel f/1.9 front camera, we got decent selfies—provided that you have decent lighting to boot. Like the Galaxy A8 (2018), you get stickers and beauty mode on the Galaxy A6 (2018) if you feel extra creative with your selfies.

Check out the photos we took using the Galaxy A6 (2018):

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Battery life is straight out impressive (if not insane)

While you only get a 3000mAh battery with the Galaxy A6 (2018), what makes this phone impressive is how battery efficient it is. Based on our test using PCMark, the Galaxy A6 (2016) scored almost 12 hours, which is quite insane. To give you some perspective, the Xiaomi Redmi 5 Plus scored almost 12 and a half hours with PCMark while sporting a larger 4000mAh battery. This ranks the Galaxy A6 (2018) as one of the most power-efficient phones (battery size-to-battery life ratio, that is) we have reviewed in 2018.

With its impressive battery life, one should not worry about the absence of fast charging in the Galaxy A6 (2018). As our daily driver, it managed to last us for almost 1 and a half days before we needed to top up the battery via its MicroUSB port.

Verdict: A good mid-range offering from Samsung

While it appears that the Galaxy A6 (2018) is the successor of last year’s Galaxy J7 Pro, the former gets several upgrades worthy of a mid-range phone in 2018. While we feel dismayed that it only came with an HD+ display, the Galaxy A6 (2018) is a strong contender from the South Korean company. Having features like Dolby Atmos, an impressive battery life, and a skinny aluminum unibody build, along with cameras inherited from the Galaxy A8 (2018), the Galaxy A6 (2018)’s Php 16,490/$314 asking price is pretty justifiable for a Samsung phone.

However, its asking price entails to the Galaxy A6 (2018) facing tough competition, as the Php 15k/$286 to 20k/$381 price range is one of the most stacked segments when it comes to mobile phones. Competition aside, we do think that Samsung will have good sales with the Galaxy A6 (2018), just like last year’s Galaxy J7 Pro.

(unbox.ph, http://bit.ly/2se7tQa0

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