Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) and A8+ (2018) Review: Kicking Things Off with Straight A’s?

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From an A to an A+

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

Samsung had a stellar 2017 with the release of the gorgeous Infinity Display equipped S series of smartphones to the device that we crowned our Flagship of the Year — the Samsung Galaxy Note 8; not to mention a ton of noteworthy entrants to the mid-range segment as well. Just before we all went on holiday break, Samsung announced the newest members of their A series of smartphones — the Samsung Galaxy A8 and the Samsung Galaxy A8+ — and we managed to get our hands on them before their Philippine release, so we can kick off the New Year with these two new devices.

Will it be straight A’s for Samsung to kick off 2018? Or will it be an A for Effort? Let’s find out in this full review for the Samsung Galaxy A8 and the Samsung Galaxy A8+.

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) Specs
  • 2.2GHz Exynos 7885 octa-core processor
  • 4GB of RAM
  • 5.6-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity display; 1080×2220 resolution
  • 32GB/64GB of expandable storage (Up to 256GB)
  • 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear camera with LED flash, PDAF, and Video Digital Image Stabilization and Hyperlapse
  • 16-megapixel f/1.9 and 8-megapixel f/1.9 front cameras with Live Focus
  • 3G, LTE
  • Dual SIM
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC
  • GPS, A-GPS, NFC,
  • Fingerprint sensor, IP68 Certification, Samsung Pay
  • USB Type-C
  • 3000mAh battery with Fast Charging
  • Android Nougat
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) Specs
  • 2.2GHz Exynos 7885 octa-core processor
  • 6GB of RAM
  • 6.0-inch Full HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity display; 1080×2220 resolution
  • 64GB of expandable storage (Up to 256GB)
  • 16-megapixel f/1.7 rear camera with LED flash, PDAF, and Video Digital Image Stabilization and Hyperlapse
  • 16-megapixel f/1.9 and 8-megapixel f/1.9 front cameras with Live Focus
  • 3G, LTE
  • Dual SIM / Single SIM
  • WiFi, Bluetooth 5.0
  • GPS, A-GPS, NFC,
  • Fingerprint sensor, IP68 Certification, Samsung Pay
  • USB Type-C
  • 3500mAh battery with Fast Charging
  • Android Nougat

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

Built As Premium as Their Flagship Devices

In the hierarchy of Samsung devices, the A series sit in between the mid-range J devices and their flagship S series of smartphones. The Galaxy A series always had premium looks that offered up a little more oomph under the hood than its mid-range siblings. This year is definitely no different for the A8 and A8+. Both feature a metal frame and a glass back that make it resemble the Samsung Galaxy S8, S8+, and even the Note 8; complete with IP68 certification for water and dust resistance. Unfortunately, the glass panel on the back makes it a fingerprint magnet and will need the occasional wipe down though Sammy will be including a free clear cover with every purchase of the device that will help in that aspect.

They, of course, have one glaring difference from their flagship brethren. They lack Samsung’s Infinity Display.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

You’re still getting Super AMOLED panels at the 18.5:9 aspect ratio that measures in at 5.6-inches for the Galaxy A8 and 6-inches for the Samsung Galaxy A8+, but they don’t curve out to meet the frame of the phone; making the device handle slightly like the LG G6. Suffice to say, that the smaller dimensions on the Samsung Galaxy A8 may favor those with smaller hands but the allure of the 6-inch display of the A8+ is definitely there too.

Since we’ve sprung a full review of these two devices on you guys, it’s best that we do a quick tour of its button and port layout before talking about their displays.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

On the right of the device are the power button and a lone speaker right above it.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

On the left, you have the volume rocker and access to the SIM1 slot.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

On top of the A8 and A8+ are a microphone and access to the second SIM slot plus microSD expansion.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

Lastly, on the bottom is where you’ll find a USB Type-C port and the 3.5mm headphone jack.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

Behind both devices is a 16-megapixel rear camera that has an aperture of f/1.7 and is equipped with PDAF and an LED flash off to its side. You have the fingerprint scanner right below the camera and we’re really glad that Samsung has gotten the placement right this time around to make it easier to access, unlike the ones found on their flagship devices. The fingerprint scanner accurate though there is a noticeable delay in the unlocking process. You do have facial recognition on the A8 and A8+ as but it takes awhile longer to unlock the device, so we reckon that it’s best to stick to using your prints instead.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

Super AMOLED is as Gorgeous as Ever

There’s really nothing to complain about Samsung’s Super AMOLED panels. They’ve always provided a great experience for either browsing the web, your social media feeds, and even for binge-watching shows on your mobile device. This remains true with both the A8 and A8+. You have the same awesome color saturation and deep blacks that really make a difference when consuming content on your phone. Even though they don’t have the signature curves of Samsung’s Infinity Display, these panels still get two thumbs up.

On top of the display, sit the dual front cameras on the A8 and A8+, which consist of a 16-megapixel main camera at f/1.9 plus a secondary 8-megapixel camera at the same aperture with Live Focus enable for that artificial shallow depth of field. We’ll talk about the camera performance for the devices in a bit.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

Mind the Speaker Placement

Audio is equally important for enjoying your content and we’re happy to report that the speakers on the side of the A8 and A8+ do a pretty good job but could use a bit more bass to really round out the sound. The speaker can get pretty loud but it’s probably best to keep it at 80-percent to avoid distortion. Due to its unconventional placement, you’ll also want to mind where you put your forefinger when in landscape mode so you don’t end up covering it.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

Just the Right Amount of Zing

At the core of the Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8+ is Samsung’s homegrown Exynos 7885 octa-core processor that clocks in at 2.2GHz. The Galaxy A8 comes with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of expandable storage, while the Samsung Galaxy A8+ has a little more oomph with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage. Both devices are good for day-to-day tasks and getting some work done but you’ll definitely be multi-tasking a little better on the A8+ due to the slight bump up in RAM.

Let’s have a look at a couple of synthetic benchmark results for both devices. The first set belongs to the Samsung Galaxy A8, while the second belongs to the A8+.

Samsung Galaxy A8 Benchmarks

3D Mark Samsung Galaxy A8

Samsung Galaxy A8 Benchmarks

Geekbench 4 Samsung Galaxy A8

Samsung Galaxy A8 Benchmarks

PCMark Work 2.0 Samsung Galaxy A8

Samsung Galaxy A8 Benchmarks

3D Mark Samsung Galaxy A8+

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Benchmarks

Geekbench 4 Samsung Galaxy A8+

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Benchmarks

PCMark Work 2.0 Samsung Galaxy A8+

As you can see, you’re getting pretty similar results on both devices, which translate into real-world use as well but, as mentioned earlier, the A8+ will be a little better at multitasking than its smaller sibling. In terms of gaming, the two A-series devices can handle titles like NBA 2K17 or Shadow Fight 3 but you’ll have to bump down the settings to be able to get the smoothest frame rates possible.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ ReviewSamsung Galaxy A8+ ReviewSamsung Galaxy A8+ ReviewSamsung Galaxy A8+ Review

Same ‘ol Samsung UI

The Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8+ run on Android Nougat out of the box with the Samsung Experience UI on top of it. If you’re familiar with the Korean company’s take on the Android ecosystem then you should feel right at home. You’re also getting Bixby with the new A series devices though it’s been limited to Bixby Home, Bixby Vision, and Bixby Reminders.

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A Good Set of Cameras

As mentioned earlier, you’re getting a 16-megapixel camera on the back of the device with an aperture of f/1.7. It definitely doesn’t get the same quality as Samsung flagship devices but it’s a noticeable step up from their mid-range offerings. The rear camera captures really sharp details with great, natural colors and the aperture provides good depth of field while really helping out with getting photos in low-light situations.

Studio Lights. No Live Focus

Studio Lights with Live Focus

Indoor Lighting

Indoor Lighting with Live Focus

The front cameras do a bang up job as well. Obviously, you’re getting better results if you’re lit properly but the results in low-light aren’t that bad either. Since you do have dual front cameras, Samsung Live Focus is there to help get that artificial, shallow depth-of-field which has one of the better implementations of getting the bokeh effect.

If you’re feeling a little playful, Samsung’s Stickers also make an appearance with this device so you can send friends and loved ones pretty silly photos too. The Beauty Filters on the front camera does a good job too; just remember not to go overboard.

Samsung Galaxy A8

Samsung Galaxy A8+

Enough Juice for Day at Work and then Some

Powering the Samsung Galaxy A8 is 3000mAh battery, while the A8+ gets a little more juice with a 3500mAh battery. Both devices clock in decent times using PC Mark’s Battery Benchmark, which translates to about a day to a day and a half worth of power depending on your mileage. Both devices also have support for Fast Charging to have you up and about faster when you do have to top up them up.

Samsung Galaxy A8+ Review

Verdict: Great Entrants into the Samsung A Series

The Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8+ are a huge step up from last year’s A series smartphones. You’re getting decent performance, great battery life, and pretty awesome snaps with its cameras too; not to mention, all those internals are wrapped up as if these devices were of flagship caliber. You may not be getting Samsung Infinity Displays but they do have to separate the two lineups somehow and you’re still getting the excellent panels that Samsung has been known for.

Unfortunately, the Korean company is asking a premium for these devices as well. The Samsung Galaxy A8 has been priced at Php 26,990/$540 and the Samsung Galaxy A8+ has been given a price tag of Php 32,990/$660, which really puts these two devices in a pretty tough spot. We can easily see consumers possibly saving up a little extra to jump to the S series of phones or looking at other compelling contenders in the market. The timing could be a little off for these two devices as well since the Samsung Galaxy S9 is rumored to be coming out within the first quarter of the year.

Both devices should be available in stores towards the end of January.

(unbox.ph, https://goo.gl/D253Jd)

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