Sam­sung Gal­axy A8

Price: £449 inc VAT from fave.co/2xzyuDC ★★★★☆

Android Advisor - - Contents -

The Gal­axy A range of de­vices has come a long way in a rel­a­tively short space of time and now ef­fec­tively of­fers a cheaper and slightly lower spec ver­sion of the flag­ship S range, while keep­ing some of the key fea­tures and de­sign traits. Here we look at the A8.

De­sign

Sam­sung ditched plas­tic in favour for a com­bi­na­tion of glass and metal on the A range back in 2016 and that

hasn’t changed here. The Gal­axy A8 is re­ally not far off the S8 in terms of look and feel. In fact, it’s easy to con­fuse the A8 with its pre­mium brother, though there are a few small dif­fer­ences. The dis­play, for ex­am­ple, doesn’t have the curved dual edge, but does have small bezels, so most of the front is taken up by the screen. It has a 75 per­cent screen-to-body ra­tion com­pared to the S8’s 83 per­cent.

This means that, like the S8, the home but­ton has been re­moved and the fin­ger­print scan­ner is now lo­cated on the rear of the phone – it’s sit­u­ated un­der­neath the cam­era.

A small dif­fer­ence com­pared to the S8/S9 is that there’s no ded­i­cated Bixby but­ton on the side. We’re not par­tic­u­larly fussed about this, though.

It is a lit­tle thicker than both the S8 and last year’s A7 at 8.4mm, though it doesn’t feel chunky at all. It’s not the light­est phone at 172g, but again this isn’t a hand­set that gives a sense of be­ing overly heavy.

Sam­sung con­tin­ues to do a good job by of­fer­ing IP68 water­proof­ing (up to 1.5m of fresh wa­ter for up to 30 min­utes) and a head­phone jack. There’s no wire­less charg­ing de­spite the glass rear cover that, like most, is a lit­tle slip­pery.

The A8 will be avail­able in black, gold and or­chid grey colours.

Dis­play

The dis­play is the main up­grade since the Gal­axy A7 be­cause Sam­sung has, for the first time, brought the In­fin­ity Dis­play to the A range. The A8 has an on-trend 5.6in 18:9 screen. It looks great and

some­what helps jus­tify the in­flated price. It might not have the dual edge fea­ture of the S8, but Sam­sung has to keep some­thing for the flag­ship. Also, the res­o­lu­tion is slightly lower at 2,220x1,080, though that’s still an im­pres­sive 441ppi. It’s also brighter than av­er­age at a max­i­mum of 355cd/m2.

You don’t get the edge panel, but you do get at­trac­tive rounded cor­ners and the al­ways-on fea­ture. So the A8 dis­plays some in­for­ma­tion (there are a few dif­fer­ent lay­outs to choose from) even when the phone is locked – with­out us­ing much power.

Pro­ces­sor, mem­ory and stor­age

In­side the Gal­axy A8 is Sam­sung’s own Exynos 7885 pro­ces­sor. It’s a small up­grade on the 7880 found in the A7, still with eight cores but at higher clock speeds. It also has the Mali-G71 GPU found in the Gal­axy S8.

As pre­vi­ously, there’s 32GB of stor­age and a mi­croSD card slot for adding up to 256GB more. How­ever, there’s now 4GB of RAM in­stead of 3GB which is wel­come.

In our bench­marks, the Gal­axy A8 doesn’t per­form as well as we ex­pected. Rather than putting up num­bers sim­i­lar to phones of a sim­i­lar price, such as the Nokia 8 and Honor View 10, it’s around the same level as de­vices a lot cheaper. That said, this is a case of the phone per­form­ing dif­fer­ently in bench­marks to real life. We’ve found it suit­ably re­spon­sive and smooth dur­ing our time with it. The main im­prove­ment from the A7 is in the graph­ics depart­ment.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and au­dio

The Gal­axy A8 has the usual ar­ray of fea­tures, in­clud­ing Blue­tooth 5.0, dual-band 11ac Wi-Fi, GPS, NFC and of­fers Cat 11 LTE.

As you’d ex­pect, the phone has USB-C but re­tains the head­phone port, which is good to see. Oddly, the sin­gle speaker is placed on the side of the phone above the power but­ton. It doesn’t make a huge dif­fer­ence com­pared to the nor­mal po­si­tion next to the USB port. The speaker it­self sounds pretty av­er­age.

Cam­eras

When it comes to pho­tog­ra­phy, the A8 is do­ing things back­wards to most other phones. In­stead of hav­ing dual rear cam­eras and a sin­gle at the front it has the re­verse, so on the front are 16- and 8Mp cam­eras, both f/1.9. One of the main rea­sons for this is so that you can use Live Fo­cus. This gives you a bokeh ef­fect

blur­ring the back­ground and you can ad­just the amount of blur af­ter­wards. It works pretty well and is un­usual to find on a front cam­era. You can also switch be­tween them to ‘take the type of selfie you want’ – ei­ther blurred back­ground or not, but re­ally they are pretty sim­i­lar in terms of how much you can fit in the frame (76- and 85 de­grees), so you’ll prob­a­bly stick with the 16Mp op­tion for the bet­ter de­tail.

Sadly they don’t of­fer aut­o­fo­cus and are limited to 1080p video record­ing, but you do get Auto HDR. You can also play with the beauty mode if you care and there’s a ‘we­fie’ op­tion to fit more peo­ple in – it’s es­sen­tially a panorama with the front cam­eras.

At the back is a lone 16Mp with a Gal­axy S8 match­ing f/1.7 aper­ture. It of­fers phase de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus and a sin­gle LED flash. We’d like to see op­ti­cal im­age sta­bi­liza­tion and video record­ing higher than 1080p at 30fps, but, again, Sam­sung needs to sep­a­rate the flag­ship level.

Over­all, we’re im­pressed with the cam­eras on of­fer here. The rear cam­era of­fers de­tailed and colour­ful shots and also works well in low light. It’s at the front where the A8 stands out with lots of fea­tures you don’t find else­where for selfie lovers.

Bat­tery life

The A8 has a 3,000mAh bat­tery, which is av­er­age for smart­phones th­ese days. In our Geekbench 4 bat­tery test, the phone man­aged a dis­ap­point­ing four hours, 30 min­utes, with an ef­fi­ciency score of 2700. For con­text, the Moto G6 was able to go twice as long and scored 3516. Like the per­for­mance bench­marks, this is some­thing of an anom­aly as we’ve not had any is­sues with the A8 last­ing through a day of nor­mal us­age.

When it comes to charg­ing, the sup­plied USB-C charger of­fers Fast Charg­ing. Start­ing from zero, and you can get 39 per­cent from a 30-minute charge.

Soft­ware

The A8 doesn’t ship with the lat­est ver­sion of An­droid but comes with 7.1 Nougat, which is a shame. The in­ter­face is sim­ple and clean, and while there’s no ded­i­cated Bixby but­ton on the side as there is on the S8 and S9, it’s only a swipe away from the main home screen – this is in­stead of Google As­sis­tant. You can still use Google As­sis­tant via the app and we still think it’s bet­ter than Bixby, but there’s noth­ing stop­ping you from us­ing both.

Over­all, it’s a very sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence to the Gal­axy S range as you get pre-in­stalled apps from Sam­sung, Mi­crosoft and Google. You also get fea­tures such as Multi-Win­dow and Sam­sung Pay, and it’s the first A phone to sup­port the Gear VR head­set.

Ver­dict

The Gal­axy A8 is by far the best A-range de­vice to date and ef­fec­tively the S8 mini we al­ways wanted.

The S9 is here now, but that’s not too dif­fer­ent so it’s a sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion. If you’re look­ing for that Sam­sung style in a cheaper form, then the A8 is the right choice for you. There are, how­ever, some ex­cel­lent phones in the mid-range that of­fer a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence for less money such as the Honor 10. Chris Martin

Spec­i­fi­ca­tions

• 5.6in (2,220x1,080, 441ppi) Su­per AMOLED ca­pac­i­tive touch­screen

• An­droid 7.1.1 (Nougat)

• Exynos 7885 Octa pro­ces­sor

• Octa-core (2x 2.2GHz Cor­tex-A73, 6x 1.6GHz Cor­tex-A53) CPU

• Mali-G71 GPU

• 4GB RAM

• 32/64GB stor­age, mi­croSD up to 256GB

• Fin­ger­print scan­ner

• Rear-fac­ing cam­era: (f/1.7, 1/2.8in, 1.12μm), phase de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus, LED flash • Dual front-fac­ing cam­eras: 16Mp (f/1.9, 1/3.1in, 1.0μm); 8Mp (f/1.9, 1/4in, 1.12μm), 1080p

• 802.11ac Wi-Fi

• Blue­tooth 5.0

• A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS

• USB 2.0 Type-C 1.0

• 149.2x70.6x8.4mm

• 172g

The A8’s In­fin­ity Dis­play looks great

Land­scape shot

Low light shot

Por­trait us­ing the 8Mp lens Por­trait us­ing the 16Mp lens

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