Sam­sung Gal­axy A8

Tech Advisor - - Contents - Chris Martin

There weren’t many in­ter­est­ing new smart­phones at CES 2018 but Sam­sung has got a pocket rocket in the form of the Gal­axy A8. We were lucky enough to get our hands on what can be de­scribed as a bet­ter late than never Gal­axy S8 mini.

Be­fore CES, there were a few ru­mours fly­ing around that we’d see the Gal­axy S9 un­veiled at the show. It’s not a big shock those were no more than tales, but

Sam­sung did at least have a new hand­set to keep us oc­cu­pied. 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.

Price

UK pric­ing has not yet been con­firmed for the Gal­axy A8, though we ex­pect it to be some­where around the £499 of the A7 (2017). It will be re­leased in April.

De­sign

We’re glad 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 not far off the S8 in terms of look and feel.

It’s easy to con­fuse the A8 with its pre­mium brother apart from a few small things. The dis­play doesn’t have the curved dual edge but does have tiny bezels so most of the front is take 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 is no longer and the fin­ger­print scan­ner is on the back of the phone. It’s much eas­ier to reach and use un­der­neath the cam­era rather than be­side it, though.

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

It is a lit­tle thicker than both the S8 and 2017’s A7 at 8.4mm but 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.

It will be avail­able in black, gold and or­chid grey.

Dis­play

The screen is the main up­grade since the Gal­axy A7 as Sam­sung has, for the first time, brought the In­fin­ity Dis­play to the A range.

The A8 has a 5.6in 18:9 screen and as men­tioned ear­lier, this means most of the front is the dis­play and the home but­ton is gone. 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 2220x1080, but that’s still an im­pres­sive 441ppi.

You don’t get the edge panel then, but you do get the al­ways-on fea­ture, so the A8 dis­plays some in­for­ma­tion 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 be­fore, there’s 32GB of stor­age and a mi­croSD card slot for adding up to 256GB more. How­ever, there’s now 4GB of RAM which is wel­come.

Con­nec­tiv­ity and bat­tery life

Th­ese days, there’s noth­ing overly ex­cit­ing about con­nec­tiv­ity on a phone. We’ve es­sen­tially reached a sta­tus quo of features, fol­low­ing gim­micks like in­frared trans­mit­ters to con­trol TVs and the like.

So the Gal­axy A8 has the usual ar­ray of things 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. The bat­tery size is still 3,000mAh so we’re ex­pect­ing a bat­tery life of around a day.

Cam­eras

When it comes to pho­tog­ra­phy, it ap­pears that 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. On the front are 16- and 8Mp cam­eras, both f/1.9, and the main rea­son for this is so you can use Live Fo­cus. This gives you a bokeh ef­fect blur­ring the back­ground and you can ad­just the amount of blur af­ter­wards.

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. Sadly they don’t of­fer aut­o­fo­cus and are lim­ited to 1080p video record­ing. Pre­lim­i­nary re­sults look good, though.

On the rear is a lone 16Mp with a Gal­axy S8 match­ing f/1.7 aper­ture. It of­fers phase de­tec­tion aut­o­fo­cus and a sin­gle LED flash.

Soft­ware

The Gal­axy A8 doesn’t ship with the lat­est ver­sion of An­droid, but comes with 7.1.1 Nougat in­stead. We imag­ine an up­grade to 8.0 Oreo will ar­rive at a sim­i­lar time to Sam­sung’s other Gal­axy phones. Sam­sung’s in­ter­face is sim­ple and clean th­ese days, and al­though

there’s no ded­i­cated Bixby but­ton on the side, it’s a swipe away from the main home screen.

Ver­dict

The Gal­axy A8 is by far the best A-range de­vice to date and ef­fec­tively the Gal­axy S8 mini we al­ways wanted. Sam­sung has brought the flagship de­sign into a cheaper phone while keep­ing key features such as the In­fin­ity Dis­play and wa­ter­proof­ing. It’s an at­trac­tive of­fer­ing, but there are some amaz­ing phones avail­able at lower prices such as the OnePlus 5T.

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