Gadget Enthusiast

The Samsung Galaxy A8: It's Pretty Good If The Flagships Are Too Expensive For You

  • Samsung will launch the A8 as a more affordable alternative to their flagship S8. 
  • It comes with speedy facial recognition and fingerprint scanners, except now the fingerprint scanner is under the phone, not next to it.
  • Its body is lightweight, small enough to fit pockets and sports a nice long screen. It’s also able to run high-graphic games smoothly. 
  • The camera is also able to do live background-blurring, and works well in dim lighting. Not so much in moving cars. 

When we think about Samsung smartphones, our eyes often turn towards the Galaxy S series, and for good reason. Besides the unfortunate placement of the fingerprint scanner on the new S8, it’s been a good run for this generation, despite mishaps of previous generations.

Now, the Samsung Galaxy A8 will be launching soon—with designs and features comparable to the S8. And it’s said to be the budget phone that will make the S8 pointless.

We did manage to get our hands on the A8 (2018) and gave it a little whirl. This is what we found:

The Look

Like most phones with a glass-based body, the A8 is a tad slippery. And to top it off, the phone comes at a lightweight 172 grams. So we would definitely recommend getting a phone cover for this baby unless you like dropping your phones, and breaking them once dropped.

At 149.2 x 70.6 x 8.4mm, it fits almost snugly into pockets, and can be held quite comfortably in your palm.

The screen is nice and long—18.5:9 ratio. It takes up most of your phone and is the biggest that the A series screen has ever been, which inches it closer towards the S8.

As per usual with the Samsung, colours are made more striking on its AMOLED screen.

Seems like Samsung learned from the mass yelling that came with the S8, because now the fingerprint scanner is located below the camera, not beside it. I still found myself accidentally getting the camera when trying to unlock my phone, but overall it’s a friendlier location.

A more thoughtful placement of the fingerprint scanner.
Do note that the cable is the new USB-C.

The Feel

When they said that some of the A8’s features would render the S8 obsolete, here are two big reasons why: facial recognition and fingerprint scanners are incorporated into the A8.

Setting up facial recognition was simply a case of holding out your phone as it scanned your face. For the most part, worked like a charm—with and without makeup (though I make no guarantees for all of you contour masters out there).

A small downside? I had to hold the phone at the exact same angle every time I wanted to unlock it. Since I set mine up at selfie-taking angles, it was a tad annoying, but an easily fixable issue.

The fingerprint scanner worked well too, but of course it did. Setting it up was a long multi-step process. It was well worth it though, because afterward, unlocking my phone was always a speedy process—even when my fingers were damp.

Once you’ve unlocked the phone, here’s how it feels like to use it:

The A8 comes to you sporting an Octa-Core processor (2.2GHz dual + 1.6GHz hexa) and 4GB RAM.

If that all just looks like a series of numbers to you, don’t sweat it, I got you.

Fun Fact: Octa-Core was developed to answer the public’s demand for longer battery life. So an Octa-Core processor is technically two quad-core processors. One “low power” core is used for normal use like sending emails or reading articles, and the “high power” one comes in when you turn on your camera or boot up a mobile game. This means that Octa-Core is not twice as efficient as quad-core, despite what you may believe.

To really put this phone to the test, we googled “graphics heavy mobile games” and downloaded one to test it out. The results do speak for themselves:

We meet again, PS2 graphics.

Even when hordes of zombies came bounding onto screen, the smooth framerate held on. In my books, I would consider that a pretty smooth gaming experience, though admittedly, I’m not usually too fussed about these things as long as the game works at all. Owning an older model laptop relaxes your standards.

The Cameras 

Trying out the cameras was a fun process. While shooting photos of things works well enough, the true beauty of the A8 is truly the selfie.

That being said, I wouldn’t snub the 16MP rear camera either.

The selfie camera, like many phones of a similar range and generation, comes with a dual front camera (8MP). This means that the selfie cameras are able to get wider shots and blurs backgrounds so that you and your squad stand out in your #wefies.

Dual front camera.

As a result, the live focusing is able to add some depth to your selfies.

Or you can use it to blur out the rest of the squad. Because someone’s ‘gotta be the Justin Timberlake.

One downside: the device doesn’t fare well with movement, so those car selfies will just have to wait.

An unfortunate car wefie.

Another fun thing to play with is the live Beauty Effect, which helps you either trim down your face, or make those eyes look bigger.

This is at maximum “sharp face” and “big eyes”, versus a no beauty filter.

It is a pretty small difference, admittedly. Then again, you won’t come out in your selfies looking like someone else, so there’s a plus point.

There are also built-in stickers you can play with which, unfortunately, don’t work in video form.

Under dim lighting, the A8 fares quite well. The photos still appear dark, but everything is still visible. Of course, Samsung always had a way with photography in dim areas.

Other photos we took include:

The yellowish lighting of a typical cafe.
Natural lighting.

Once launched, the A8’s price will probably hover around RM2,000 to RM2,400. The A8 (pictured in this review) will come touting either 32GB/64GB memory, while its bigger sister the A8+ will come with 6GB of RAM (instead of 4GB) and 64GB memory.

Overall, we think that this is a pretty solid entry among the mid-priced phones range. The camera seems to require a bit more finesse, but its other features and being dust/water proof over for 1.5 meter and 30 minutes are a nice bonus.

UPDATE: The Samsung Galaxy A8 is priced at RM1,799; the A8+ is RM2,499.

 

 

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