At the beginning of 2018, Samsung unveiled two new devices from the A lineup, and those devices are the Galaxy A8 and the Galaxy A8+ 2018. In 2017, Samsung skipped the A8, while other A series devices, such as the A3, A5 or A7 were in stores for three years straight. The A8 very much resembles the S lineup, but we mustn’t forget that it still bears the A mark.
This device should be in the middle class, but judging by the price, it might just not belong there. The A8 looks very similar to the premium S8, but with a slightly smaller display and no curved edges. The back panel was also redesigned, and now it looks more like the new flagship, the S9. That wrongly placed fingerprint scanned is now placed below the camera sensor, which is a much better solution. The frame of the device is built of aluminum, while the front and the back panels are built of glass, but this glass is prone to shattering, so we recommend using the device with a protective case. The A8 is ready for summer, poolside days since it is IP68 certified, meaning that it can last up to 30 minutes under 1.5m of water. Available color options are: Black, Orchid Grey, Gold and Blue.
Next to the device itself, inside the factory box Samsung included: user manuals, a SIM tray tool, USB Type-C cable, fast charging adapter and 3.5mm in-ear headphones.
The A8 doesn’t have your ordinary display. This device has the Samsung’s “Infinity Display” that has the aspect ratio of 18.5:9. This is a Super AMOLED 5.6” display that has very nice color adjustments, great reproduction and very deep blacks. This device is not curved towards the edges – it is straight which is why the device looks a bit thicker compared to Samsung’s flagships.
Due to the aspect ratio the resolution of the display is a bit unusual – 1080 x 2220, which should represent the FullHD+ resolution adjusted for the Infinity Display. The display covers 75.6% of the front panel, and all this together adds up to pixel density of 441PPI. The display is also protected by Corning Gorilla Glass, however, we don’t really know what generation of the glass – Samsung didn’t bother to specify.
All Super AMOLED displays built by Samsung are excellent. The options menu provides many things, and one of them is the color reproduction option. There are several display modes: Adaptive Display, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo and Basic. Advanced options are also available, and there you can manipulate the RGB influence. sRGB is sadly not supported, but the Basic option does provide something similar to sRGB. Maximum brightness levels go up to 590 nits.
The AlwaysOn display is a staple part of Samsung’s A series displays, which means that it is available on this device as well. You can either use it automatically, or you can manually create your own timelines for when to use and when not to use it.
Hardware and OS
Samsung Galaxy A8 is powered by Samsung’s Exynos 7885 chipset. This is a pretty up-to-date platform which includes two stronger Cortex A73 cores clocked at 2.2 GHz and two weaker A53 cores clocked at 1.6 GHz. We can instantly conclude that this is the big.LITTLE configuration, which means that the device uses weaker cores in standard operations, and the stronger cores when it needs to execute more demanding operations. The chipset is built in the 14nm LPP FinFET technology which guarantees lower use of the battery. Alongside this chipset, we have 4GB of LPDDR4 RAM which means that this device is very well balanced in the middle class.
The GPU built into the chipset is the Mali–G71 MP2, and it serves the purpose very well. Games have very stable framerate, as well as all screen transitions, menu navigations and HD content streaming – there are no problems for this GPU. When in comes to internal storage memory, there are two memory configurations, 32 and 64GB. 32GB of internal storage is not really enough taking into account that, out of the box, the system itself takes up around 10GB. However, all this is ok, since the device has a dedicated microSD card slot for storage expansions up to 256GB.
AnTuTu benchmark and Geekbench are often the best way to show what a device is capable of. On the AnTuTu benchmark this device scored 115120 points, while on Geekbench, single core performance reached 1531 points and multicore performance got 4356 points.
The speaker on this device is located on its right edge, and that is the only speaker. Sound reproduction is good, the sound is loud enough and we don’t really have anything bad to say about it, but nothing that good either.
The A8, at the moment, runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat OS, and Oreo update should come up in the first quarter of the year. Of course, since this is a Samsung device, there is the Samsung Experience user interface, version 8.5. This UI has a tendency not to be very smooth during the transitions, but the version 8.5 runs very nicely on this device. When you sign in to your Samsung account, there are many options to customize the user interface, which means that you can change wallpapers, themes, icons, etc. The split-screen function is also there, as it the Samsung’s KNOX protection and Secure Folder function.
The A8 is basically a device loaded with many useful options and functions, just as some flagship devices, so we can’t really complain that it lacks any. A device like this is unimaginable without “biometric protection” as Samsung likes to call it, so there are sensors like the fingerprint scanner, face recognition sensor etc.
Camera of a device is a segment that can be the most important thing in a smartphone for many users. Good display, waterproofing, they are just not good enough if the device doesn’t have what the user wants – a good camera. Luckily, this has also been taken care of, more on the front than of the rear side though. The main camera has a 16 MP sensor with the aperture of f/1.7, sensor size of 1/2.8” and the pixel size of 1.12 µm. It is also equipped with phase detection auto focus. The main camera also packs options such as Geo-tagging, Touch focus, Face detection, Panorama and HDR. As we’ve said, the front facing camera is much more interesting. Samsung A8 on the front side packs two sensors – a 16 MP and an 8 MP with the aperture of f/1.9.
The rear facing camera captures nice photos, but nothing too special. Photos made during daytime are very good, with good details and vivid colors, but we must say that bright scenes tend to be over-exposed. Still, it’s not too bad, so we can’t really say anything bad about the camera as long as it’s used with plenty of light. Low light conditions are different though – darker parts of the image tend to have high levels of noise and they lack details.
Things are getting better when we move to the front. “Live focus” paired with a double camera sensor provides remarkable results, the selfies are amazing even at night time since the cameras are great at gathering light. You can blur the backgrounds of images even after the photos have been taken. We must say that the front facing camera has left us speechless, and that it’s easily one of the best we’ve had a chance to see and test.
Available resolutions on the rear camera are:
- 4:3 – 16 MP and 8 MP
- 16:9 – 12 MP and 6 MP
- 18.5:9 – 10 MP
- 1:1 – 12 MP and 6 MP
The front facing camera offers the same resolutions.
The thing that somewhat disappointed us is the maximum FHD video recording resolution with the main camera at only 30fps, while other devices in this price range are well capable of recording 4K videos.
Available video resolutions are:
- FHD – 1920 x 1080
- 18.5:9 – 2224 x 1080
- 1:1 – 1072 x 1072
- HD – 1280 x 720
- VGA – 640 x 480
The main camera supports electronical image stabilization. Video stabilization is not supported in all resolution modes, while the front facing cameras don’t have any stabilization whatsoever. Video resolutions are the same on the front as on the back.
The camera interface itself looks like this:
On the top side are the following options: camera switch, full view mode, flash options and shortcut towards settings, while on the bottom there are options for a cleaner background, beauty effect, Bixby vision shortcuts, Live focus as well as stickers that this device offers. Below this menu there is a shortcut to video recording, the shutter button and a shortcut to the gallery.
Photo modes can be accessed by swiping the camera window to the right, and on the main camera they are:
Swiping to the left there is the effects menu. The front facing camera photo modes are:
- Wide Selfie
Our version of the A8 2018 is the SM-A530/DS which means that this is a DualSIM device, but not only that! On the side of the device there is a nanoSIM card slot, while on the top there is a nanoSIM and microSD card slot. This is a huge plus for Samsung since it provided a dedicated microSD card slot next to two SIM card slots, since this cannot very often be seen in the world of hybrid slots. The A8 has the NFC system, and file transfer is also available through the Android Beam. Another available function is the MirrorLink, through which you can mirror your phone’s display on your car’s display, provided that your car supports MirrorLink. This device uses the reversible USB Type-C port and it supports fast charging.
When it comes to wireless connections, we have:
- WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, double channel, WiFi Direct and HotSpot mode
- Bluetooth 5.0 with A2DP, EDR, LE
- GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS
- NFC system
Modem built into the Exynos 7885 chipset is LTE Cat.12 3CA that provides maximum download speeds up to 600 Mbps and maximum upload speeds up to 75 Mbps.
Supported frequencies are:
- 2G: 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900 MHz
- 3G: 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1900 / 2100 MHz
- 4G LTE: 700 / 800 / 850 / 900 / 1700 / 1800 / 1900 / 2100 / 2600 MHz
3000 mAh battery doesn’t seem like the optimal choice for a device with this chipset and this screen resolution, but we assure you that the things aren’t nearly as bad as they seem, on the contrary, because of the fast charging option, the devices charges from 0 to 100% in about one and a half hours, and the battery won’t let you down if you use the device normally. It can also be optimized in the settings menu to ensure longer battery life.
What is also interesting is that in the battery options you can turn off fast charging. This is a good thing if you’re using your device as it’s charging, since fast charging can heat up the device quite a lot.
Everything said and done, we’re left with mixed feelings. Samsung Galaxy A8 2018 really is a great choice in the middle class – the display, cameras, hardware and battery, everything is very well combined, however all this comes with a pretty hefty price. If you’re ready to pay the price for which you can buy even some of the premium device and you actually don’t mind it, the A8 is definitely a great device, especially if you like to take “selfies”, but if you’re seeking for something less costly, the A8 might not be for you.
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