With a dual front-facing camera and an Infinity Edge display, Samsung’s Galaxy A8 sets its sights on the OnePlus 5T
The annual CES tech fair isn’t usually a big show for smartphones. The bug guns usually hold off for MWC in February to launch their flagship handsets but you usually get the odd new phone and this year’s big CES phone is the Samsung Galaxy A8.
Standout features of this 5.6in phone are a dual front-facing camera for selfies and one of those new extra-wide aspect displays. These additions are a first for the Galaxy A-series.
Samsung Galaxy A8 hands-on: Key specs
- Display: 5.6in FHD+ (1,080 x 2,220) Super AMOLED, 18.5:9 aspect ratio, 441 ppi density
- Processor: 2.4Ghz octa-core Exynos 7885
- RAM: 4GB
- Storage: 32GB (global), 64GB (Middle East, Brazil); up to 256GB via microSD card
- Rear camera: 16-megapixel f/1.7 with phase detect autofocus (PDAF)
- Front camera: dual 16 and 8 megapixel f/1.9
- SIM: Single SIM (Nano-SIM) in Europe, Dual SIM (Nano-SIM) rest of the world
- Dimensions: 71 x 8.4 x 149mm (WDH)
- Weight: 172g
- Android: 7.1.1 with Samsung TouchWiz
- Battery: 3,000mAh
- Other: Fast charging, 3.5mm headphone jack, USB Type-C
Samsung Galaxy A8 hands-on: UK price and release date
Unfortunately, Samsung hasn’t revealed a UK price for the A8 yet but that’s not going to stop me taking an educated guess. You can pick up 2017’s Galaxy A7 for £355, so I expect the Galaxy A8 to fetch a higher price because of its edge-to-edge sceen.
Its starting price likely won’t be as high as the Samsung Galaxy S8 when it first launched, so I’d say it’s likely the A8 will launch at a similar price to the OnePlus 5T, at around £450. As for its release date, the A8 will launch in April 2018.
Samsung Galaxy A8 hands-on: Specifications
The Samsung Galaxy A8 is equipped with a 5.6in, 1,080 x 2,220 Super AMOLED display, 4GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, expandable up to 256GB via microSD. Powering the handset is a 2.4Ghz octa-core Exynos 7885 processor. The phone also houses a 3,000mAh battery.
I wasn’t able to put it through its paces with benchmarks but on first impression the phone felt snappy and responsive and was able to handle light multitasking without slowing down.
As for software, the Samsung Galaxy A8 runs on Android 7.1.1 with Samsung’s TouchWiz overlay on top. That’s right, this 2018 smartphone doesn’t have Android 8 Oreo, a rather particular decision given most budget and mid-range smartphones now come with Google’s latest operating system.
Camera-wise, the A8 has a 16-megapixel f/1.7 unit at the rear complete with phase-detect autofocus, alongside dual f/1.9 cameras on the front, a bit like the new Sony Xperia XA2 and XA2 Ultra. The main front-facing camera is a 16-megapixel snapper sits while the secondary one runs at 8 megapixels. The secondary camera is used for depth detection, which allows you to live-preview a selfie with the portrait bokeh effect.
As for video recordings, both front and rear cameras can record up to 1080P at 30fps with, surprisingly, no support for 4K.
Samsung Galaxy A8 hands-on: Design and key features
In a first for the A-series range, or anything outside of Samsung’s flagships for that matter, 2018’s Galaxy A8 has a 5.6in edge-to-edge display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio. The bezels aren’t quite as slim as they are on the Samsung Galaxy range, though, with a distinct black border still running around the edges of the screen. In fact the front of the phone is more reminiscent of the Google Pixel 2 XL than Samsung’s more glitzey brethren.
It’s more familiar from the rear, though. Where you’ll see the now-familiar square camera housing; what’s different, though, is that the fingerprint reader is now sensibly located, just below the camera instead of to the right as it is on the Galaxy S8, S8 Plus and Note 8. Elsewhere, you’ll find the volume rocker on the left edge, and the power button on the right, while the USB Type-C port and 3.5mm headphone jack sit at the bottom.
In the UK and Europe, the Galaxy A8 will be available in three colours: black, gold and orchid grey. The back of the phone is made out of a layer glass, which feels great in the hand, although it does smudge quite easily. And just like the Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) the A8 is IP68 dust- and water-resistant and can be submerged up to a depth of 1.5m for 30mins. It also has NFC, Bluetooth 5.0 and dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
As well as the edge-to-edge screen, there’s also now support (for the first time in Samsung’s mid-range) for the company’s Samsung Gear VR headset, although because the resolution and pixel density are pretty low, images won’t look anywhere near as crisp through your high-tech goggles as they do with Samsung’s pricier phones.
Samsung Galaxy A8 hands-on: Early verdict
Samsung’s A-series of phones have become an excellent choice in recent times for discerning Samsung fans on a budget and the A8 appears be cast from the same mould, though it does sits in a somewhat awkward spot.
With the Samsung Galaxy S8 now available for around £500 since and the excellent OnePlus 5T available for £450, both offering a faster processors, excellent rear-cameras and Android 8.0 Oreo, Samsung is going to have to price the A8 lower; the trouble is, I don’t think it will.
Still, the Galaxy A8 presents a decent first glimpse of what Samsung has planned for 2018 and I expect I’ll be looking back on a long list of outstanding handsets from the Korean firm this time next year.