Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) is officially the company’s first phone for 2018 with flagship-like specifications. Samsung usually starts the year with the Galaxy A series launched, and around Feb-March, the new S series flagship is revealed. The current Galaxy A8+ gets features from the previous year’s flagship as has been the trend in the past. For starters, there’s the Infinity Display, the face recognition feature. However, unlike Galaxy Note8 which had a dual-rear camera, Galaxy A8+ sports a dual camera on the front.
The pricing of the Galaxy A8+ is Rs 32,990 which puts it in direct competition with other mid-range flagships like OnePlus 5T, which also has a 18:9 display and the Honor View 10, which boasts of dual rear cameras and AI features. So can the Galaxy A8+ really stand out in this segment and is it better than the competition? Here’s what we thought after our review.
Samsung Galaxy A8+ specifications: 6-inch SAMOLED Full HD+ display (2220 x 1080 pixels) with 18.5:9 aspect ratio | Exynos 7885 octa-core processor at 2.2Ghz| 6GB RAM+ 64GB storage expandable | 16MP rear camera with f/1.7 aperture + 16MP+8MP front camera | 3500 mAh battery | Android Nougat 7.1 | Bixby | IP68 Water and Dust resistance |
The Galaxy A series has always borrowed design elements from the flagship S series. The glass and metal design we have seen on the Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S8 series was also extended to the 2017 Galaxy A7, A5 phones. With the Galaxy A8+ this continues and it has the familiar rectangular glass and metal design with slight curved edges at the back. However, the Galaxy A8+ is a bigger phone with a 6-inch taller Infinity Display. The aspect ratio is 18.5:9 and Samsung has removed the physical home button from the front. Instead, the Galaxy A8+ has on-screen buttons.
Samsung has also placed the speaker of the Galaxy A8+ on the right-hand side, just above the power button, which is an awkward position as I would find myself often covering the speaker while holding the device with both hands to watch videos. Bottom-placed speakers are common in the industry and I wish Samsung had introduced dual speakers on this. The Galaxy A8+ still has a 3.5mm headphone jack, and I must say I am grateful for this and do not have to worry about carrying adapters or special earphones.
The Galaxy A8+ also sports one significant design change: It has a rear fingerprint scanner placed below the prominent camera module. With Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8, which also sport Infinity Displays, Samsung had placed the fingerprint scanner next to the camera, a decision that was frowned upon. Overall, the Galaxy A8+ looks quite premium for its price, though my only grouse would be that this is a fairly big phone. The Infinity Display might mean more viewing space, but I still struggle using devices with a 6-inch display. Personally, I would have preferred the smaller Galaxy A8, but that has not come to India yet.
Yes, this is a 6-inch phone, but do not confuse that to mean bulky and ugly. Samsung has perfected this glass metal design and the Galaxy A8+ looks stunning. The 6-inch always on display with 18.5:9 aspect ratio is one of the best in the business. When it comes to Super AMOLED displays, Samsung is still king and I would say the competition does pale in comparison in this department. This is clearly where Samsung has the edge, after all Samsung Display is the world’s largest OLED display supplier.
The 6-inch Infinity Display is perfect for video consumption and the colour reproduction is mostly accurate with deep blacks. I had no problems using the phone in bright sunlight either. However, there’s a slight colour difference I could see in some videos, when playing with the viewing angles, though this is not something that mars the experience in anyway. I mean at least, faces do not appear green like I’ve seen on some flagship OLEDs.
On the performance front, it looks like Samsung is trying to offer more on paper with Galaxy A8+ phone. This year’s phone has the Exynos 7885 octa-core processor coupled with 6GB RAM and 64GB storage. Galaxy A8+ gave no cause for complaints and has no issues multi-tasking. Animations are smooth, there’s virtually no lag. Playing games like Nova Legacy, Asphalt 8 did not cause any issues or noticeable lag on the phone.
However, in benchmark scores, the Galaxy A8+ does not score as high as OnePlus 5T on Antutu, and gets around 84,994. Still that does not mean the phone is slow or the performance is buggy as such. But yes, this might certainly not impress those who want 8GB RAM and the latest processor, which OnePlus 5T does offer, for now.
Coming to the new feature like Face Recognition, it works quite well, though in poor lighting it does struggle. But this is a convenient way of unlocking the device nonetheless. The only issue was that because I registered my face while wearing glasses, I had to keep these on every time I wanted the phone to recognise me. Apple’s iPhone X thanks to the hardware and software approach can recognise a user, glasses or no glasses, which is where Samsung needs to evolve to as well.
On the camera front, Samsung has stuck with a single rear camera and instead opted for dual front cameras. The Live focus feature, where a user can blur the background, is part of the selfie camera and not the rear as I’ve seen in the Galaxy Note8 smartphone. In bright daylight, the camera is probably one of the best in this price range, with details being preserved and colour reproduction is quite accurate. Even selfies taken in the Live Focus mode in daylight look quite nice and sharp.
If you are shooting indoors in a well-lit restaurant, the images do turn out fine, though they look a little too sharp for my taste. However, low light performance does have some issues, which I will discuss further on in this review.
The battery on the Samsung Galaxy A8+ is 3500 mAh and in the PCMark test it managed to score around 10 hours plus which is impressive. The phone supports fast charging as well. On average, though expect the phone to last a day easily with moderate to heavy usage, which is what is expected in this price range. Samsung also has enough battery saving options in the settings, which can be turned on to conserve battery. Also this phone is water and dust resistant, something that’s missing on both OnePlus 5T and Honor View 10.
A 2018 phone launching with Android Nougat on it is just not good news. Samsung should have just introduced this with the latest Android Oreo OS, and there’s no word on when or if the update will eventually roll out. The lack of the latest OS stands out in contrast to rivals like Honor View 10, which already has the Oreo update.
The low-light performance of the rear camera could have been better. The details are missing and sometimes the pictures look overly bright, which again tends to smudge details. Also the camera takes a few seconds longer to focus in low light and is not as fast and snappy as one would expect in this particular price range.
Coming to the design, I would say this is a bulky phone and prone to collecting smudges quite easily. In fact, the Samsung Galaxy A8+ looked like a mess within just two days of use and I would recommend a cover for this, which is a shame. And the glass back had some prominent scratches, which has been a problem with such designs.
The Samsung Galaxy A8+ joins the list of mid-range premium phones in the market and will compete with the OnePlus 5T, Honor View 10. The Galaxy A8+ might not have 8GB RAM or 128GB storage, but performance is not lacking in any way. The rear and front camera are both great, though low-light pictures are a problem. The display on the A8+ is definitely one of the best in this price range, in fact it has the edge over OnePlus in this department. It also comes packed with Samsung’s Bixby and Samsung Pay features. However, the older OS is a big miss from Samsung.
I would say consider the Samsung Galaxy A8+ if you are okay with a six-inch phone and do not wish to try out the other newer Chinese players in the market. For those who want more power, the OnePlus 5T is still an option and remember the Oreo update is already in testing for this. Then there’s Honor View 10, which is a newer entrant to the market and comes with capable features and focus on AI as well and an impressive camera to the boot. If you are looking for a new phone in the Rs 30,000 plus range, the number of options just got bigger with the Galaxy A8+ joining the list.