“The slimmest smartphone from Samsung yet, the A8 boasts high-end features and a sharp design”
Samsung has been launching smartphones quite actively in the past few months and the brand seems to be following a pattern with the launches. The year 2014 delivered high-end offerings like the Samsung Galaxy S5 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, while the beginning of this year brought along fresh breeze with the launch of the Galaxy A series, which flaunted mid-range smartphones like the Galaxy A3 (review), A5 (review) and A7 (first impressions), featuring unibody construction and metallic frames. This was followed by more premium smartphone launches with flagships like the Galaxy S6 (first impressions), Galaxy S6 Edge (review), and very recently, the Galaxy S6 Edge Plus (unboxing and first impressions) and the Galaxy Note 5. Now, focussing somewhere midway between the mid-range and premium smartphone segment, the brand has introduced its latest addition to the Galaxy A series, dubbed the Galaxy A8. The device incorporates premium elements like chamfered metallic trims and a fingerprint scanner, and at Rs 32,500, costs much lower than Samsung’s flagship players. After a quick unboxing, let’s take a closer look at what it brings to the table.
The retail box of the Galaxy A8 looks a little plain Jane, but sticks to the package design Samsung is using currently for all its smartphones. The bright blue box only features the device’s moniker on top of the lid, which can be removed to unveil the Galaxy A8.
The smartphone rests on a thin cardboard tray which can be flipped open. Inside the compartment which is then revealed, you will find a quick start guide and other documentation along with a power adapter, a USB cable, SIM ejector tool and a pair of earphones.
The Samsung Galaxy A8 looks pleasing to the eyes as the brand has paid attention to the design details. Our demo model flaunted a champagne gold hue on both the plastic rear and metal trims. The device sports a unibody design. There are rounded corners, which may remind you of the older Galaxy S series, but they don’t look as boring on the A8. The non-removable plastic rear panel does not feel flimsy at all. As a matter of fact, the gold finish makes it hard to discern that it’s plastic, unless you observe carefully. The rear panel is home to the primary camera. On either sides of this 16MP shooter, you will find an LED flash and the speaker grille.
The metallic monotony on the trims is broken by a couple of plastic stripes on both the top and bottom edge of the smartphone. Though minor, this detail does add to the overall look of the device. The top edge houses a secondary microphone while the bottom edge carries the micro-USB port, the primary microphone and a 3.5mm audio port. The vertical edges are chamfered towards the rear of the phablet. It is on these slopes of the edges, the buttons and ejectable SIM trays are placed. While the right is home to the power button, the left bears two volume control buttons, a nano-SIM slot and a hybrid slot which can accept either a nano-SIM or a microSD card. The fascia of the Galaxy A8 is taken up mostly by the large display, which is flanked by an earpiece, secondary camera, notification LED and a few sensors above, while there’s a home button and other navigation keys below. The home button doubles as a quick camera launcher and also hides the fingerprint scanner. Once stored, the fingerprint can be used to unlock the device without having to use any passwords.
The smartphone rocks a 5.9mm waist, making it the slimmest offering from Samsung yet. The slimness gels perfectly with the design language and the impressive build quality of the device only adds to the style factor. We’d say that the smartphone is the best-looking device in all of the Galaxy A series.
The Samsung Galaxy A8 flaunts a gigantic 5.7-inch full HD Super AMOLED display. As it is, the weight of the device is hard to ignore, and the huge screen does not help. The phablet does feel a little slippery to hold thanks to the slim body. The display comes with Samsung’s Super AMOLED tech and looks vivid. The colours look vibrant, the images and icons seem decently sharp and the screen is quite responsive as well. The viewing angles are good but the screen seems slightly reflective. The screen brightness doesn’t disappoint either. The Galaxy A8 also sports the Smart stay feature which doesn’t let the display dim while you’re still looking at it.
Powered by Samsung’s very own Exynos SoC, the Samsung Galaxy A8 makes use of four Cortex A7 cores humming 1.3GHz and four Cortex A15 cores clocked at 1.8GHz. There’s an integrated Mali T628 GPU to take care of the graphics. Thanks to this octa-core processor and the 2 gigabytes of RAM, overall operation seems smooth, though we'd like to reserve comment till we can take the phablet through our review grind.
Samsung’s Touchwiz UI runs atop Andriod 5.1.1 on the device and brings familiar attributes to the interface. On left of the primary home screen you’ll find Briefing, powered by Flipboard. The dedicated panel provides you with personalised news and content. Apart from quick settings and notifications, swiping down from the top of the screen also gives you access to Samsung’s S Finder and Quick Connect.
The smartphone also supports Multi Window where you can multitask with apps opened in either split screen view or pop-up view. Samsung has also provided a few motion and gesture controls as well. The UI works well with the material design and doesn’t spoil with a plethora of pre-installed third party apps. That said, you will still find some like OneDrive, OneNote, Skype, WeChat, and Google's suite as usual. The device comes with 32GB of inbuilt memory, out of which about 25GB can be used to store media, apps and personal content. The storage can be further expanded up to 128GB if you choose to put in a microSD card in the hybrid slot.
The hybrid dual-SIM phablet supports 4G and offers other standard connectivity options like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The Galaxy A8 is backed by a 3,050mAh non-removable battery which should last you a full day or even more with regular usage.
The megapixel count on the primary shooter of the Samsung Galaxy A8 is 16-megapixels. The camera app is simple, with settings listed on the left side of the view finder. You can swipe from left to choose from various camera modes and there are a few filters as well, that you can pre-apply while shooting. There’s an option to download more camera modes if you like. In our quick testing, the smartphone seems to focus and shoot pretty fast. There’s a 5MP front shooter as well and you can pick from a whole new set of camera modes like Wide Selfie and Interval Shot.
The retail box of the Samsung Galaxy A8 comes with a price tag of Rs 32,500, which is not completely easy on the pocket. With players like the ASUS Zenfone 2 Deluxe, Huawei Honor 6 Plus and the OnePlus 2 (review), which offer better numbers both in terms of price and hardware specs, the Samsung Galaxy A8 faces tough rivalry. However, stealing some features from Samsung’s flagship smartphones, the A8 does stand out as a worthy competitor, especially for the brand’s loyal customer base. We’ll have more to say about how well the device fares against the competition and if it's worth your money in our full review.
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