“The Galaxy A8+ brings the design of the Note8 in a more affordable package”
Up until a few years ago, most of the excitement surrounding a smartphone launch was condensed around the flagship or the premium segment. However, with the Chinese influx, tech enthusiasts across the globe had a reason to stay up late at night and watch the unveiling of various affordable flagships. Fast-forward to 2018 and manufacturers like OnePlus and Xiaomi have become the go-to brands for buyers wanting spec-heavy handsets without breaking the bank. In a bid to attract value-conscious consumers to its doorsteps, Korean giant Samsung has come up with the Galaxy A8+ (first impressions), a smartphone which borrows the premium design of its S-series siblings, boasts impressive specs and comes with the brand name associated with the company. Seems too good to be true, doesn’t it? Well, after a week of solid testing, I feel that the Galaxy A8+ could very well be your next daily driver. Heres why.
Design and Display
The Samsung Galaxy A8+ undeniably takes its design inspiration from the pricier Galaxy Note8 (review) and from the front, you’d be hard-pressed to tell the differences between the two smartphones. There area few differences here and there, but unless you’ve got a keen eye, youll probably mistake the A8+ for its significantly pricier sibling, at least from a distance. In terms of the materials used in its construction, the Galaxy A8+ too has been crafted using a blend of glass and metal, giving the smartphone a comparable in-hand feel to the Note8 or the Galaxy S8+(review). However, unlike its pricier siblings, the A8+ doesn’t feature a curved, edge-to-edge display and instead, comes with a chunkier metal trim which at first glance, appears to be relatively better for the grip. However, since the metal trim features a slightly rounded finish, youll find the A8+ to be just as slippery as the S8 or the Note8 smartphones. To Samsungs credit, the company does provide a transparent bumper case with the retail unit of the smartphone, though the finishing of the case isa tad slippery too. Therefore, Id recommend you get an after-market case with a textured finish because believe me, you are bound to drop the A8+.
While Samsung has stencilled the design of the Note8 onto the A8+, thats not to say that the smartphone is a carbon copy of its more accomplished sibling. In fact, the Galaxy A8+ features a very prominent design change from last years lineup a repositioned fingerprint sensor. If you’ve even briefly used the Galaxy S8+ or the Note8, then you’d know that using the awkwardly-positioned fingerprint sensor on either of the two smartphones is nothing short of a nightmare. The Galaxy A8+ rectifies that by placing the sensor below its camera module, where your index finger can reach it comfortably even when you’re holding the smartphone with just one hand. As far as the performance of the sensor is concerned, I was fairly impressed with how quickly it registered my fingerprint, however, the unlocking animation feels a tad bit slow.
Thats not the only thing Samsung has repositioned on the A8+, mind you. The company has placed the speaker grill on the right side of the A8+ as opposed to the bottom-firing unit on the Note8. The result? An unobtrusive experience while watching movies or playing games as my fingers never covered the speaker grill to muffle the audio. Last but not the least, the Samsung Galaxy A8+ ships with IP68 certification, which is a godsend if you’re as clumsy as I am with your smartphones.
Much like most other smartphones launched in the second half of 2017, the A8+ too boasts extremely sleek bezels owing to its unique 18.5:9 display. Besides adding to the smartphones appeal, the sleek bezels give the device a fairly large 6-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED display without increasing its overall footprint. The quality of the panel is outstanding too, punching out exuberant colours which are pleasing to the eye and boasting impressive peak brightness levels which will allow you to comfortably use the smartphone even under direct sunlight. All in all, Samsung couldn’t have designed the A8+ any better and it gets even more interesting from here.
The selfie-craze is showing no signs of waning down and in an attempt to cash in on some of the buzz, Samsung has furnished the Galaxy A8+ with dual cameras on the front, which interestingly is a first for the company. Spec-wise, the smartphone offers a pair of 16MP and 8MP shooters on the front, each equipped with f/1.9 aperture sensors. Towards the back, you will get a single 16MP f/1.7 aperture shooter which has been aided by an LED flash module. The camera software remains mostly unchanged, and also includes Bixby vision which works in a similar fashion to Google Lens, identifying various objects when you point the rear camera at them.
In terms of image quality, the Galaxy A8+ is almost as good as the competition and manages to capture some incredibly detailed photos under well-lit conditions. Being a Samsung smartphone, the A8+ does shoot slightly over-saturated images, though, the results look pleasing to the eye. Now, since the smartphone comes with just a single sensor at the back, you do miss out on bokeh shots. However, the smartphone automatically blurs the background of the subject when you’re shooting macros, and it does so really well too. Low-light photography, on the other hand, is more of a miss than a hit on the A8+. More often than not, images turn out grainy and while the built-in flash does an okay job of retaining some of the details, the camera does very little to capture the moment, so to speak.
That said, Samsung pretty much hit the nail on the head with the front camera setup on the A8+. The selfie shooters capture some of the finest portraits I’ve seen on a smartphone which are rich in details and colours. Moreover, the presence of a secondary sensor upfront allows you to click selfies in bokeh mode and you even have the option of tweaking the background blur to your liking after you’ve taken the selfie, which is fantastic.
Performance and Software
Lets get the specs out of the way first. The Samsung Galaxy A8+ is powered by an Exynos 7885 octa-core processor which offers two performance cores clocked at 2.2GHz and six battery-efficient cores clocked at 1.6GHz. The smartphone comes with 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, which can be expanded via a microSD card. Now, is the Samsung Galaxy A8+ faster than the Snapdragon 835 toting OnePlus 5T (review)? No. Theres a noticeable difference in performance between the two smartphones, though thats not a strike against the A8+ in my opinion. You see, the smartphone can play any game or run any app similar to the 5T or any other Snapdragon 835-powered smartphone with ease. I managed to get playable frame rates on intensive titles too, even with the graphics setting set to max. However, you will notice the loading times to be slightly longer on the A8+, along with the occasional hiccup here or there when you’re multitasking between a bunch of apps.
Ensuring that the smartphone doesn’t leave you searching for a wall charger in the middle of the day, Samsung has furnished the A8+ with a beefy 3,500mAh battery. The battery life of the smartphone is impressive, and the handset will easily see you through the end of a long day. During my usage (involving texting on WhatsApp, browsing through various social media feeds, some casual gaming and listening to music) the smartphone consistently hit the 4-4.5-hour screen-on time mark and still had some juice left in the tank by the time I hit the bed at the end of the day.
Phone calls have clearly become a thing of the past but if you have an unlimited voice-calling plan from Jio or Airtel, then I’m afraid you wont be able to make the most out of it with the A8+. During my usage, I faced quite a few connectivity issues with the A8+, including dropped calls and poor 4G coverage. And before you think my issues could have something to do with my service provider, I did pop my SIM card in the OnePlus 5T as well as the Apple iPhone 7 Plus at the same locations, and got significantly better results.
Software-wise, the smartphone boots Android Nougat with Samsungs custom skin on top. While its not quite stock Android, the company has improved its software experience over the years and Samsungs redesigned TouchWiz now ships with minimal bloatware and almost no gimmicky features. Unfortunately, the A8+ is plagued by random UI jitters. If you do end up purchasing the A8+, I’ll recommend you install a custom launcher like Nova Prime as it could improve your overall experience with the smartphone. Now with that said, the software on the smartphone comes bundled with a bunch of useful features, including an option to bring down the notification panel by swiping down on the fingerprint sensor and multi-window, which will let you use two different applications simultaneously.
Samsung has also bundled face unlock with the A8+, a feature which we are seeing more and more of ever since Apple took the wraps off the iPhone X. It works, but Im not sold on the company’s implementation of the same. For starters, unlocking the A8+ by using its fingerprint sensor is a lot quicker than by using facial recognition. Moreover, the process of unlocking the A8+ by means of facial recognition involves pressing the power button to turn on the display since the smartphone doesn’t come with the raise to wake the display functionality like the iPhone. Therefore, instead of pressing the power button, Id rather just use the fingerprint sensor in the first place, which as I stated earlier, is a lot quicker.
The Galaxy A8+ is a capable smartphone which features a stunning design, a gorgeous display, impressive battery life and one of the best selfie shooter(s) in the market. Moreover, you also get IP68 certification with the smartphone, along with a good rear camera provided you’re shooting under well-lit conditions. The other capable options in this segment include the Nokia 8, the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2, and the OnePlus 5T of course. Each brings something unique to the table. The Nokia 8 is a sleek handset that is sure to get platform updates quickly, while the Xiaomi Mi Mix 2 kills it with its design. The OnePlus 5T is possibly the strongest rival to the Galaxy A8+, and while the former does offer higher specs and better cameras, the A8+ is impervious to water thanks to its IP68 rating. In sum, the Samsung Galaxy deserves a close, hard look, especially if you don’t want to splurge on a premium flagship.
Editors Rating: 3.5 / 5
- Stunning design
- IP68 certification
- Good battery life
- Good front-camera
- Performance could be better
- Network issues
- Average rear camera