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Samsung Galaxy A8 and A8+ (2018) review: Infinity Display comes to the A-series (sort of)
By James Lu - 13 Feb 2018
Launch SRP: S$648

Overview, Design, Display, Audio & Software

 


Overview

In previous years, the number in Samsung's A-series phones denoted the size of the display: 3 (smallest), 5 (medium size), and 7 (largest). This year, Samsung is changing its naming convention to better match its flagship S series, so now the number denotes the generation with a "+" to signify the larger screen size.

In other words: the A8 (5.6-inch display) and A8+ (6-inch display) are the mid-range versions of Samsung's S8 and S8+ models. If you're wondering, officially these models are called the A8 (2018) and A8+ (2018) because Samsung already released a Galaxy A8 phone back in 2015.

  Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018)
  Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018)
Launch SRP
  • From S$648
  • From S$798
Operating system
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
Processor
  • Samsung Exynos 7885 octa-core (2x2.2 GHz Cortex-A73 & 6x1.6 GHz Cortex-A53)
  • Samsung Exynos 7885 octa-core (2x2.2 GHz Cortex-A73 & 6x1.6 GHz Cortex-A53)
Built-in Memory
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
Display
  • 5.6-inch / 2,220 x 1,080 pixels (441 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • Always-On Infinity Display
  • 6-inch / 2,220 x 1,080 pixels (411 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • Always-On Infinity Display
Camera
  • Rear: 16-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Front: 16-megapixel + 8-megapixel, f/1.9
  • Rear: 16-megapixel, f/1.7
  • Front: 16-megapixel + 8-megapixel, f/1.9
Connectivity
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 11 (up to 600Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, GPS, GLONASS, NFC, USB 2.0 Type-C
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 11 (up to 600Mbps), Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, GPS, GLONASS, NFC, USB 2.0 Type-C
Storage Type
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
Battery
  • 3,000mAh
  • 3,500mAh
Dimensions
  • 149.2 x 70.6 x 8.4 mm
  • 159.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
Weight
  • 172g
  • 191g


Design

Ever year we see flagship features from Samsung's S series phones trickle down into the A range, and this year is no different. The new A-series phones now sport an 18.5:9 aspect ratio AMOLED Infinity Display, although I do find the use of that name slightly misleading. On the S8, S8+ and Note8, all of which also use Infinity Displays, the display curves over both of the edges, similar in effect to an infinity pool, which is where I assume Samsung got the name from. On the A8 and A8+ however, the display isn't curved, it just stops at a bezel like any of the other extra-tall bezel-less displays out there. There's nothing "infinity" about the A8's Infinity Display.

The lack of curved edges also means that the displays are slightly smaller on the A8 and A8+. So despite being roughly the same size, both have 0.2-inch smaller screens. They're also both thicker and about 20g heavier than their S-series counterparts.

Like most of Samsung's newer phones, the A8 and A8+ both have aluminum frames, with glass on the back and front. The aluminum has a matte finish compared to the shiny, glossy finish used on the S8 and Note8.

One area where the A8 does boast a superior design is on the rear of the phone. After much negative feedback over the positioning of the fingerprint scanner on the S8 and Note8, Samsung has finally relocated it to below the camera module. This new position is instantly more user-friendly, and the centered alignment looks more aesthetically pleasing too.

I'm also pleased to report that the camera module is completely flush with the rear of the phone.

The power button is on the right side, while the volume rocker is on the left. Unlike the S8 and Note8, there is no dedicated Bixby button, even though Bixby is supported on the A8 and A8+. I consider this a plus point.

Like last year's A series phones, the speaker is located on the right side, above the power button. I actually really like this positioning as I find it works better when you're watching videos in landscape orientation. Holding the phone in landscape mode, you can either position the speaker to fire down or up depending on your preference and there's no risk of covering it up by holding the sides like there was with the previous speaker position. On the bottom, you have a USB Type-C port and a headphone jack.



Like last year, both phones are IP68-rated, meaning they can survive underwater for 30 minutes at depths of up to 1.5m.


Display & Audio

While the A8 and A8+ differ in screen size, 5.6-inch, and 6-inch respectively, both phones use a Super AMOLED display with an 18.5:9 aspect ratio and sport a resolution of 2,220 x 1,080 pixels. That's a pixel density of about 441ppi and 411ppi for the A8 and A8+ respectively. Both displays look fantastic, and the drop in resolution compared to the S8 and Note8 really isn't noticeable. Colors are vivid without being oversaturated, and contrast is deep, with very dark blacks. The maximum brightness setting is on par with the S8, and I had no problems using the screen under bright sunlight.

As with all extra-tall displays, the listed screen size can be a bit misleading. If you watch regular 16:9 aspect ratio content on the A8 and A8+ there will be black bars on either side. 16:9 content on the A8 is roughly equivalent to a 5-inch phone's display, while the A8+ is about the same as a 5.5-inch display.

One thing I was disappointed to find lacking on the A8 and A8+ is the under-screen pressure-sensitive home spot found on the S8 and Note8. For now that remains a flagship feature only. Instead, the on-screen navigation buttons are always displayed in a little bar at the bottom of the screen, no matter what app you're using.

Audio from the A8 and A8+ comes from the single speaker located on the right side. Sound quality is surprisingly good for a mono-speaker, with a decent amount of bass, and plenty of volume. If you're wondering what the ideal orientation is, I found the speaker sounded better facing upwards.


UI

The Galaxy A8 runs on Android 7.1.1 Nougat, which is a bit of a shame for a phone launched in 2018. Samsung says an Android 8.0 Oreo update will be coming soon, but are unable to give us an exact ETA. The UI is basically the same Dream UI we've seen on the S8 and Note8, with the same lock screen, home screen and notification shade.

  

As before, there's no icon for the app drawer by default (although you can add it back in the Settings menu) but if you swipe on the screen, it will load the app drawer. Swipe up again and you're back to the home screen.  

Since there's no dedicated Bixby button on the A8, you have to swipe left from the home screen to access it. Bixby Home, Vision, and Reminder are all available on the A8, and work exactly the same way they do on the S8 and Note8. Bixby Voice, however, is not supported.

Dig deeper into the settings and there are further customization options for nearly everything, from the order and functionality of the on-screen buttons to themes, and settings for the always-on display.

7.5
  • Design 8
  • Features 8
  • User-Friendliness 7.5
  • Performance 7
  • Value 7.5
The Good
Always-on bezel-less AMOLED display
IP68 build
Great battery life
The Bad
Weak benchmark performance
Dual front camera setup not that useful
Slightly expensive
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