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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

Benchmark Performance, Imaging, Battery life, and Conclusion

Performance Benchmarks

The A8 and A8+ both use Samsung's own Exynos 7885 octa-core processor. The processor uses an unusual setup pairing two performance-oriented 2.2GHz Cortex-A73 cores with six 1.6GHz Cortex-A53 efficiency cores. This is the first Exynos 7 series chip to sport performance-oriented Cortex-A73 cores (last year's models only utilized A53 cores).

The A8 has 4GB RAM, while the A8+ gets a slight upgrade to 6GB RAM. Both phones are using a Mali-G71 GPU, which is the same GPU found in the S8 and Note8.

Samsung's 7 series chips have disappointed in the past, so I'm hoping the addition of the Cortex-A73 cores will give a much-needed performance boost.

  Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) Oppo R11s Plus OnePlus 5 (8GB RAM/128GB) Xiaomi Mi MIX 2
  Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) Oppo R11s Plus OnePlus 5 (8GB RAM/128GB) Xiaomi Mi MIX 2
Launch SRP
  • From S$648
  • From S$798
  • From S$648
  • From S$849
  • From S$799
  • From S$699
Operating system
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • Android 7.1.1 Nougat
  • Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
  • Android 7.1 Nougat with Color OS 3.2
  • Android 7.0.1 (Nougat) with Oxygen OS 4.5
  • Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) with MIUI 8
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)
  • Samsung Exynos 7880 Octa-core 1.9 GHz Cortex-A53
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 660 Octa-core (4x2.2 GHz Kryo 260 & 4x1.8 GHz Kryo 260)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 835
Built-in Memory
  • 4GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • 3GB RAM
  • 6GB RAM
  • 8GB 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
  • 5.7-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (386 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • Always-On Display
  • 6.43-inch / 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (376 ppi) / 18:9 aspect ratio / AMOLED
  • 5.5-inch / 1,920 x 1,080 pixels (401 ppi) / AMOLED
  • 5.99-inch / 2,160 x 1,080 pixels (402 ppi) / IPS
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
  • Rear: 16-megapixel, f/1.9, 27mm, LED flash
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/1.9
  • Rear: 16-megapixel f/1.7 + 20-megapixel f/1.7, 2x optical zoom
  • Front: 20-megapixel, f/2.0
  • Primary Rear: 16-megapixel, f/1.7, contrast detection autofocus, EIS, LED flash, 1.12 µm pixel size
  • Secondary Rear: 20-megapixel, f/2.6, phase detection autofocus, LED flash, 1.00 µm pixel size
  • Front: 16-megapixel, f/2.0, 1.0 µm pixel size
  • Rear: 12-megapixel, f/2.0, PDAF, two-tone flash, 4-axis OIS, 1.25µm pixel size
  • Front: 5-megapixel
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
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4 + 5GHz), 4G+ LTE Cat 9 (up to 450Mbps), Bluetooth 4.1, VHT80, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, NFC, Screen Mirroring
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, WiFi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP, LE, EDR, GPS, GLONASS
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, DLNA, USB Type-C, USB 2.0
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (dual band), Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, Wi-Fi Direct, Wi-Fi Display, USB Type-C 2.0
Storage Type
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 32GB internal storage
  • 256GB (MicroSD)
  • 64GB internal storage
  • Expandable up to 256GB (via microSD shared with SIM 2 slot)
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 256GB internal storage
Battery
  • 3,000mAh
  • 3,500mAh
  • 3,600mAh
  • 4,000mAh
  • 3,300mAh
  • Dash Charge
  • 3,400mAh
  • Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0
Dimensions
  • 149.2 x 70.6 x 8.4 mm
  • 159.9 x 75.7 x 8.3 mm
  • 156.8 x 77.6 x 7.9 mm
  • 164.8 x 80.2 x 7.3 mm
  • 154.2 x 74.1 x 7.25 mm
  • 150.5 x 74.6 x 7.7 mm
Weight
  • 172g
  • 191g
  • 186g
  • 182g
  • 153g
  • 187g


Sunspider Javascript

SunSpider JavaScript measures the browsing performance of a device when processing JavaScript. It not only takes into consideration the underlying hardware performance, but also assesses how optimized a particular platform is for delivering a high-speed web browsing experience. 

Unfortunately, the A8 and A8+ aren't off to a great start, only beating last year's A7. Just for comparison, the S8, S8+, and Note8 hold the three fastest Android scores in this benchmark with sub-300ms times.

 

Basemark OS II

Basemark OS II is an all-in-one benchmarking tool that measures overall performance through a comprehensive suite of tests including system, internal and external memory, graphics, web browsing, and CPU consumption.

The A8 and A8+ didn't do much better in Basemark, with disappointing scores trailing way behind the Qualcomm Snapdragon 660-powered Oppo R11s Plus and even further behind the Snapdragon 835 OnePlus 5 and Xiaomi Mi MIX 2.

 

3DMark Sling Shot Unlimited

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. We're running this benchmark in Unlimited mode, which ignores screen resolutions.

Despite using the same GPU as the S8 and S8+, the A8 and A8+ seem to be held back by the 7885's sluggish processor and were again the worst performers in this benchmark.



 

Imaging

Both the A8 and A8+ are equipped with a single 16-megapixel rear camera with a f/1.7 aperture lens. It has phase detection autofocus but no optical image stabilization.

Samsung offers a 'Pro' shooting mode, but it's quite lacking compared to what you'll find on some other phones, like the LG V30+. You can adjust exposure, ISO and white balance presets, but there's no manual focus, shutter speed option or grid lines to help you compose your shot. 

Image quality is quite good, with good detail retention, low noise and minimal signs of noise reduction. Colors are accurate and neutral.

HDR is available, but strangely enough, it's hidden inside the Settings menu. There's no option in either Auto or Pro mode to quickly toggle it on or off. HDR mode on the A8 isn't the best anyway, as it won't really do much to increase details in shadows, although it will prevent bright areas from being completely blown out.

Click for full-size image

In a Samsung-first, the Galaxy A8 comes with a dual front-facing camera. It's a 16-megapixel 27mm lens + 8-megapixel 24mm lens pairing, each with a f/1.9 aperture. While the 8-megapixel lens has a wider 24mm focal length, it's not really wide enough for group selfies. There's actually a "Wide Selfie" mode for that, but it requires you to pan the camera (effectively taking a mini-panorama), which can be a little tricky depending on how you handle your phone.

The main reason for the dual camera setup is to let you take Live Focus selfies, which is a feature we first saw on the rear dual camera of the Samsung Galaxy Note8. Live Focus selfies on the A8 work the same way, with a slider that lets you adjust the level of bokeh. This slider is also available even after the photo has been taken.

Having said that, the effect isn't as good on the A8, and the background blurring tends to look a little hazy - even at max blurring, the background isn't as creamy and soft as you get on the Note8.

 

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

The A8 uses a 3,000mAh battery, while the A8+ has a 3,500mAh battery. Battery life on both models was fairly good, with the A8 lasting 12 and a half hours, and the A8+ lasting exactly 13 hours, although both lasted significantly shorter than last year's A7.

Despite having a glass back, the A8 doesn't support wireless charging. Quick Charging, however, is supported by means of Samsung Adaptive Fast Charging technology. On both phones it takes about 30 minutes to get 60 percent charge, then another 45 minutes or so for the remaining 40 percent.


Conclusion

The Samsung A8 and A8+ are basically stripped down, 'lite' versions of the S8 and S8+ without all the bells and whistles you get when you buy a flagship phone. So while you still get a bezel-less, always-on AMOLED display and an IP68 build, you don't get the same futuristic dual-curved design. You're also missing perks like wireless charging and the S8's hidden pressure sensitive under the display home button. But these are things you can live without.

The actual display is just as good as the S8's, and the rear camera is pretty good too. The one area where the A8 and A8+ fall behind the competition is benchmark performance. Samsung has struggled in this area with its 7-series Exynos chips, and unfortunately, that continues with the A8 and A8+. To be fair, this won't affect most people, and the A8 is still powerful enough for everyday tasks like internet browsing, social media, and watching videos. It even runs most games just fine, although you may notice a bit of lag on newer, more graphically intensive games. Even so, at a fairly pricey S$648 for the A8, and S$798 for the A8+, I can understand if some people consider the poor benchmark performance a deal breaker.

Finally, while Samsung is basically unchallenged at the top-end of the Android market, the upper mid-range is far more competitive. For S$699, the Xiaomi Mi MIX 2 gives you a much better Qualcomm Snapdragon 835 processor, but at the expense of battery life. Alternatively, with the S9 about to be unveiled, you can actually buy a brand new S8 for as low as S$830 or an S8+ for just S$910.

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