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Samsung Galaxy A8 Review: A Gorgeous Mid-ranger That’s Priced Out Of Contention

Samsung Galaxy A8 04

We review Samsung’s Galaxy A8!

As the holidays draw near, it’s become obvious that the new battleground of international brands has moved away from the high-end into the mid-range. Companies like OPPO, Lenovo and Huawei have new smartphones to duke it out in the mid-range. Korean juggernaut has their own dog as well, but their idea of a mid-range phone is quite different from what we and the consumers expect.

Samsung Galaxy A8 specs

  • 1.8GHz Exynos 5430 octa-core processor
  • Mali T628 GPU
  • 2GB of RAM
  • 5.7-inch full HD display, 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • 32GB of storage, expandable via microSD up to 128GB
  • 16-megapixel rear camera
  • 5-megapixel front camera
  • Dual SIM
  • 3G, LTE
  • WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, A-GPS, NFC, Fingerprint scanner
  • 3050mAh battery
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with TouchWiz UI

Samsung Galaxy A8 05

The thinnest phone Samsung’s ever made

Samsung’s A series has been the showcase of sorts of Samsung in regards to their all-metal design language. After making plastic backed phones for years, the company’s foray into metal couldn’t have come at a better time. And while they’ve managed to prove their competence with metal, first with the Alpha and then with the A3, A5 and A7, things come to head with the A8.

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The A8 uses a unibody aluminum design, and if you’ve seen the previous A series of phones, you already know what that means – rounded corners and chamfered edges. The A8 does employ a lot of prominent angles on the sides, more so compared to its smaller brothers.

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We say smaller because the A8 is considerably taller than its brethren, which is natural considering the thing has a 5.7-inch full HD AMOLED display. It’s also the thinnest phone not only in the A family but in Samsung’s entire catalog, coming in at just 5.9mm.

Samsung Galaxy A8 11

Just like other phones in Samsung’s stable, the A8 uses a physical home key that’s flanked by the recent apps button and back button. The A8 is also the only phone in the A series to use a fingerprint scanner embedded in the home button. Using the fingerprint scanner is quick and easy, though it doesn’t hold to the quickness of the fingerprint button on Huawei’s G8.

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Turning the phone over you’ll see the 16-megapixel rear camera, flanked by the flash and speaker. Unlike other unibody phones, the A8 doesn’t utilize a bottom mounted speaker, which means sound will get muffled if you lay the phone on a flat surface, with the screen up. In Samsung’s defence, there was probably no room for that speaker in the A8’s anorexic body anyway.

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The power button is on the right while the volume rocker is on the left, and both the 3.5mm jack and USB port are located on the bottom of the phone. The A8 is a dual-SIM phone in our market.

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Just like Samsung’s other phones the A8 uses a Super AMOLED display with a full HD resolution. It’s your typical Samsung Super AMOLED display, so that means high brightness, excellent viewing angles and vibrant, saturated colors that just make everything pop. While the 5.7-inch size of the panel stretch out the pixels to 386ppi, it’s still a fantastic display that’s a joy to play games and watch movies on.

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More than enough power from the Exynos processor in the phone

The Galaxy A8 comes in two processor flavors: the utterly boring and pedestrian Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 and Samsung’s own Exynos 5 Octa 5430. What we have here in the Philippines is the latter rather than the former, which is intriguing. Samsung’s Exynos processors have always had good performance benchmarks, and the Exynos 5430 is no exception, scoring 47616 points in AnTuTu.

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The Exynos 5 Octa 5430 is paired with 2GB of RAM. Normally we would say that that’s more than enough, but with recent mid-range phones offering 3GB of RAM, we feel Samsung should have at least tried to achieve parity with its competitors. To be fair, the phone still ran fine on just 2GB of RAM, with everything from browsing, apps, gaming running smoothly.

We did notice a bit of heating on the phone when it was under heavy load, and it got hot enough that we had to put the phone down. This is to be expected of course, considering the thinner body of the A8.

Just like other phone Samsung has released in the past, the A8 uses Samsung’s much slimmed-down TouchWiz UI. There’s really nothing to be said about it at this point in time really, as it’s almost the same TouchWiz UI that we’ve seen on the Galaxy S6 Edge, Samsung Note 5…we can go on and on.

Taken indoors with natural light
Taken indoors with natural light
Taken indoors, with artificial light
Taken indoors, with artificial light

Good camera overall

The Galaxy A8 comes with almost the same 16-megapixel, f/1.9 camera that’s found in the Galaxy S6 and Note 5. We say almost because there’s a myriad of features missing – no optical image stabilization and no auto HDR that made using the the phones that we mentioned a breeze.

Samsung Galaxy A8 19 Samsung Galaxy A8 20 Samsung Galaxy A8 21

They’re a great loss, though the A8 is capable of producing excellent images in both well and dimly-lit environments. You will miss the HDR feature though, and if you do want to turn it on, you’ll have to hunt for it yourself as it’s buried in the shooting menu when you access the camera functions.

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Okay-ish battery, but could be better

The A8 comes with a 3050mAh battery in its slim frame, which is quite impressive, to be honest. The phone clocked in a total score of 7 hours and 35 minutes on PCMark’s battery benchmark, which translates to more than a day’s worth with actual use.

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Verdict: An excellent mid-range phone, but its pricing lets it down

Probably the biggest problem that we have with the Galaxy A8 is its price. At Php 24,990, it’s possibly one of the most expensive mid-range smartphones around. And while Samsung PH points out that the A8 is still cheaper than its Galaxy S6 phones being sold at their original SRP, we don’t live in a vacuum, and there are dealers and sellers that price the Galaxy S6 cheaper than the A8. That’s a difficult pill to swallow, considering that the S6 is one of the best smartphones that’s been outed by the company of late, even if it does have a smaller battery and an overall smaller display.

John Nieves

John is a veteran technology and gadget journalist with more than 10 years of experience both in print and online. When not writing about technology, he frequently gets lost in the boonies playing soldier.

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15 Comments

  1. 2gig ram for PHP24000+ ? Samsung must be delusional. They should price it suitable for its specs..That would be worth 4000php i think..

    1. No idea if this is actually zobel or the troll but:

      Exynos and kirin processors are the most powerful in the market. This can easily be priced at 15 to 20k and still be fair.
      With no word of what other parts they use that can easily drive the price up, it’s hard to estimate.
      Samsung is also known for using wolfson sound dacs which provide one of the best sound processing in the mobile market.

    2. I disagree that Kirin socs are one of the most powerful, they are still inferior to snapdragons, in terms of performance and efficiency

  2. That’s the troll (I’m more callous yet eloquent than that.;) ) but anyway bitin na masyado ang 1 GB RAM even with just multiple tabs on light browsers, a lightweight third party Facebook app (what more the utterly bloated official one?), gmail and other basic apps. That’s just after four months of app updates. After several months rest assured kukulangin din ang 2 GB RAM. Not the fault of the phone actually but rather the developers who can’t program on low level code if their lives depended on it.

    And I agree no phone is worth 25 k. It probably cost Samsung less than 8 k to make each one of this.

    1. 2gb of ram is enough for day to day use, but it certainly bottlenecks the otherwise powerful processor.
      3GB of ram and a price of around 20K would put this phone in a very, very good spot.
      Samsung knows how to play its cards right however and know that people are willing to pay the premium branding anyway.
      And another thing to note is that research and development isn’t free, a good portion of the money goes into that as well.

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