Samsung Galaxy A8 Review – A Superior Mid-range Android

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Samsung introduced the Galaxy A series last year through the launch of Galaxy A5 and A3 followed by Galaxy A7. The A series features more better aesthetic and premium feel over the other series. The Galaxy A8 is the latest and fastest A-phone to feature a metal-clad body in a very thin profile and which is positioned as an upper mid-range with a price tag of sub P25k pesos. It is available in local and online stores in the Philippines.

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For that pricing close to few flagship Androids, Samsung will surely have a hard time selling it like cup cakes. But let’s see if the steep price will not only match the premium style, but the whole performance too. Let’s also find out if the Galaxy A8 will provide a balancing A-game act overall. Read our Samsung Galaxy A8 in dual SIM gold variant review.

Design and build

Tipping the scale at 5.9mm, the Galaxy A8 is helluva thin phablet that sometimes I forgot I am handling a phone. Despite the crazy-thin design, Samsung didn’t forget to include the important physical keys: lock/power button on the right side while volume rocker on the left. These keys are made of metal too, aluminum to be exact.

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Unlike the Galaxy S6 and Note 5, Galaxy A8 doesn’t have 100% distinguishable design features that makes it look like a genuine premium phone. If you still remember the classic Samsung design way back from the Galaxy S3 up to the budget category, then you will know that Galaxy A8’s form is no different. We are bit disappointed on the shape and design, however, overall feel is memorable once in your hands–Galaxy A8 feels very solid and sleek.

Another premium feature you will be paying for the Galaxy A8 is the fingerprint sensor. Arguably, the fingerprint sensor on Galaxy A8 is comparable to the Note 5 by how it works but not as speedy and accurate.

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If not for the stubborn dated Samsung design attached to Galaxy A8, the premium materials would have perfectly complemented the Galaxy A8 to make it one of the best-looking Android smartphones to date.

Display and viewing experience

Samsung Galaxy A8 sports a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED panel with 1080p FHD resolution (386 ppi) and protected by Gorilla Glass 4.

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Sharpness may be average, but the Super AMOLED on Galaxy A8 is no different from the AMOLED of Galaxy Note and S line ups in terms of picture quality. Colors are punchy with good amount of contrast. Bringing the A8 outside in a bright sunny day is recommendable as screen remains clear, readable and sharp.

Overall brightness is really good that max level is kinda strong for my eyes’ preferences. As always, you have the option to calibrate the screen tone and set the brightness to auto.

Camera in still and video

Images shot from the 16MP main camera of Galaxy A8 are bright and with good amount of detail preservation, mostly the ones from daylight time. Despite having a good exposure in both day and night scenes, images of Galaxy A8 lacks vibrance in colors or true tone when compared to Xperia M5 and C5 Ultra. The reason to this is because of the aggressive exposure compensation that is happening behind the sensor, mainly done by software algorithms.

galaxy a8 camera hdr
hdr mode on galaxy a8 camera

Sharpness, however, is debatable as basing from the comparison, most of the shots from the Galaxy A8 lags behind the two mid-range smartphones of Sony. Samsung either overdone the sharpening or just miss out the focusing that resulted to most of our hand-held shots with so-so sharpness.

In terms of video shooting, Galaxy A8 is doing well with the focus speed. It was able to keep up with Sony’s 21.2MP-equipped Xperia M5 in focusing, but slightly left over in dynamic range and color balance.

It is great mentioning that selfie lovers would surely like the 5MP front-facing camera of Galaxy A8. Toning of the skin color is spot-on and the wide-angle lens provide more areas to capture in a single shot. Auto beauty effect works great too.

Software and experience

Flavoring the Galaxy A8 is Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz skin on top of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop OS of Google. Some of the visual features of TouchWiz are far from the near-vanilla Android experience or stock Android. Both the pull down quick menu and settings hub interface didn’t depart big from the 2013 version of TouchWiz. Other than that, you get close treatment on experience such as on the home screen and widgets.

If not for the Samsung-prepared themes in the theme store, the Android 5.0 Lollipop would have surely felt boring and too dated. Samsung managed to facelifts some areas, but didn’t excuse Samsung the need to overhaul the TouchWiz UX.

Performance and benchmark

Our unit is global or international SM-A800F with dual 4G SIM capability in gold variant. Particularly, this model is powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 615 octa-core chip. Other model, the A800Y is equipped with Exynos 5 Octa 5430.

The Galaxy A8 beats the Helio X10-powered Sony Xperia M5 in all performance and benchmark tests with a slight margin difference except on Basemark. You can check the benchmark scores below and the actual speed test in the comparison video below.

Benchmark ratings and scores for Samsung Galaxy A8

  • AnTuTu: Samsung Galaxy A8 – 48405
  • Basemark OS II: Samsung Galaxy A8 – 976
  • Geekbench: Samsung Galaxy A8 – single core: 937, multi-core: 3258

Speaker and audio quality

The rear-facing mono speaker quality of Galaxy A8 is undeniably good with loud and clear audio output. When stacked up against the Xperia M5 and Xperia C5 Ultra, it sits between those two. Bass and treble are convincingly balanced on the speaker of Galaxy A8. There is a bit of tinny sound but that is very hard to notice. Overall, you can rely on the Galaxy A8 during movie and music playback in loudspeaker.

Battery life and charging test

The Galaxy A8 packs 3050mAh built-in battery. Our battery test which includes playing an HD movie in flight mode, 50% brightness and volume off produced roughly 16h and 39min battery rating for the Galaxy A8. This rating is impressive considering that the Galaxy A8’s screen remain very bright over the entire test.

See also: Battery life test of Asus Zenfone Selfie, Sony Xperia M5, OnePlus 2, Xperia C5 Ultra

  • Video playback test: 16 hours 39 min

On a single charge, the Samsung Galaxy A8 would last up the morning of the second day which include switching to WiFi and cellular, whole day of SMS, push emails and social network notifications and chatting.

Price and Verdict

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The Samsung Galaxy A8 is the closest mid-range smartphone to the flagship Galaxy series with its superior display and build quality, on which, justify the steep price of P24,990. However, we are afraid to say that camera and hardware performance are only comparable to the mid-range competition. So if you are wanting a great shooter, then the Xperia M5 makes a great choice with its 21.2MP camera, capable of 4K UHD video.

What we did like from the Galaxy A8

  • Solid premium materials, thin build
  • Great battery life
  • Flagship-class AMOLED display

What we didn’t like from the Galaxy A8

  • Undistinguishable form and design
  • Steep price with only good camera
  • 2GB RAM limit and mid-range class chipset/CPU

SPECS, PH Price

Samsung Galaxy A8

Display 5.7-inch Super AMOLED 1080p FHD (1920×1080 pixels), 386ppi
Size 5.9mm thick, 151g weight
Design Aluminum, Gorilla Glass 4
Colors Gold, White, Black
Chipset Snapdragon 615 octacore / Exynos 5 Octa 5430
Processor 4×1.8GHz Cortex A53, 4×1.3GHz Cortex A53
Graphics Adreno 405 GPU
Memory 2GB RAM, 32GB internal, microSD 128GB
Main Camera 16MP AF, LED flash
Multimedia 1080p video, HDR
Front camera 5MP selfie, 1080p video
Connectivity 4G LTE, dual SIM, WiFi ac, Bt 4.1, NFC, GPS
OS Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
Software TouchWiz UX
Battery 3050mah, 16h39min battery life
Ports microUSB 2.0
Official Price P24,990, purchased from Lazada PH
Availability date Sep-15
Where to buy Samsung PH Store, Lazada

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avatar of jade bryan jardinico
Hi! I'm Jade, an Electronics and Communications Engineer and tech enthusiast. I am the editor-in-chief here at ManilaShaker and on our YouTube channel. If you have questions, suggestions or anything we could talk about you can find me Instagram and Twitter @jadejardinico.