- A water- and dust-resistant body allows you to take the A8+ anywhere
- Well balanced performance with battery efficiency for all day productivity
MOST of us might recognise Samsung as the maker of high-end flagship smartphones but the South Korean device maker has not forgotten the mid-range segment. It has in fact, annually offered its performance/ value segment with the A series and this year is no different.
Last year we had the opportunity to test the Galaxy A7 (2017) and this year we follow it up with a look at the Galaxy A8+ (2018). As the name indicates, the plus denotes that this is the plus-sized variant of the phone with a six-inch screen compared to the 5.6-inch of the smaller A8 (2018).
Let’s dive right into whether Samsung starts out the year with a hit or miss with the A8+.
The Galaxy A series typically carries over features from Samsung’s top-end smartphones. In the case of the A8+, it is clear that the phone inherits the aesthetics of the Galaxy S8 and Note 8, maintaining the rounded corners and an elongated shape that is slimmer and more pleasing to hold in hand.
The A8+ is a phone built to withstand any situation you can throw at it, with a metal frame and IP68 rated water and dust resistant body. This even allows it to survive a dip underwater at depths of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.
Looking at the phone, the A8+ doesn’t differ too much from last year’s A7. It maintains a featherweight 191g and measures just 8.3mm thin. On the bottom, you still have a 3.5mm headphone jack and it maintains, the now common, USB Type-C port. The volume rocker is on the left, opposite the power button on the right.
Interestingly, the A8 has two dedicated SIM card trays and microSD card tray so you don’t have to give up one slot if you want to expand the storage of your phone and vice versa.
Samsung’s Infinity Display takes centre stage on the A8+ and it stretches from top to bottom, doing away with the physical and capacitive buttons that used to sit in front.
The A8+ sports a six-inch Super Amoled screen which is one of the best screens in the business, is reason enough to check this phone out. Whether you are playing games, watching a movie or surfing the web, the large screen makes everything look good.
Frustratingly though, Samsung has shifted the fingerprint reader to the rear just beneath the camera. It is an awkward placement that results in you often smearing the rear camera’s lens.
But on the plus side, the accuracy of the reader is much improved this time around; unlocking the device quickly and getting it right 90% of the time though the size of the reader really should be enlarged.
Much like the Galaxy Note 8 and S8, you can unlock the A8+ with its Face Unlock feature. It works most of the time but it is rather slow. You are better off using the fingerprint reader if you want to unlock your phone in a hurry.
In terms of colours, Samsung chose to play it safe with the A8+ opting for the classic black, grey and gold. The only colour out of ordinary is a stunning deep blue.
Peeking under the hood, the A8+ sports an Exynos 7885 octa-core processor, 6GB of RAM and 64GB of internal storage, that can be expanded via microSD up to a whopping 256GB which is more than enough for anyone.
The A8+’s processor is identical to that of its smaller brother the A8, though the main difference lies in the amount of RAM on the device. This definitely gives an edge to the A8+ when it comes to multitasking between apps if you are a heavy user and maintains buttery smooth frame rates when transitioning between tasks.
It is running on Android 7.1.1 Nougat with Samsung’s interface over it, and is still relatively clean. Knowing Samsung, the update to Oreo will come eventually but it won’t be anytime soon.
Apart from that, you also get a larger 3,500mAh battery, compared with its smaller cousin the Galaxy A8 which has a 3,000mAh battery, with fast-charging capabilities. No doubt, the larger battery needs to support the larger screen but it also helps in keeping the phone running for longer.
Using the phone for a typical 12-hour period during the day, while performing all our usual work and non-work related apps from web browsing, YouTube and gaming, the A8+ comfortably held at least over 40% of battery by 8pm.
Below are the benchmark results that we ran with various apps.
Judging from the score, The A8+’s processor does a decent job given that it is a mid-range phone. There is actually, a marked improvement in performance when compared to the A7, scoring higher in Antutu and Geekbench.
While the A8+ isn’t a graphical powerhouse for games, it will only have trouble playing the highest end of games like Into the Dead 2. For your standard Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) type of games be it Arena of Valor, Vainglory or Mobile Legends, it runs perfectly fine on the device.
Following the dual camera trend from 2017, Samsung has included dual cameras on the front with 16-Megapixel and 8-Megapixel sensor with a wide f/1.9 aperture. The dual cameras afford you the ability to perform Live Focus, a feature that allows you adjust the ‘bokeh’ (blurred background) effect on your photos.
I have never been one for snapping selfies but it does a decent job passing off a photo like it was taken on a DSLR camera, albeit imperfectly when it tries to separate fine details like hair. The other added benefit of the dual cameras is the ability to take wide angle selfies, so you can fit more friends into a shot.
Even better, because this is a IP68 water and dust resistant phone, selfies need not be confined to dry land. Yes, you can actually take it into the pool to continue snapping selfies if you are into that sort of activity.
Flipping the phone around, you get a 16-Megapixel rear camera with an f/1.7 aperture that takes average quality photos both in sunny and low light conditions. Night-time shooting is impressive given Samsung’s legacy of producing phones with good low-light shooting capabilities.
However, where it pales in comparison with Samsung’s higher-end models is in the details and sharpness, both of which are pretty low and have a pastel look thanks to aggressive noise reduction. But in a situation where you are snapping a photo for social media sharing, the quality is perfectly acceptable.
In terms of video recording, take note that the A8+ doesn’t record 4K quality videos, but honestly not many people do, so you will need to make do with 1080p HD videos at 30 frames per second. What is more important and impressive is the inclusion of Video Digital Image Stabilisation (VDIS) on the camera that steadies your videos so well that it is almost on par with recording with a mobile phone gimbal (e.g. DJI’s Osmo Mobile).
To sum things up, the Galaxy A8+ gives Samsung a strong start this year as it manages to pack a whole host of features that we loved from last year’s high-end models in an affordable package.
Samsung has finally made improvements to the fingerprint reader, and you also get a big Infinity Display like that of the Galaxy S8 and Note 8, IP68 water and dust resistant body while performance isn’t too shabby either with a good mix of power and energy efficiency. Plus, you can play most of the latest games on the PlayStore with minimal lag.
What didn’t we love about the A8+? Well, the Face Unlock feature isn’t terrific in terms of response and it is Android 7.1.1 (Nougat) out of the box with no update in sight. The rear camera isn’t as detailed or as sharp as we would like it to be but at least it takes good selfies.
Finally, when it comes to value, the A8+ is priced at US$641 (RM2,499) which is a decent price for the package but if you are really on a budget then the smaller Galaxy A8 is definitely worth considering especially since it costs US$461 (RM1,799).
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