Samsung Galaxy A8+ 2018 review: The flagship assassin
OnePlus 5T and HonorView 10 face a challenge from Samsung’s latest Galaxy A8+ 2018. Read the detailed review for more.
Finally, there's a fresh buzz to ₹30,000+ smartphone category. Thanks to exciting phones such as HonorView 10 and OnePlus 5T, there's some competition, which is good for consumers ultimately. The latest to join the competitive segment is Samsung's new Galaxy A8+ (2018).
Samsung globally offers two variants of the phone - Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8+. The company has chosen to launch the larger-screen variant Galaxy A8+ in India. The smartphone is first for Samsung in various ways - it features never-seen-on-a-Samsung-phone dual-front camera, an 18:9 edge-to-edge (Infinity display in Samsung's speak) panel on its mid-range phone and more.
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) is rather an affordable version of the flagship Galaxy S8-series than an upgrade over the older Galaxy A-series. It borrows most of the features available on the flagship phones such as Samsung Pay, Always-on Display, IP68 certification for water and dust resistance, and among others. Apart from top-of-the-line specifications, what makes Galaxy A8+ (2018) more exciting is the price - ₹32,990, bringing the fight to the likes of OnePlus and Honor.
Samsung Galaxy A8+ skips Galaxy S8's flamboyance and rather has a slab-like form-factor, resembling Galaxy Note 8, but with less swag. The phone is surprisingly thick 8.3mm and heavy at 191 grams. In comparison, Galaxy S8+ is 8.1mm thick and weighs 173 grams whereas Galaxy Note 8 is 8.6mm thick and weighs 195 grams. So, Galaxy A8+ is somewhere between the two phones.
The slab-like design may bring subtlety to the overall looks, but I am not a big fan. I like the edges curvier and side frames a little glossier just to add a style quotient to my phone, and it's a personal preference.
But what I seriously wished for in Galaxy A8+ was the more rounded corners that don't dig deep in palms. Galaxy A8+ feels like a giant phone for its large-screen and is bit cumbersome using one hand for a longer period of time. And if you have a smaller hand, Galaxy A8+ may feel enormous to you.
For a person like me who has relatively bigger palms, I faced no problems reaching to necessary buttons such as volume rocker, unlock/lock, and the fingerprint scanner on the back. But of course it did take some time to get used to the screen size, considering I was using a tinier entry-level Xolo Era phone before this.
As we said earlier, Galaxy A8+ is first in various ways for the Korean company. With A8+, Samsung has fixed the fingerprint scanner location that people faced with Galaxy S8-series. In case you don't remember, Samsung had placed the fingerprint scanner adjacent to the rear camera - a unique position where most of users ended up with smudging the rear camera. Galaxy A8+ has finally fixed this by placing the scanner below the rear camera module, making it more comfortable to access and get used to.
Another unique thing that you will notice about the design is the position of speakers. It's located on the top right edge, contrary to popular choices such as at the bottom or at the rear. Perhaps it ensures the single speaker fires loud enough voice without any muffing.
While the location of the speaker seems good enough in most use cases, but I think it is kind of inconvenient when using the phone in landscape mode. Say, you're watching a movie on Netflix (landscape mode), you will most likely place your fingers over the side panels in order to avoid inadvertent touch to the display (most of the edge-to-edge displays have this problem). Doing so, chances are you choke the speaker with your finger. It's a forced behavior change, but nonetheless not really that kind of a big deal.
Last but not least, Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) comes with a glass back panel which is a fingerprint and smudge magnet. Unless you use a case over the rear, you may have to get used to swiping the back panel. The good thing is the glass back panel isn't fragile. It survived couple of minor drops from waist height on wooden floor with no visible dents.
Still here? Great, now let's talk about other aspects of the smartphone. Beginning with the display, Samsung Galaxy A8+ has a 6-inch full HD+ Super AMOLED screen with 18:5:9 aspect ratio. As you'd expect from Samsung's AMOLED displays, they're rich in colours and vibrant.
The phone delivers pretty decent outdoors and indoors legibility and auto-brightness works just fine. If you love watching high resolution videos or playing graphic-rich games, Galaxy A8+ is just the right kind of phone for you.
There are various software-based customisation that you can do to set display according to your preference. For instance, you can activate Blue light filter to reduce eye strain. You can choose between different screen modes to adjust colour balance on the phone. Tapping on Advanced options will give you further control on the intensity of colours such as Red, Green and Blue.
Since it's an edge-to-edge panel, you would want to make most of it by using them in full screen aspect ratio. But in case you don't want them customised for full-screen, you can disable that too. Though you have the choice between just two options - all apps and configurable (non-Samsung ones) apps.
The highlight of Samsung Galaxy A8+ 2018 is the dual-front camera. So, what does a dual-camera setup on the front bring to the table? Well, primarily two things - wide angle and shallow depth-of-field-like effect mimicking a DSLR experience.
On launching the front-camera, you can activate the 'Live Focus' option to achieve a DSLR-like portrait photo. Users can readjust the blur-intensity even after taking the photo. There's some preloaded stickers and a beautification mode to make your selfies look much better. Samsung Galaxy A8+ takes pretty decent selfies across all light conditions.
Colours, however, seem bit washed in bright light conditions. While 'Live Focus' renders mostly decent portraits, you will have to become really a Pro at it some point as there's a lot of hits and misses before you finally figure the right angle and frame to get good selfies. But the selfie-crazy millennial folks must already be privy to such tactics.
The 16-megapixel camera on the back is equally good. In fact, it's on par with what OnePlus 5T offers. It misses out on Optical Image Stablisation, but nonetheless takes really near-excellent photos at this price point. The zippy auto focus was a pleasant surprise. This helped me take some good macro shots with minimum hassle.
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) is a solid performer as well. From multi-tasking to playing graphic-intensive games, Galaxy A8+ handles everything with ease.
It runs on Samsung's in-house designed and developed Exynos 7885 octa-core processor coupled with 6GB of RAM, Galaxy A8+ feels fast enough for power users.
While I don't have any problems with Samsung's TouchWiz UI which seems leaner but yet loaded with bloatware, it runs dated Android Nougat out-of-the-box. A8+ should be in the queue to get Android Oreo sometime in the future, but the latest software could have made a big difference and given an edge over the competition.
One of the most undersold features of Galaxy A8+ is the battery life. It's fantastic. The smartphone delivers full-day backup on medium to power usage after single charge to full capacity. Note that my use includes extensive messaging over WhatsApp and Slack, extended sessions of browsing and streaming multimedia content, and a fair bit of time spent on playing mobile games. And on busy days add two hours of Google Maps usage.
And anyway you can further personalise battery life by choosing different power saving modes. The Battery section under the Settings shows you insights on your battery usage and further helps you monitor apps that are draining your battery. Sometimes the phone will show notifications on such apps, helping you prevent them hogging battery in the background.
At ₹32,990, Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) is actually a good bargain. It's fast, takes great photos and selfies and delivers great battery life. The design is a bit off but that's a trade off one can easily make for this phone. If you are looking for more options, you may consider HonorView 10 which has received great reviews whereas OnePlus 5T is a tested performer.