Galaxy A8+ (2018) First Impressions: The first smartphones with 18:9 screens debuted at MWC 2017, nearly every manufacturer has jumped on board. This kind of design started out as a novelty, quickly became the trend, and is now pretty much a mainstay of smartphone design. It isn’t any surprise since this is the first time in a very long time that phones have looked any different, and people do feel like they’re getting something better and more modern. Phones with 16:9 screens, (and heaven forbid, actual buttons on the front) do now seem old-fashioned.
First Impressions Samsung gained an early lead with its Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ (Review) at the beginning of last year (though it went with 18.5:9 which it calls “Infinity Display”) and then released the Galaxy Note 8 (Review) six months later, but didn’t seem think the rest of its range deserved the update. Meanwhile, its competitors were clambering over themselves to make sure they didn’t fall behind the curve. Over this past year, we’ve seen dozens of new 18:9 phones launching across the price spectrum. The most notable example of that is OnePlus rushing to replace its barely five-month-old OnePlus 5 (Review) with the OnePlus 5T (Review), just to make sure it didn’t cede even the slightest ground to its competitors.
That makes today’s review subject all the more interesting – the new Galaxy A8+ (2018) is Samsung’s first non-flagship phone to be graced with an Infinity Display, and it’s priced to go right up against the OnePlus 5T. Is Samsung too late to the party, or has it been worth the wait? We’re about to find out.
Galaxy A8+ (2018) First Impressions Review
The Samsung A8+ released in India on January 10 and it goes on sale from January 20 onwards. It is priced at Rs 32,990, and the device will be exclusively available on Amazon.in for online sales.
The new Galaxy A8+ borrows design cues from last year’s flagship — the Note 8. However, the A8+ has a 1080p 6-inch display with 2.5D curved glass on the front. It feels like the Note 8 from the back, except for the camera and fingerprint sensor placement and design.
Since the screen has 18.5:9 aspect ratio and relatively thin bezels, the phone looks modern. At 8.3 mm thickness, we cannot call it a slim phone, but the curved edges on the back do sit nicely in the palm and don’t feel too overbearing.
The front of the phone feels like a mixture of Samsung’s Infinity Display and LG’s Full View implementation. It’s flat and you can see thick sides, where the frame meets the panel. It’s a curve away from being a lower resolution version of the Note 8‘s display.
Unlike the A-series phones launched in 2017, Samsung has increased screen-to-body ratio here by removing the home button and physical navigation keys. It has on-screen navigation keys similar to the S8, but without the pressure sensitive home button under the screen.
There’s glass on the back, but the construction doesn’t feel as good as Samsung’s flagships. Yet, it feels premium for its price. Moreover, it’s IP68 certified, that makes it resistant to dust and water. But the only problem with a glass design is that it’s fragile and prone to fingerprints. We recommend you invest in a case with this one.
Despite Samsung’s ambitious new naming scheme, the A8 Plus (2018) has been launched with Android 7.1.1 Nougat, and not Android 8.0 Oreo. As with the A series of previous years, the newer version of Android will arrive later in the year per firmware update.
As on other Galaxy devices with Android 7.1.1, the A8 Plus (2018) too will come with the Samsung Experience UX version 8.5. This is the same UX as launched with the Galaxy Note 8 last year.
The A8+’s headlining feature is the dual selfie camera — 16MP + 8MP sensor with f/1.9 aperture. The selfies look good in daylight and indoor shots are also handled pretty well. The bokeh effect in portrait mode manages to blur out the background effectively; however, we will keep snapping some more selfies to see how it works in varied lighting conditions.
The 16MP rear shooter is also proficient in managing various kind of situations, churning out good-looking photos. Low-light photos are captured without noticeable noise whereas daylight photos are vibrant. The rear camera also gets to use Bixby Vision, which can identify most objects around you with ease. Stay tuned for our detailed take on the A8+’s camera performance in our final review.
Samsung Galaxy A8’s Exynos 5430 processor with 2GB RAM is the consistent performer, though not the best you can get at this price range. Asus Zenfone Selfie and Zenfone 2 are definitely as fast Galaxy A8, and OnePlus 2 is a lot faster – and all three cost a lot less!
The Galaxy A8 user experience is very smooth, though we did notice some lag in opening apps from time to time. All the apps we used on the smartphone ran without a hitch, as did the resource-consuming Asphalt 8: Airborne. However, we did notice that the smartphone heats up a little when we use the internet for long or play games close to an hour First Impressions.
Samsung Galaxy A8’s fingerprint sensor can be used to unlock the smartphone, as well as to authenticate payments (though the feature has not been rolled out yet). Though you need to press the hardware button in order to wake up the smartphone from sleep, the phone is unlocked as soon as you place your thumb to unlock it.
Release and price
First Impressions Samsung started selling the Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) in markets like Vietnam, South Korea, and the Netherlands in the first week of January 2018. It will be released in other markets across the globe in the following weeks.
Samsung is selling the Galaxy A8 Plus (2018) for €599 or $720. You can expect it to cost about the same in your market.