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Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) Review - Premium Selfie Phone

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In our initial impressions, we discovered that the A8+ is a stunningly designed, IP68 rated near flagship priced device with a 1080p 18:9 near bezel-less display.
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) Review - Premium Selfie Phone
Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) review

On paper, it is a promising premium contender 6GB RAM, IP68 rating, 64GB internal storage, 16MP front and back camera, 3500mAh battery with fast charging and 18:9 aspect ratio Super AMOLED display.

But, with the underspec'd processor and GPU that is priced directly comparable to the Huawei Mate 10 and the OnePlus 5T, the A8+ may have a hard time. 

Let's find out in our full review.


Display Quality

Great AMOLED screen
Great AMOLED screen

The display is a 6-inch Super AMOLED 2220 x 1080 resolution w/ 2.5D curved glass at 408 ppi. The maximum brightness, deep blacks, 1080p resolution and color are among the best in class.

Amazing screen, but not on 2K yet

Super AMOLED is still the best in terms of displays on the mobile phone market. Our only gripe is that the price makes the 1080p resolution in direct competition with the Mate 10's QHD display.

The 2.5D glass is beautiful though fingerprint prone is one of the staples of Samsung's design and it is still one of the best.

It also has a 10-point multi-touch display which makes this versatile for games and apps that make use of multiple touch points simultaneously. It is fast, accurate and responsive. We've never felt that it misread our taps or gestures. 

Audio Quality

Speaker grill on the right side
Speaker grill on the right side

The single right side firing speakers gets loud but can be muffled when a finger covers it. It is interesting that Samsung decided to place it on the right side and not the usual bottom placement.

It is harder to cover the speaker grills at this position than at the bottom though but it gives an unbalanced sound signature when looking at the phone at the portrait orientation. It is fine when viewing the phone in landscape. This however is a nitpick as it gives a similar unbalanced experience when the speaker is only at the bottom. 

We hope Samsung will implement stereo speakers soon.

Otherwise, the sound is good. The details are well defined with some separation. The mids and treble are balanced with more emphasis on the bass. Most people will be happy by this.

Audio quality is good!

For headphones and earphones, we used the stock earphones and our RHA S500i. The stock earphones is good. The sound is louder and is more defined and the small sound stage gives a somewhat immersive experience. It does however have similar treatment to the mids and trebles as with the speaker. The bass is also prominent here. 

The microphones are clear and clean enough for calls and recordings. We never had an issue or a caller comment that our voice had concerns during calls.

Battery Life

More than 13 hours from the battery benchmarks!
More than 13 hours from the battery benchmarks!

In our usual PC Mark battery benchmark though it was rated for more than 13 hours. The GPU and processor may not be that powerful but they are efficient coupled with the 1080p display. Even the Samsung flagships struggle getting these results.

Strong battery performance!

In our daily use of email, texting, calling, social media interactions, YouTube streaming, we were getting 9 to 10 hours of on screen time with LTE and LTE hotspot. We would unplug the phone at 8AM and end our day at 6PM at 20 to 25 percent battery left. 

It has the standard battery saving modes where it lowers performance and background tasks to improve longevity. It includes a regular power saving mode that will darken the screen and disconnect you to WiFi, data or Bluetooth and smart-saving that consumes less power.

Charging time is under 90 minutes! It is fast charge compatible The charging plug is a 2 ampere 5 volt charger.

Camera

Main camera at the back
Main camera at the back

The A8+ is equipped with a single 16MP f/1.7 w/ PDAF and LED flash for the rear camera.

It has the usual Pro, Panorama, Photo, Sports, Animated GIF, Rear cam selfie, night and food modes. You can also seamlessly transition from one camera to the next and to video mode quickly. 

The standard auto photo and panorama mode work well as expected from a Premium Samsung device.

The Pro mode has controls for exposure compensation, ISO, metering and white balance. ISO can be set from 100 to 800. Not the most robust Pro mode out there.

In daylight, the images have good resolution, good color, decent dynamic range and decent contrast. 

In low light, the grain is more noticeable but it is way less than most phones on the market. The resolution, color, contrast and dynamic range do not take too much of a hit. This phone is surprisingly good in low light!

The LED flash is there for the main camera and a screen flash for the selfie if you need it.  Both are strong enough to illuminate any subject within 2 feet.

Rear Camera Samples

Daylight
Close-up
Close-up
Indoor
Indoor dim
Indoor dim
Indoor close-up dim 1
Indoor close-up dim 1
Indoor close-up dim 2
Indoor close-up dim 2
Lowlight
Lowlight

On the other hand, it carries the a dual lens set up of 16MP f/1.9 + 8MP f/1.9 w/ screen flash for the selfie camera. 

Modes like wide selfie and Live Focus (bokeh) mode were added. The wide selfie is a panorama mode for selfies that allows you to turn the phone and it will stitch the images in post.

The Live Focus mode on the other hand is one of the better out of focus/bokeh effects out there. Not on par with the Google Pixel 2 or the Note 8, but it is near them. There are also controls for 8 levels of smoothening the face beauty mode.

The image quality is nearly identical if not better than the main camera as well where we find the resolution, color, contrast, and dynamic range to be good in daylight. It is one of the better cameras in the price range. 

The low light selfie images are on par or better than the main camera. We find that even though the selfie scene had little light, the auto mode always found a way to make the images appear well exposed. Great low light performance.

Selfie Camera Samples

Selfie daylight
Selfie daylight
Selfie indoor 1
Selfie indoor 1
Selfie indoor 2
Selfie bokeh lowlight (Live Focus)
Selfie bokeh lowlight (Live Focus)
Selfie lowlight
Selfie lowlight

For videos the rear and front selfie cameras shoot up to 1080p without the choice of frame rates.

There is image stabilization but only electronic and it only works when shooting video in FHD.

The video quality is very good. The resolution, colors, contrast fair very well in daylight and low light. We love how smooth it is even for 30fps. We did wish it had OIS and not EIS though. Hand wobbles are still very off-putting. Otherwise, the footage is pretty good.

Video Samples


Performance

AnTuTu 7 and Geekbench scores!
AnTuTu 7 and Geekbench scores!

The phone packs the 2.2GHz 64-bit Exynos 7885 octa-core processor with the Mali-G71 MP2 plus 6GB of RAM makes this phone perform decently with most tasks and some multitasking but in comparison with the similarly priced competition, the benchmark scores are underwhelming.

Decent performance, but falters to competition!

The result is smooth minor tasks, limited but good multitasking and good gaming frame rates at medium to high settings.


For gaming, the phone is able heavy games like Asphalt 8 at high settings without problem. NBA is playable at high settings with minor frame drops.

The phone does get warm after 30 minutes of gameplay. Not alarmingly hot, just warm. It's not too much of a problem. We never had problems with lag or force closures when playing a game. More demanding games may have hiccups though.
Clean Android skin
Clean Android skin

Equipped with the latest Android 7.1.1 based skin that is inherited from the Note 8. It is the best looking skin of Samsung yet. It is fast and smooth with daily tasks but is still bogged down by the long list of features that get buried under menus upon menus. For most people, being able to use and find the settings you want to change. However, TouchWiz was worse before. We hope Samsung will find a way to simplify it like the stock Android skin.

The fingerprint scanner is one of fastest we've tested yet while the Face Unlock is faster and more accurate too! We were surprised at how good the face unlock is on this phone. We find this on par or slightly better than the Note 8. The iris scanner on the other hand is still a hit or miss.

Telephone connectivity is good with strong signal and steady 4G data connectivity. There's the usual WiFi, Bluetooth and GPS as well that never failed us.

Pros - Flagship build and design, great stills and video camera for day and low light, good battery life, fast charging, comes with a bumper case
Cons - 1080p display at premium price, videos up to 1080p 30fps only, limited pro mode, underwhelming performance at premium price point

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy A8+ (2018) is a flagship level designed phone with premium build materials and quality that has an 18:9 1080p display and 6GB RAM that takes great daylight and low light rear and selfies stills and video that is only bogged down by the underwhelming performance of the processor and GPU compared to the competition.

The processor and GPU are powerful but the competition is far better in comparison which is hard to justify the PHP 32,990 price tag. If the processor and GPU were more powerful, if the price was lower, or if it was subsidised by a carrier only then could we recommend this phone.

Build / Design - 4.5
Display - 4
Audio - 4.25
Battery - 4.5
Camera - 4.5
Performance - 3.75
Average - 4.25 / 5
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