Samsung Galaxy A8 Review

Introduction


Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
With the rise of Chinese smartphones offering great value for the money, Samsung has been bleeding sales and it needed to take measures.

In early 2015, it brought its answer to the emerging threat from China: the Galaxy A series, a family of slim devices with a sturdy metal body and sleek design. After the successful launch of the first trio of A series phones – the Galaxy A3, A5, and A7 – Samsung is now bringing a new addition to the family: the Galaxy A8.

The Galaxy A8 is also the largest one in the series: it comes with a 5.7-inch display, even bigger than the 5.5-inch one on the Galaxy A7. The _phone_ runs on either the Snapdragon 615 system chip or Exynos 5 Octa (we have the latter version for review) with 2GB of RAM, it comes with a 16-megapixel camera with a wide-aperture lens, and it sports a 3050mAh battery.

Those are the specs, but how does all that work in real life? Let’s find out in our full-on review.

In the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy A8
  • Wall charger
  • microUSB Cable
  • User manual
  • SIM ejector tool
  • In-ear headphones

Design

Slim and light, with a sturdy metal frame and the elegant style of the A series, design is one of the strong points of the A8.

Design is the strong point of the Galaxy A series: the Galaxy A8 is a well-built _phone_ with an impressively thin body (just 5.9mm) and a sturdy metal frame that looks great. The phone is also surprisingly lightweight for its size, weighing 5.33oz (151g).

It’s important to note that despite having a 5.7” screen, the Galaxy A8 is narrower than many 5.5” phones (including the popular iPhone 6s Plus). Side bezels measure at just 1.2mm, and overall, the phone is just 76.8mm (3.02”) wide.

The A8 is still definitely on the tall side, towering 158mm (6.22”), and that makes it a hard fit in tight jeans pockets, but even in regular jeans pockets such a tall device would be an uncomfortable annoyance while climbing stairs or moving more actively. Also, we noticed that it’s incredibly easy for the slim and tall gadget to slip out of pockets while you’re sitting, something that commonly happened to us while in the car.

Switching over to buttons, there is the large, rectangular physical home key up front – it's clicky and has nice response. It’s situated between two capacitive buttons that light up a bright white in the dark: the multitasking key is on the left and the back – on the right. The volume keys are on the top left, while the power/lock key - on the top right, and both are very solidly constructed, with a good amount of travel and nice feedback.

There is also a fingerprint scanner of the tap (rather than swipe) type built in the home key up front, but we found it to be a hit or miss. The annoying thing about it is that it won’t read your fingerprint when you press your finger at a bit of an angle. This results in many failed attempts when you’re trying to unlock your phone. We recommend you to register one fingerprint two or even three times – every time at a slightly different angle. This way, the accuracy of reading will improve a lot.

 

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Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy A8
Samsung Galaxy A8
6.22 x 3.02 x 0.23 inches
158 x 76.8 x 5.9 mm
5.33 oz (151 g)

Samsung Galaxy A8

Samsung Galaxy Note5
Samsung Galaxy Note5
6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches
153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm
6.03 oz (171 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note5

Motorola Moto X Style
Motorola Moto X Style
6.06 x 3 x 0.44 inches
153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06 mm
6.31 oz (179 g)

Motorola Moto X Style

Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches
158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm
6.07 oz (172 g)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus


Samsung Galaxy A8 Review

Display

The 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screen on the A8 is sufficiently sharp at 1080 x 1920 pixels, but most impressively, it's very well calibrated with great-looking colors.

The Samsung Galaxy A8 features a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. This results in a pixel density of 386ppi: sharp enough for most people, but do keep in mind that we are dealing with Samsung’s Diamond Matrix pixel arrangement here, so there are less subpixels. This results in slightly jagged edges and very slight pixelization, especially noticeable in monotone color areas.

Those, however, are slight niggles. What makes an even bigger difference in how we perceive a display is good color reproduction. That’s exactly what you get with the Galaxy A8 – it has one of the most color-accurate displays we’ve ever tested.

Color temperature at 6499K is as close as it gets to the 6500K reference mark, and colors are very faithfully adjusted to the sRGB color space, as long as you're using the Basic screen mode. The sRGB space is the color language of the web and Android: all content, photographs and media are created in compliance with it, and that’s why it’s important that phones adhere to this particular standard. In the benchmarks charts below you can notice just that.

The screen on the Galaxy A8 leaves something to be desired in the way of maximum brightness, as it can go as high as 339 nits, which is considerably lower than the Galaxy S6's 560 nits.. Still, the screen tends to be readable outdoors, as long as the sun isn't reflecting directly in the glass. At night, minimum brightness falls down to 1 nit, which makes the screen easier on the eyes, which is an advantage for night birds.

There are two slight niggles in the overall nearly perfect picture around the Galaxy A8 display quality: first, greens are just ever so slightly more overwhelming than the blues and the reds, and one does notice this slight tint. Secondly, the screen has a slightly lower gamma than standard at 2.06. A lower gamma like this results in slightly washed out colors in images.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Meizu m2 note 627
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
1:1102
(Good)
6809
(Excellent)
2.32
2.97
(Good)
2.37
(Good)
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 593
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1407
(Excellent)
7018
(Good)
2.19
2.32
(Good)
2.76
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 502
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6658
(Excellent)
2.12
2.59
(Good)
3.12
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy Note5 470
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6722
(Excellent)
2.09
1.32
(Excellent)
1.94
(Excellent)
LG G4 454
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
1:1930
(Excellent)
8031
(Poor)
2.24
4.36
(Average)
7.28
(Average)
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 424
(Good)
3
(Excellent)
1:1412
(Excellent)
7585
(Average)
2.01
2.64
(Good)
5.93
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A8 339
(Average)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6499
(Excellent)
2.06
1.49
(Excellent)
2.98
(Good)
Meizu MX5 335
(Average)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6924
(Excellent)
2.28
7.7
(Average)
4.43
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Meizu MX5 57%
0%
unmeasurable
24.4%
0.4%
20.9%
173.6%
Samsung Galaxy Note5 60.4%
50%
unmeasurable
5.7%
2.4%
281.1%
128.9%
Samsung Galaxy A8 61.4%
0%
unmeasurable
19.9%
1%
234.9%
205%
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 73.5%
0%
unmeasurable
14.8%
0.9%
67.2%
150.3%
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 81.6%
66.7%
82.6%
11.3%
9.5%
45.8%
40.1%
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 84.7%
80%
89.2%
1%
11.9%
15.1%
46%
LG G4 86.8%
50%
90.3%
5.4%
0.9%
7.3%
28.6%
Meizu m2 note 90%
0%
81.9%
14.7%
0.9%
7.1%
135%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Samsung Galaxy A8 Review

Introduction


Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
With the rise of Chinese smartphones offering great value for the money, Samsung has been bleeding sales and it needed to take measures.

In early 2015, it brought its answer to the emerging threat from China: the Galaxy A series, a family of slim devices with a sturdy metal body and sleek design. After the successful launch of the first trio of A series phones – the Galaxy A3, A5, and A7 – Samsung is now bringing a new addition to the family: the Galaxy A8.

The Galaxy A8 is also the largest one in the series: it comes with a 5.7-inch display, even bigger than the 5.5-inch one on the Galaxy A7. The phone runs on either the Snapdragon 615 system chip or Exynos 5 Octa (we have the latter version for review) with 2GB of RAM, it comes with a 16-megapixel camera with a wide-aperture lens, and it sports a 3050mAh battery.

Those are the specs, but how does all that work in real life? Let’s find out in our full-on review.

In the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy A8
  • Wall charger
  • microUSB Cable
  • User manual
  • SIM ejector tool
  • In-ear headphones

Design

Slim and light, with a sturdy metal frame and the elegant style of the A series, design is one of the strong points of the A8.

Design is the strong point of the Galaxy A series: the Galaxy A8 is a well-built phone with an impressively thin body (just 5.9mm) and a sturdy metal frame that looks great. The phone is also surprisingly lightweight for its size, weighing 5.33oz (151g).

It’s important to note that despite having a 5.7” screen, the Galaxy A8 is narrower than many 5.5” phones (including the popular iPhone 6s Plus). Side bezels measure at just 1.2mm, and overall, the phone is just 76.8mm (3.02”) wide.

The A8 is still definitely on the tall side, towering 158mm (6.22”), and that makes it a hard fit in tight jeans pockets, but even in regular jeans pockets such a tall device would be an uncomfortable annoyance while climbing stairs or moving more actively. Also, we noticed that it’s incredibly easy for the slim and tall gadget to slip out of pockets while you’re sitting, something that commonly happened to us while in the car.

Switching over to buttons, there is the large, rectangular physical home key up front – it's clicky and has nice response. It’s situated between two capacitive buttons that light up a bright white in the dark: the multitasking key is on the left and the back – on the right. The volume keys are on the top left, while the power/lock key - on the top right, and both are very solidly constructed, with a good amount of travel and nice feedback.

There is also a fingerprint scanner of the tap (rather than swipe) type built in the home key up front, but we found it to be a hit or miss. The annoying thing about it is that it won’t read your fingerprint when you press your finger at a bit of an angle. This results in many failed attempts when you’re trying to unlock your phone. We recommend you to register one fingerprint two or even three times – every time at a slightly different angle. This way, the accuracy of reading will improve a lot.


Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy A8
Samsung Galaxy A8
6.22 x 3.02 x 0.23 inches
158 x 76.8 x 5.9 mm
5.33 oz (151 g)

Samsung Galaxy A8

Samsung Galaxy Note5
Samsung Galaxy Note5
6.03 x 3 x 0.3 inches
153.2 x 76.1 x 7.6 mm
6.03 oz (171 g)

Samsung Galaxy Note5

Motorola Moto X Style
Motorola Moto X Style
6.06 x 3 x 0.44 inches
153.9 x 76.2 x 11.06 mm
6.31 oz (179 g)

Motorola Moto X Style

Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches
158.1 x 77.8 x 7.1 mm
6.07 oz (172 g)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus


Samsung Galaxy A8 Review

Display

The 5.7-inch Super AMOLED screen on the A8 is sufficiently sharp at 1080 x 1920 pixels, but most impressively, it's very well calibrated with great-looking colors.

The Samsung Galaxy A8 features a 5.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 1080 x 1920 pixels. This results in a pixel density of 386ppi: sharp enough for most people, but do keep in mind that we are dealing with Samsung’s Diamond Matrix pixel arrangement here, so there are less subpixels. This results in slightly jagged edges and very slight pixelization, especially noticeable in monotone color areas.

Those, however, are slight niggles. What makes an even bigger difference in how we perceive a display is good color reproduction. That’s exactly what you get with the Galaxy A8 – it has one of the most color-accurate displays we’ve ever tested.

Color temperature at 6499K is as close as it gets to the 6500K reference mark, and colors are very faithfully adjusted to the sRGB color space, as long as you're using the Basic screen mode. The sRGB space is the color language of the web and Android: all content, photographs and media are created in compliance with it, and that’s why it’s important that phones adhere to this particular standard. In the benchmarks charts below you can notice just that.

The screen on the Galaxy A8 leaves something to be desired in the way of maximum brightness, as it can go as high as 339 nits, which is considerably lower than the Galaxy S6's 560 nits.. Still, the screen tends to be readable outdoors, as long as the sun isn't reflecting directly in the glass. At night, minimum brightness falls down to 1 nit, which makes the screen easier on the eyes, which is an advantage for night birds.

There are two slight niggles in the overall nearly perfect picture around the Galaxy A8 display quality: first, greens are just ever so slightly more overwhelming than the blues and the reds, and one does notice this slight tint. Secondly, the screen has a slightly lower gamma than standard at 2.06. A lower gamma like this results in slightly washed out colors in images.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Meizu m2 note 627
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
1:1102
(Good)
6809
(Excellent)
2.32
2.97
(Good)
2.37
(Good)
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 593
(Excellent)
5
(Excellent)
1:1407
(Excellent)
7018
(Good)
2.19
2.32
(Good)
2.76
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 502
(Excellent)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6658
(Excellent)
2.12
2.59
(Good)
3.12
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy Note5 470
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6722
(Excellent)
2.09
1.32
(Excellent)
1.94
(Excellent)
LG G4 454
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
1:1930
(Excellent)
8031
(Poor)
2.24
4.36
(Average)
7.28
(Average)
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 424
(Good)
3
(Excellent)
1:1412
(Excellent)
7585
(Average)
2.01
2.64
(Good)
5.93
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A8 339
(Average)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6499
(Excellent)
2.06
1.49
(Excellent)
2.98
(Good)
Meizu MX5 335
(Average)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6924
(Excellent)
2.28
7.7
(Average)
4.43
(Average)
View all

The numbers below represent the amount of deviation in the respective property, observed when a display is viewed from a 45-degree angle as opposed to direct viewing.

Maximum brightness Lower is better Minimum brightness Lower is better Contrast Lower is better Color temperature Lower is better Gamma Lower is better Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Meizu MX5 57%
0%
unmeasurable
24.4%
0.4%
20.9%
173.6%
Samsung Galaxy Note5 60.4%
50%
unmeasurable
5.7%
2.4%
281.1%
128.9%
Samsung Galaxy A8 61.4%
0%
unmeasurable
19.9%
1%
234.9%
205%
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 73.5%
0%
unmeasurable
14.8%
0.9%
67.2%
150.3%
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 81.6%
66.7%
82.6%
11.3%
9.5%
45.8%
40.1%
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 84.7%
80%
89.2%
1%
11.9%
15.1%
46%
LG G4 86.8%
50%
90.3%
5.4%
0.9%
7.3%
28.6%
Meizu m2 note 90%
0%
81.9%
14.7%
0.9%
7.1%
135%
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

This measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

Let’s put it straight: TouchWiz on the Galaxy A8 is slow. It stutters way too often and in way too many places.

The Galaxy A8 features Android 5.1 Lollipop with Samsung’s custom TouchWiz interface on top. TouchWiz seems to have been getting lighter recently, and its performance is improved in Samsung’s best-selling devices like the Galaxy S6 and Note5, but here, there are some seriously annoying issues.

Let’s put it straight: TouchWiz on the Galaxy A8 is slow. It stutters way too often and in way too many places.

You would expect that an upper mid-range phone – like the Galaxy A8 – in 2015 would at least be able to run without a stutter in the basic apps that everyone uses on a daily basis, but that’s not the case.

The phone stutters in various places: it takes an annoying few moments for the keyboard to show up in messaging and browser, pressing the multitasking button has you waiting a few moments before the cards show up, and even the dialer often takes a few extra moments to start.

This does not even touch on the Samsung Flipboard app that appears as the left-most home screen. Swiping to that screen instantly freezes that phone for a split second and moving around in news happens in jitters. Worse yet, accidentally swapping to Flipboard and then trying to get back to your regular home screen results in a freeze for a few moments again. For all this, we recommend just disabling Flipboard by long pressing on the home screen, swiping left to Flipboard, and unchecking the box on top.

For all else, TouchWiz is a familiar affair with its colorful, cartoonish style and a mixture of influences – Material Design floating buttons are mixed with the Tizen-inspired settings menu and notifications drawer, and all of that comes together in a weird, incoherent aesthetic.

We have also paid the Themes Store a visit on the Galaxy A8. While there are a couple of good themes in the theme store (the one with stock Material Design looks in particular), the majority of themes are half-baked attempts at customization with questionable style and absurdly incomplete icon packs. Themes are a great idea in theory, but after trying a few of them, we’re left with disappointed with their quality and with a bitter after-taste.

Processor and Memory

The Galaxy A8 will run on either the Snapdragon 615 or Exynos 5 Octa, with 2GB of RAM. Unlike daily tasks, it does fairly well in gaming.

The Samsung Galaxy A8 comes in two versions: one that runs on the Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 and a second with the Exynos 5 Octa 5430 system chip. Both come with 2GB of RAM. We have the Exynos version up for review.

Interestingly, despite scoring well in benchmarks, we’re seeing those stutters in core apps that are used by people on a daily basis.

It’s worth noting that the stuttery performance seems to have a lot to do with TouchWiz itself, since in even more demanding games, the Galaxy A8 handled itself well and managed to run at pleasingly smooth frame rates (we played Asphalt 8 and Blocky Roads). Take a look at the benchmark score below to get a better understanding of the theoretical peeks of the Exynos 5 Octa chip here.

The Galaxy A8 comes in two versions: a 16GB and a 32GB one (we have the 32GB version up for review and it comes with around 23GB of user available space), both supporting expandable storage via a microSD card slot. The Galaxy A8 we got to test was a dual-SIM phone: the two SIM slots are separate, and the second SIM slot can serve to either read a SIM card or a microSD card, so you have the choice of using the phone either as a single SIM phone with a microSD card or as a dual SIM phone with no microSD card support.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 69306
Samsung Galaxy Note5 67207
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 58664
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 53798
LG G4 50330
Samsung Galaxy A8 48411
Meizu MX5 43249.3
Meizu m2 note 30359.33
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 2461
Samsung Galaxy Note5 2532
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 2494
LG G4 2369
Samsung Galaxy A8 1563
Meizu MX5 1429
Meizu m2 note 916.33
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 5120
Samsung Galaxy Note5 5476
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 4737
LG G4 3948
Samsung Galaxy A8 3874
Meizu MX5 2238.3
Meizu m2 note 1660.33
Sunspider
Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 675.2
Samsung Galaxy Note5 677.7
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 218.2
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 663.9
LG G4 730.2
Samsung Galaxy A8 698.1
Meizu m2 note 1499.8
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 37
Samsung Galaxy Note5 37
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 59
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 35
LG G4 25
Samsung Galaxy A8 30
Meizu MX5 26
Meizu m2 note 11
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 15
Samsung Galaxy Note5 15
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 38.4
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 17
LG G4 9.4
Samsung Galaxy A8 14
Meizu MX5 4.7
Meizu m2 note 4.1
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 1790
Samsung Galaxy Note5 1765
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 2032
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 1614
LG G4 1549
Samsung Galaxy A8 1093
Meizu MX5 974
Meizu m2 note 720
Geekbench 3 single-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 1503
Samsung Galaxy Note5 1431
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 2526
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 1176
LG G4 1112
Samsung Galaxy A8 937
Meizu MX5 842
Meizu m2 note 550.33
Geekbench 3 multi-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 5134
Samsung Galaxy Note5 4717
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 4404
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 4256
LG G4 3559
Samsung Galaxy A8 3379
Meizu MX5 3415
Meizu m2 note 2529
View all

Internet and Connectivity

The A8 has 4G LTE connectivity with a limited support of bands.

The Galaxy A8 features both a custom browser and Google’s mobile Chrome. The Samsung browser is a familiar affair for everyone who’s ever had contact with TouchWiz: it renders pages well and is fairly fast in loading them, but we find its interface less visually appealing and less convenient than Chrome. Chrome also supports effortless syncing across multiple devices and features a neat, fast, card-based tab switching. Scrolling around web pages on the Galaxy A8 is a bit stuttery, but not downright slow.

In terms of connectivity, Galaxy A8 features 4G LTE support with limited bands depending on the market. We do recommend you check with local retailers about support for specific bands. You also have the standard dual-channel Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 4.1, and NFC.

Camera

The 16-megapixel main camera is fast and does mostly well, but it's not on par with the best cameraphones we've tested. Selfies turn out good with the 5MP front snapper, while video lacks continuous auto-focus.

The Samsung Galaxy A8 sports a 16-megapixel rear camera with dual LED flash and a 5-megapixel front-facing shooter. Samsung also proudly says that it uses a wide-aperture, f/1.9 lens for both of the cameras. Such a wide aperture allows more light in, which is of great help when you’re shooting indoors or at night.

We’re happy to see the Quick Launch feature on the Galaxy A8. It debuted with the Galaxy S6, and it has quickly become a favorite: simply double click the home button to quickly start the camera application from any place and capture that impromptu moment.

The camera is the typical Samsung app you’ve probably already seen: it comes with heaps of manual controls and even a dedicated Manual shooting mode. The default is a clean and easy to use Auto mode where there are separate buttons for video and image capture, as well as an easy to reach key to switch over to the front camera for a selfie.


The actual images captured by the Galaxy A8 are generally goodlooking: the camera shoots in 4:3 aspect ratio (when using the full 16 megapixels) and it feels fast. It locks focus with relative ease – only very rarely in macros we needed to adjust focus to get it right – and it offers a very neat exposure level control for some quick adjustments. Images come out with generally realistic colors and no major issues, but they are not on the same level as the top smartphone cameras. The most notable issue is lack of dynamics, with particular struggles with highlights that are often burned and not represented properly. HDR capture comes to the rescue in cases where you remember to turn it on (it’s a separate camera mode): it’s slow but does a great job of exposing those burnt highlights properly, while preserving the darker areas of an image. In some images, there is a weird oversharpening going on for a strange, unnatural look, but that is more of an isolated instance (notice the image of the two trees and the blue sky).

The f/1.9 lens does seem to contribute to the feel of pictures as it makes objects separate better from the background and that looks nice.

Indoors, the camera does a very decent job as well: the fast lens captures more light and images turn out fairly sharp in very challenging lighting situations. Colors do appear a bit dull indoors, though. It’s worth saying that the dual LED flash illuminates up images with enough light, but casts a weird green/blue tint to them.

Selfies are captured with a very aggressive beauty mode, but luckily you can turn this down for a more realistic look. Also, you have a very wide, 120-degree view with the front camera and this means that you can easily fit a whole group of people in the selfies. It also means that you have to get the phone very close to your face for a single-person selfie. On the whole, selfies are of very decent quality, with sufficient detail and colors that look realistic for the most part.


Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 1.6
1.9
485
285
Samsung Galaxy Note5 2.1
2.7
842
No data
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 2.1
2.7
791
No data
Meizu MX5 2.6
4.8
562
503
LG G4 2.7
3.9
357
311
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 2.8
4.3
551
522
Samsung Galaxy A8 3
3.6
No data
No data
Meizu m2 note 4
7.9
636
545
View all

Turning over to video, the A8 records video in up to 1080p at 30fps. Videos look okay, but not great: detail is not as sharp as we’re used to seeing in 1080p videos and there are noticeable compression artifacts even in fairly bright conditions. Unfortunately, there is no continuous auto-focus: you need to manually switch the focus by tapping on the screen, which is definitely not convenient. Also, the lack of stabilization results in videos that register every little tremor of the hand, and this constant shakiness is very annoying – this phone is definitely not very suitable for shooting casually while walking. The microphone picks up some side noise, but overall sound quality is clear and there are no major issues here.


Multimedia

The large screen is great for viewing pictures and the usual YouTube video buff. The rear positioned speaker, however, can easily be muted.

The Galaxy A8 is a great device for all kinds of media on the go: its screen is well calibrated, with good-looking colors that make images and video appear great. It’s also about the size: at 5.7 inches, there is a lot of screen space and you’d enjoy watching YouTube videos and reliving moments past in the Gallery app.

Speaking of it, the Gallery app is a standard Samsung affair: it puts your images on a timeline, and you can zoom in and out to navigate around quicker. You have some basic editing options on board, and you can also download the Samsung Photo Editor for slightly trickier tweaks.

The video player is a simple and straightforward affair that gets the job done with no bells and whistles. It played every codec and format we threw at it, and it did not stutter when we moved around the video timeline, fast forwarding or going back.

The music app is also a standard Samsung affair. It does what a music app has to do: categorize your music and present it nicely with album art. We appreciate the good old per-folder navigation method that we still use as we find it easier. Then, it has some tune-up options, including a particularly useful one that adjust the volume of a song to match that of the previous ones, so that some loud tune does not surprise you when it bangs out of the speaker.

There is a single speaker on the back of the phone (right next to the camera), and it’s easy to mute it when you place the handset on its back. This seems to be the worst possible place for a speaker, so we’re not happy with that, but if you don’t block it, the speaker does turn out to be a very loud one. That’s a plus, even though it does not shine particularly bright with sound clarity. There is also support for FM radio on the Galaxy A8, which is still useful in many countries.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Meizu MX5 1.15
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 0.986
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 0.814
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 0.766
LG G4 0.764
Samsung Galaxy Note5 0.609
Samsung Galaxy A8 0.51
Meizu m2 note 0.43
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Meizu MX5 78
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 69.1
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 75.6
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 73.1
LG G4 79
Samsung Galaxy Note5 70.7
Samsung Galaxy A8 79
Meizu m2 note 68
View all


Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Call Quality

Call quality on the Galaxy A8 is with no major flaws: it’s overall good.

Voices in the earpiece are loud enough to hear comfortably even in a noisier environment and there is not too much distortion either, so they appear in their clear, natural tonality.

On the other side of the line, our callers reported also hearing us clearly and sufficiently loud.

Battery life

Battery life is very good and we get around a day and a half in real life, but recharge times are slow.

Its slim size dictates some limitations in the battery pack size, but nonetheless, the Galaxy A8 features a fairly average-sized for its form factor 3050mAh cell. Hidden behind the non-removable back cover, the battery cannot be swapped, so it's even more important for the phone to do well in terms of battery longevity.

Samsung Galaxy A8 Review
Official Galaxy A8 battery stand-by time stands at the below average 12.7 days (304 hours), but in order to fully understand the capabilities of its battery, we had to test it ourselves. Our custom battery test is performed with the display calibrated at 200 nits. Then, we run a custom script specifically made to simulate typical smartphone use and loads.

So how does the Galaxy A8 battery does in our test? Not too bad at all: with a score of 8 hours and 49 minutes (this is the time the phone lasts with the script running non-stop, with the screen always on), the A8 does better than the majority of its rivals, but still fails to reach the very best battery performers.

In real life, our impressions are that the phone will easily last a full day even under heavier use. It typically takes us around a day and a half until we need to recharge the phone. The Ultra Power Saving Mode that we know from early 2014 is also on board, so you can switch it on and have a crippled smartphone experience with a black-and-white interface, but also one that will last you for hours on single digit battery percentage and allow you to take and make a call when you need that.

Finally, when it comes to recharging, the Galaxy A8 lacks quick charging and it takes a whopping two hours and 24 minutes for it to fully recharge from 0 to 100%. Take a look at how these numbers compare to its rivals right below.

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Meizu m2 note 9h 52 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 9h 29 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy Note5 9h 11 min (Excellent)
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 9h 11 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy A8 8h 49 min (Excellent)
Meizu MX5 7h 5 min (Good)
LG G4 6h 6 min (Average)
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 5h 22 min (Poor)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Meizu m2 note 129
Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+ 80
Samsung Galaxy Note5 81
Apple iPhone 6s Plus 165
Samsung Galaxy A8 144
Meizu MX5 160
LG G4 127
Xiaomi Mi Note Pro 93
View all


Conclusion


With a full retail price of some $500, the Galaxy A8 is a bit cheaper than most high-end phones, but not much cheaper. It remains in that top tier of devices and as such expectations for it are high.

On a positive note, the Galaxy A8 does deliver in terms of looks: it’s impressively slim and light, with a narrow side bezels that make it fairly comfortable to use despite its large, 5.7” display (it's still a big phone that does not fit well in tight jeans pockets). And the screen is good as well – it has very accurate and pleasing colors in Basic screen mode, although its maximum brightness leaves something to be desired. Battery life is also not too shabby and the phone will last you easily a day, and most likely, a day and a half.

With that, most of the good things are over: the Galaxy A8 feels slow! We don’t know whether we should blame TouchWiz or the Exynos 5 Octa chip inside, but there are way too many places where the phone just stutters for a few moments before going back to normal. This is not okay for a $500 phone – in this day and age, we expect a minimum of smooth performance, while the Galaxy A8 feels more stuttery than some entry-level phones that we’ve tested recently.

Then, there is the camera. It’s a mixed bag: images are mostly good, but video has no continuous autofocus or features that we’ve come to expect like slow motion. We also have issues with the fingerprint scanner that rarely recognizes our fingerprint from the first time. On top of that, TouchWiz remains a bit of a mess that feels like it’s undergoing an endless transformation, while features like the Theme Store are filled with low-quality content.

With all these issues, the Galaxy A8 is a beautiful but somewhat overpriced and undercooked creation.



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