Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) Hands-on: A Galaxy S8 Mini in all but name

Key Features

  • 5.6-inch FHD+ display
  • 3000mAh battery
  • IP68 rated
  • Exynos 7785 and 4GB RAM
  • 32GB storage
  • Bixby
  • Dual front cameras
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Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) hands-on: A Samsung Galaxy S8 Mini in all but name

Samsung didn’t bring any teasers for its next flagship phone, the Galaxy S9, to CES 2018 in Las Vegas. But it did show off the mid-range Galaxy A8, which will be released worldwide.

Samsung Galaxy A8 (2018) price and release

Samsung wouldn’t confirm a price or release date for the A8, but we’ll update this story when we hear more. The company also announced an A8+ earlier in the year, but this model won’t be released to the UK or US.

The ‘A’ series sits below the ‘S’ series, taking some of its glossier features from its more illustrious siblings and offering them at a lower price. The A8 is at the top of the ‘A’ series; not only does it take some of my favourite bits from the S8, but it also provides some clues about what the S9 might offer.

Related: Samsung Galaxy S8 review

The biggest feature plucked from the S8 is the Infinity Display. The A8 boasts a 5.6-inch Super AMOLED panel with a 1080 x 2220 resolution and slimmed down bezel. The screen doesn’t curve as it does on the S8, but it looks great and is the perfect size if you don’t want to carry around a really big phone.

In fact, I’d say the A8’s size is just about perfect. It’s similar to the iPhone 8, but with a noticeably bigger screen. The metal body wraps arounds the sides, with the slightly rounded finish making it comfortable to hold in one hand. Lots of mid-range phones go big because it’s easier to fit all the components inside, but Samsung’s decision to make it a little smaller will likely set the device apart.

If you’ve used an S8 and S8+ for even a short amount of time, you’ll likely have nightmares about the terrible position of the fingerprint scanner. In a move that I’m sure will translate to the S9, the scanner now sits below the camera on the rear of the device; and as a result it’s far easier to hit. I still believe it’s a tad on the small size – and an odd shape – but it’s still a huge improvement. The A8 is IP68 rated for water- and dust-resistance, too.

During my time with the phone, Samsung’s reps stressed the company’s focus on the cameras. The A8 features a 16-megapixel, f/1.7 sensor on the rear of the device, and dual cameras on the front.

Selfies are a big deal here and the combination of a 16-megapixel (f/1.9) and 8-megapixel (f/1.9) camera on the front lets you take those silky, bokeh-rich snaps that blur the background. The Live Focus feature from the Note 8 is present too; it worked well during my short demo, providing deeper control over the level of blur you want.

Running the show is an Exynos 7785 processor (this will likely be switched for a Snapdragon variation in the USA), along with 4GB of RAM. This doesn’t match phones such as the OnePlus 5T for sheer grunt, but will be powerful enough to play games and carry out the usual day-to-day tasks. 32GB storage comes as standard, and the microSD slot accepts cards up to 256GB.

A 3000mAh battery powers the A8, which should see you through a day of use. The device also offers support for fast-charging through the USB-C port, but there’s no wireless charging to be found.

On the software side of things, everything feels very much like the S8 and Note 8. It’s still running Android 7.1.1 (boooo) but Samsung’s UI layer is far more pleasing than it once was. As you can probably guess, Bixby is a big focus for Samsung and the slightly dodgy assistant is fully baked into the A8. It doesn’t have its own dedicated button – but that’s probably a good thing.

First impressions

Considering Samsung wouldn’t reveal how much the A8 will cost when it hits UK and US shores in the next few months, it’s hard to judge how good it’s going to be. I’d hazard a guess at somewhere between £399-£499, which puts it right in the firing line of the OnePlus 5T, some great devices from Honor, and even a reduced-price S8, if you’re lucky.

Nevertheless, in my opinion, the A8 will be a winner for those looking for an affordable phone on a contract. It looks great, has the air of a flagship phone, and doesn’t really skimp in any obvious area. It might lack the wireless charging and iris-scanning skills of its siblings, but these are luxury features that are far from essential.