The A8 is at the top of the ‘A’ series and not only takes some of my favourite bits from the S8, but also gives some clues about what the S9 might offer.
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 a slimmed down bezel. The screen doesn’t curve like the S8, but it looks great and is the perfect size if you don’t want to carry around a really big phone.
Actually, in general, the size of this phone is just about perfect. It’s the size of an iPhone 8, but with a noticeably bigger screen. The metal body wraps arounds the sides with a slightly rounded finish too, 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 bit smaller will likely set it apart.
If you’ve used an S8 and S8 Plus 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 we’ll see on the S9, the scanner now sits below the camera on the back and as a result is a lot easier to hit. It’s still a tad on the small size and an odd shape, but it’s still a massive improvement.
Another feature that Samsung could have ditched is an IP-rating, but it hasn’t – the A8 is IP68 rated for water and dust resistance.
During my time with the phone the Samsung reps said how it focused a lot on the cameras here. There’s a 16MP, f/1.7 sensor on the back, and dual cameras on the front. Selfies are a big deal here and the combination of a 16MP (f/1.9) and 8MP (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 here and it worked well during my short demo – giving you deeper control about how much blur you want.
Running the show is an Exynos 7785 (this will likely be switched for a Snapdragon variation in the USA) processor, along with 4GB RAM. This won’t match phones like the OnePlus 5T for sheer grunt, but will be powerful enough to play games and usual day-to-day stuff. 32GB storage comes as standard, but the microSD slot will take cards up to 256GB.
A 3000mAh battery sits inside the phone, which should be enough for a day of use, and it supports fast charging through the USB-C port. There’s no wireless charging, though.
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 a lot 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.