Samsung steps up the midrange with the A8

Samsung may well be known for its high-end flagship phones, but that’s not all it makes, and with the latest generation of A-series, it wants to get some of the features from its big phones to trickle down.

New phones tend to get all the fun and exciting things, but eventually, that stuff makes its way to a price point that’s a little more friendly for everyone.

The midrange is often regarded as that area, followed by budget offerings, and while what constitutes as smartphone “midrange” pricing has changed a little over the years, it seems that 2018 is the year that mobile makers are bringing 2017’s big deal features to better price points.

Remember last year’s Galaxy S8? It doesn’t seem all that long ago, and while the Galaxy S9 improved things, Samsung’s midrange “A” series is 2017 didn’t get the benefits seen in the S series last year (although in fairness, the A7 arrived after the S8).

This year, however, some of that tech is trickling down into a more affordable price point, as the Samsung A series adopts the super tall screen of the S series and throws in support for Samsung’s Gear VR platform as well.

And while last year saw two Galaxy A phones, this year Samsung is only bringing one to Australia, arriving in the Galaxy A8.

“The Galaxy A8 is an exciting product for Samsung, offering a beautiful form and design, rich feature set, and sophisticated smartphone experience that Australians have come to expect from a Galaxy device,” said Garry McGregor, Vice President of IT and Mobile at Samsung in Australia.

From a design point of view, you’re going to see more or less what is basically a clone of the Galaxy S phones, offering a metal and glass body without the curved screen from the S8 and S9. There’s also a different display here, delivering another Super AMOLED screen, but this time using a 5.6 inch display with a Full HD+ resolution of 2220×1080. While that’s not as high res a screen as seen in the Galaxy S8 or S9, it’s still high enough to deliver over 400 pixels per inch, so good luck pixel peeping unless you’re up close.

You can get up close, though, with support for Samsung’s Gear VR headset in this phone, meaning you can slot it in Samsung’s virtual reality headset and experience entertainment in a virtual environment.

Under the hood, the Galaxy A8 definitely comes off as midrange, delivering 32GB storage, a microSD slot to expand that, an eight-core processor made by Samsung, and 4GB RAM to work with Android 7.1.1 “Nougat”.

In fact that last one is the one part of the phone we’re a little unsure by, because Android 8 has been out for almost a year, and so new phones should arrive with that operating system, especially from top tier manufacturers like this one. Not every Android phone has Android 8 “Oreo” on it yet, but we’re a little surprised that it’s not included from the box, especially when so much of the package appears to be good.

Case in point, with Bluetooth 5.0, 802.11a/b/g/n/ac WiFi, Type C charging, Near-Field Communication, GPS, and a 16 megapixels camera on either side of the phone, not to mention a fingerprint sensor and a water resistance rating of IP68, the Samsung Galaxy A8 has a reasonably solid amount of tech going for it, so why it has the older version of Android and not the current one, that we’re not sure.

We’re checking with Samsung on that and when potentially the update is coming, but you’ll find the Galaxy A8 in stores now for a recommended retail price of $649.

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