The "1-Minute" Review
- So-so performance
- Poor low-light camera performance
- Bloated UI
- Outdated Android software
- Awkward fingerprint scanner
While known for their flagship devices, Samsung also has a mid-tier lineup -- though it sits far behind their well-known Galaxy S series in terms of design and features. With the Galaxy A8 Plus, Samsung is redesigning their mid-tier model to compete in a growing -- and highly competitive -- market.
The phone features a metal and glass design with Samsung’s typical sleek lines and minimalist accents. The phone is also IP68 water resistant and can survive submersion for up to 30 minutes at 1.5 meters (approx. 5 feet).
While the phone is trim, some reviewers found it a bit heavy. It’s large and not a good fit for slim pockets or small hands.
The rear cover also includes the camera with a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner just below it. While reviewers loved the lack of camera bump, they found the placement of the fingerprint scanner frustrating. Instead of resting their finger on the scanner, they rested it on the camera, creating smudges when it was time to take pictures.
The real design updates take place around front. The phone includes a 6-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display featuring Samsung’s “Infinity” screen. This means you’ll find curved glass to the edges of the phone. But don’t expect quite the level of polish they’ve applied to their newest flagships.
Reviewers found the sides of the glass were not as smooth as on pricier releases and the bezels -- both on the sides and ends of the phone -- more substantial. Still, they agreed it looks great and more upscale than most similarly priced competitors.
As expected of Samsung, the screen features inky blacks, punchy colors, and excellent detail. Many reviewers considered the display one of the strongest aspects of the phone.
Processing power is where the phone’s mid-tier designation shows. While the octa-core 2.2Ghz Exynos 7885 processor is no slouch, it’s well behind the flagship options out there. Paired with 4GB to 6GB of RAM depending on the variant you choose, it offers plenty of power for daily use and the average app or media streaming. But it struggles with newer games at high settings. Reviewers had little trouble with stuttering or hanging. However, they recommend going for the 6GB model for added future proofing.
Depending on the variant you choose, you’ll also find 32 to 64GB of internal storage. If you need more room, the phone supports microSD cards up to 256GB. The dual-SIM variant also allows you to insert two SIMs and a microSD card -- a rarity in dual SIM phones.
The software was one of the biggest complaints about the phone. First off, it runs Android 7.1.1. As Android P (9.0) is on the horizon, most reviewers found this unacceptable. Then there’s the Samsung Experience skin. It features a ton of pre-installed apps and UI changes that most reviewers felt were more of a hindrance than a bonus.
Opinions pick back up when it comes to the camera. The single-lens rear 16MP camera with phase detection autofocus performs well in good lighting. In low-light, unfortunately, it struggles, producing blurry, noisy images.
However, the front-facing dual-lens 16MP selfie shooter with an 8MP secondary lens impressed most reviewers. The portrait and wide-angle modes work great and the phone captures great video for chatting and social media use.
There is one puzzling limitation though -- the phone will only record video at 1080p and 30 frames per second. With most mid-tier phones recording 4k video at 30 frames per second and 1080p at 60 frames per second, this is an undeniable shortcoming.
When it comes to battery life, the 3500mAh cell Samsung used appears to be just enough for a solid day of use. You’ll likely end the day with power to spare -- but this isn’t a two-day phone with a single charge. If you find yourself short on charge, the USB Type-C charger included uses Samsung’s adaptive fast charging. That means you can top off from 10% battery in just under one hour.
The phone is a solid option, but it faces stiff competition. And, for that reason, reviewers were hesitant to recommend. Ultimately, it has one of the best designs and displays in the mid-tier market. But if you’re looking for performance and a great camera, most recommend the Honor V10 and OnePlus 5T instead.
TechRadar says “[The phone] doesn't target enthusiasts and it doesn't make many bold claims. It's a phone meant for people who want Samsung's brand name and can't afford its flagships.” Gadget 360 is less optimistic, saying, “... the Galaxy A8+ (2018) definitely can't compete on specifications and cost.”