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(Pocket-lint) - We love flagship phones, but there's a reason that shelling out for a Galaxy S8 or iPhone 8 can seem a bit of a folly. Why? Because mid-range phones are getting so good. Honor. Moto. Lenovo. Nokia. All produced very decent Android-based devices last year.

Samsung has long produced handsets for a variety of price points, of course, but over the last couple of years the Samsung A Series has become hard to beat thanks to excellent design and decent features.

This new A8 continues that trend and your friends and family won’t catch on to the fact you have a non-flagship. Now, it's worth pointing out that Samsung has made an A8 before (2016) so make sure you don't confuse it with that much older model.

Samsung Galaxy A8: Design and specs

  • Octa-core processor
  • 5.6-inch FHD+ display
  • Water and dust resistant

The infinity display has made its way to the A8, here in a 5.6-inch, 1,080 x 2,220 pixel version (around 440ppi) - last year’s A7 (which didn't come to the UK unlike the A3 and A5) featured a 1,080 x 1,920 5.7-inch screen by comparison. There are still reasonably-sized bezels top and bottom, but the physical home button has gone.

As with the S8, the controls are now part of the display. That means the fingerprint reader has had to move and it's now directly underneath the camera. It could still do with being separated from the camera we think, but it seems marginally better placed than the S8 which has the reader beside the camera.

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As with last year’s Galaxy A7, the screen features Samsung's always-on display mode plus IP68 water and dust resistance.

The A8 can also be used with Gear VR. Once again there's 32GB of storage (expandable, of course) but slightly more RAM than last year, 4GB instead of 3GB. As with the A7, an octa-core processor is utilised. Here it's based around Samsung's own Exynos 7885 chipset which supports Bluetooth 5.0.

Galaxy A8: Cameras

  • Dual front-facing cameras
  • 16-megapixel rear camera
  • 4K video support

The A8 (and its larger sibling, the A8+, not announced for the UK) also bring another toy to the party - Samsung's first dual front-facing cameras, with 16 and 8-megapixel sensors.

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The rear f/1.9 rear snapper is also rated at 16-megapixels.

As with the new Sony Xperia XA2, you can switch between the front cameras to choose the type of selfie you want to take; wide or better quality. Naturally you can adjust the bokeh effect before or after you take the picture to create high-quality images.

There's also image stabilisation for video plus a time-lapse (hyperlapse) feature.

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There is one disappointment, however, and that is that the device carries Android 7.1.1 Nougat rather than Android 8.0 Oreo. Oreo isn't yet out for the S8, though it should pop onto devices soon enough. As Oreo has been confirmed to come to last year’s Galaxy A Series, it’s only a matter of time before it appears on the A8.

The Galaxy A8 will be available in three colours (black, gold and orchid grey) in the UK from April 2018.

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First Impressions

It's hard to recommend someone goes to buy a Galaxy S8 after looking at this phone. For a handset that will be cheaper than a flagship, many would be hard pressed to tell the difference.

Of course that's not the whole story and the S8 has some major advantages over the A Series, with a better screen and more powerful processor. We're really interested to see how much it will cost but expect around the £350 to £400 mark. 

Writing by Dan Grabham. Originally published on 11 January 2018.