Samsung Galaxy A8 impressions: For those who've always wanted the S8

MANILA, Philippines – Just based on the number of times we've compared the Galaxy S8 to many other phones that came after it, you know that the device was a pretty popular unit. And for good reason: nothing else in the market looks quite like it,  and of course, it has the performance you'd want out of a flagship. 

The only problem was, it was also beyond the budget for many of us. It launched at P38,000 last year for the standard model. But boy did we want one. 

Nearly a year after the S8's unveiling, and with the forthcoming announcement of its successor, the S9, Samsung's come out with a device that approximates the S8 experience: the 2018 version of the Galaxy A8.

It's a P27,000 (officially P26,995) phone with the S8's "Infinity Display," Samsung's fancy term for its 18.5:9 aspect ratio display. 

Going for a quick look at the A8, it does carry the S8 DNA, sporting a similar build quality; a similar feel especially at the back; and it even has an always-on display like the Samsung flagships. Left on a table, you'll be forgiven for thinking that it's an S8. 

However, once you light up the screen, that's when you'll figure out you're holding a different phone. There's no glass curving right up to the sides, and the top and bottom bezels will feel relatively thick, if you're one to have obsessed over the S8.

But don't get us wrong: it still looks good, and the nicely rounded corners of the screen make for a nice touch. This observation is based more on how good the S8 looked rather than a direct criticism on the A8. Barring any comparison to the higher-priced models, the A8 does look good enough. If the bezels would've been slightly slimmer though, it would've scored a higher recommendation. 

What's great though is that it's not just looks that the A8 takes from the S8. The look of the photos it takes appears similar to that of the S8's – the saturation, the colors, the sharpness have that S8 look. The A8 also takes the S8's user interface, along with the same home, multitasking, and back buttons.

Like the S8, it has Bixby, Samsung's virtual assistant (although it doesn't have the dedicated Bixby button), face recognition, IP68 water and dust-resistance, and 4GB of RAM (6GB for the Plus version).

Compared to the standard S8's 64GB of memory, the standard memory for the A8 is 32GB. The A8 Plus though has 64. The A8 has an octa-core processor too but runs at slower clock speeds than the S8's. 

All that said, at P27,000, it's tricky to recommend the A8 100%. Move up the price scale a bit, and there are options such as the Mate 10 with a top-of-the-line processor and others with more memory and maybe even better processors. If it's the S8 you're after (which is the audience the A8 may have been designed for), why not just wait a little more for the S8's price to go down, especially with the looming announcement of the Galaxy S9?

So while the A8 is solid, good-looking, has an impressive camera, and it has the Samsung name attached to it, it's beset on both sides – slightly cheaper ones below it, and slightly more expensive ones above it – by other options that are offering attractive packages too.

At P25,000, this one may have been easier to recommend, so give this one some thought and weigh the options before you decide to splurge on this one. – 

Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.