Announced, Samsung's classy new Galaxy A8 phone has started popping up in more countries. Singapore's one of the first markets that will be getting the phone, in August, while Samsung's home country of South Korea is set to welcome the A8 tomorrow, July 24.
In Singapore, Samsung will sell the phone for S$698 without contract -- that converts to around $510, £330 or AU$690 -- and is positioning the phone as a mid-to-high end device. While there's no word yet on which other markets the A8 will hit, Samsung is likely to spread this beautiful metal device to countries such as the US and UK.
While the Galaxy A8 does resemble the Samsung Galaxy S6, its flagship phone wasn't the first time the company tried out metal. The, for example, luxuriated in a metal frame, and the A8 shares more in common with that phone.
In particular, the sides are curved inwards at the bottom, which looks to be a feature of the A series and are quite unlike the curved rounded frame of the S6. However, the overall look is very "Samsung", so you'd quickly know at one glance it's a thoroughbred.
One feature that the Korean company is touting is the slimness of the A8, and at 5.9mm (0.23 inch) thick, it's one of the thinnest phones I've seen (though there are thinner handsets around, such as the, which probably still holds the slimness crown at 4.85mm). It also weighs just 5.3 ounces (151 grams), so little you can barely feel it.
I quite like how the phone feels -- the soft-touch rear gives it quite a good grip while feeling pretty silky. It's quite unlike how the S6' glass rear feels, but that's no bad thing, and shows how Samsung is trying to differentiate between the phones.
Hardware and software
The A8 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 octa-core processor clocked at 1.8GHz. This chip is usually found on midrange devices, and given previous experiences with phones sporting this chip, I'm none too worried about performance.
Other specs include a brilliant 5.7-inch full-HD Super AMOLED display, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of onboard storage and a large embedded 3,050mAh battery. The phone has dual-SIM 4G capabilities that support Cat 6 LTE, which allows for data download speeds of up to 300Mbps, but means it will not work on 4G networks in the US. You will, however, be able to connect to networks such as Three and EE in the UK, and Optus and Vodafone in Australia. If this gets an official launch in those countries, expect all GSM networks to be supported.
One cool thing to note that is if you need more storage, one of the SIM-card slots can be used as a microSD card slot as well, and will give you up to an additional 128GB of space.
Like the S6, the phone sports a rear 16-megapixel camera with LED flash. The front camera is a wide-angle 5-megapixel shooter. Software for both cameras is the usual everything-but-the-kitchen-sink feature set that Samsung includes, such as HDR, Panorama, Beauty Face and Gesture Control.
On the software front, the Galaxy A8 comes running Android 5.1.1 Lollipop right out of the box, but you'll have to deal with Samsung's TouchWiz UI. Depending on the country, Samsung has also bundled some deals in its Samsung Galaxy Life app, such as discounts for food.
Samsung's also touting the business-friendly features of the phone such as secure storage service Knox, though given its beautiful design, it will likely be snapped up by consumers who didn't jump on the S6 when it first launched. The hardware isn't too shabby, and it looks like Samsung has a midrange phone here that can go toe to toe with the cheaper phones from its Chinese competitors. You'll just have to pay a little more for all this lovely metal.