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Samsung Galaxy J8 In-Depth Review – should you get one?

The Galaxy J8 might have proved that it is still a mid-range contender on this day.

Samsung has been gearing up its mid-range offerings lately with its subsequent release of new iterations from its J-series. With the release of Galaxy J2, J4, J6 and now, J8, Samsung might have completed its J-line refresh for 2018.

Arming it with specs comparable to most mid-range smartphones nowadays, we have the chance to check it out in-depth and spend some time with it with our own unit. Here’s our full, in-depth review of the Galaxy J8.


What’s in the box?

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The Samsung J8 comes in a box which was covered with their endorsers’ photo compared to other countries. Like any other Samsung phones, the packaging is a bit simple yet clever since it houses all the essentials under a very small box. Our unit comes in ‘black’, but we’re showing you also photos of the other colors on this review, too.

What’s in the box | Samsung Galaxy J8

On the package is the unit itself, a Quick Start Guide along with the Warranty Card, Charger (not adaptive fast charger), USB-A to micro-USB 2.0 connector, SIM Ejector PIN (besides the charging adapter) as well as Samsung’s stock earbuds. We would appreciate it if Samsung starts switching to USB-C, even on their mid-range devices.

Aside from that, there’s nothing else to talk much about this section, so we’ll go to the next.


Design/Build Impressions

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Galaxy J8 in Lilac Purple color (Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG)

In terms of design, the Galaxy J8 is literally the larger version of the Galaxy J6. The only difference you’ll see on the back is its dual rear cameras instead of the single-camera configuration of the latter.

The back is made of polycarbonate plastic slash metallic material which gives that matte-like finish (no glass/glossy backs and fingerprint-magnet finish). Unlike the A6/A6+, there are no visible antenna bands and there are no further changes in design, which could be a good thing for those who like plain and simple things but may come too bland, for those who like more.

Upfront, the Galaxy J8’s front panel shows the single selfie-shooter up top, with the LED flash on the other side. In the middle is the earpiece. There’s a bezel up top and on the bottom (chin), as Samsung isn’t riding the notch / bezel-less bandwagon at all.

The Galaxy J8 is still easy to grasp and hold using one hand despite it crossing the 6-inches territory. It’s light and is not slipping into your hands, unlike those phones which are equipped with glass backs.

This iteration of the J-series also does check our preference on SIM and expansion slots, as it has a dedicated dual SIM and a microSD card slot. On the bottom, you can see the headphone jack and a microUSB port, which we doubt we’d like to see in 2018.

One of the things we’ve appreciated about Samsung is their implementation of the speaker hole. It’s placed brilliantly on the right side, where the user isn’t blocking the hole when the phone is held in landscape mode. Below the speaker hole is the power button.

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The left side houses the dual SIM and microSD card slots, as well as the volume buttons.

Just like the Galaxy J6, the fingerprint button is also placed symmetrically and nearly the camera lens on the J8. It’s quite fast, at around 0.3-0.5 seconds. It’s also always-on, so you don’t need to wake the screen up before putting your finger on the fingerprint reader. You can also use it to pull down the notification bar, too.

As we’d expect, this phone is also equipped with Samsung’s beloved Super AMOLED display. Like the J6, Samsung is also touting this as Infinity Display but it wasn’t par up to the liking of the S-series (S8/S9).

Another point to consider is that while the display is large in scale, it only has HD+ resolution (720 x 1480), making the texts not looking that crisp unlike the A6+, which had Full HD+. The brightness, on the other hand, isn’t questionable as this is a Super AMOLED panel, and this could be probably Samsung’s strength in the market. It’s bright and visible even on outdoors.


Specifications and Features

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Model:Samsung Galaxy J8
Display:6.0-inch HD+ Super AMOLED Infinity display (1480 x 720 resolution), 18.5:9 aspect ratio
CPU/SoC:Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 octa-core processor @1.8GHz
GPU:Adreno 506
RAM:3GB
ROM/Storage:32GB, expandable via microSD up to 256GB
Rear Cameras:16MP f/1.7 with LED flash
5MP f/1.9
Front Camera:16MP f/1.9 with LED flash
Battery:3500mAh non-removable battery
Connectivity:Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, WiFi Direct, hotspot
Bluetooth 4.2
microUSB 2.0, USB On-The-Go (OTG)
3.5mm headphone jack
Network Bands:4G/voLTE, 3G (HSDPA), 2G (GSM)
SIM Slot:Dual SIM (nano)
Sensors:Fingerprint sensor (rear), GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, accelerometer, gyro, proximity sensor
OS/Software:Android Oreo 8.0
Dimensions & Weight:Size: 159.2 x 75.2 x 8.2 mm
Weight: 177g
Colors:Black, Silver, Purple
Protection / IP Rating:IP Rating: N/A
Other Features:Face Unlock, Dolby Atmos

Camera

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The Galaxy J8 borrows the front camera configuration from the Galaxy A6, having the same 16MP f/1.9 sensor, while the rear configuration seems to be the same as the Galaxy A6+, having 16MP f/1.7 + 5MP f/1.9 lenses on-board. Here are some samples from the rear camera: (raw, not compressed)

Galaxy J8 sample photo (Image: Eljay Reyes/AMG)

The Galaxy J8 captures great photos at well-lit environments, with its cameras producing more detail and reproducing colors in a decent way compared to other phones in this price range (at least, according to what we’ve tested so far). Enable HDR, and you’ll surely get more detail and better color reproduction (see photos above).

However, the story is already different when it comes on night or low-light photography:

On low-light, we’ve noticed a high amount of noise (which could be normal with phone cameras), although we’re not sure if this should be the case on a camera with a f/1.7 aperture. The images started to blur out and the details aren’t that great anymore.

For other samples, see our initial hands-on article.


Software

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As we’ve said earlier on our initial hands-on, Samsung isn’t boasting anything about the software of the Galaxy J8, which is the company’s own touch of Android Oreo (Samsung Experience 8.0) – the same with the other J-series, A-series and S-series flagships. While it may be not the best skin of Android out there, it is likable and is user-friendly. It’s smooth, fast enough and is capable of enhancing the user experience on this phone.

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Personally, I’m a fan of Samsung Experience for its gracious UI, ideal for something who does prefer aesthetics and premium look with their smartphones.

Usual Samsung apps are included, such as their new Samsung Members, Samsung 321 (Emergency App) and some pre-installed Microsoft and Google apps, meaning there’s much lesser bloat than before.

*some apps were installed for the purpose of this review, you’ll find fewer apps on purchase


Performance Test

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The Galaxy J8 sports Qualcomm’s new mid-range chipset, the octa-core Snapdragon 450. Some might say that Snapdragon 625 would do better since both are 14nm processors. This makes performance slightly lower than most Snapdragon 625-equipped midrangers.

We’d run most of the benchmark apps nowadays, and here are the results:

AnTuTu Benchmark: 68,950
Geekbench:

  • 738 (Single-core)
  • 3791 (Multi-core)

3DMark:

  • 441 (Sling Shot Extreme – OpenGL ES 3.1)
  • 390 (Sling Shot Extreme – Vulkan)

Unfortunately, the PCMark app keeps crashing, so we didn’t put any scores from it here.

In terms of battery life, the Galaxy J8 can stand around 9-10 hours of use, with a mixed combination of WiFi and mobile data connectivity (normal use), but could be shorter if you use mobile data solely or go heavy with gaming and video consumption. The 3,500mAh battery charges from 0-100% in around 2 hours and 5 minutes (your mileage may vary) with the phone being turned off.


Conclusion

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The Galaxy J8 might have proved that it is still a mid-range contender on this day.

Samsung’s J-series line for 2018 seems to be targeted towards loyal Samsung fans and users. While there are several devices that actually offer better performance on this price point, the Galaxy J8 might have proved that it is still a mid-range contender on this day.

Aside from the notable downgrade from the Galaxy A6+’s Full HD+ display and front camera as well as only 3GB of RAM from the A6+’s 4GB, there’s nothing to go wrong if you want to pick up the Galaxy J8 instead – for the price, it seems to put the A6+ into a complicated standpoint. If you don’t mind the downgrades from the Galaxy A6+, the Galaxy J8 is surely a compelling option already.

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Unfortunately, the compromises are actually deal-breakers, considering the competition. But if you don’t mind them, you can still get the Galaxy J8 if you’re into (a) dedicated dual-SIM + microSD card slot (b) Super AMOLED display (c) good daylight photography.

Also, with the Galaxy A6 only having almost a thousand-peso in price difference, it would be much recommended to get the J8 instead – since it almost has the same specs but had a better battery pack at 3,500mAh and a larger display.


Pricing and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy J8 is officially priced at PhP15,990. It is now currently available on all Samsung stores and authorized re-sellers, nationwide.

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