Samsung might seem like it’s putting all its resources in the flagship market but it hasn’t completely forgotten the midrange segment. In fact, the Korean company has been steadily releasing devices for this segment. One of the newer smartphones to come out of its stable is the Galaxy J8, which we put to the test in this review.
More of the same. Samsung is keeping it consistent in terms of design with its midrange devices. The J8 fits right in with its simple unibody design. I tested the matte black version and it looks utilitarian and non-descript—which some users would like, while others might find boring. It does feel premium and solid in hand, which I appreciate. It’s also slim and light enough that it doesn’t feel taxing to use for extended periods of time. However, you would need wipe the back of the phone constantly, it’s a bit of a fingerprint magnet. With a 6-inch display, the J8 is also a handful. One-handed use is possible but it isn’t the most comfortable experience. I use both hands more often than not when I use this phone.
Tries to keep you secure. The placement of the fingerprint sensor underneath the dual rear cameras might cause an issue, too. You might end up touching the cameras when you try to unlock the phone. But the J8 offers face unlock so you might not need to tinker around with the fingerprint sensor. Unlocking using both instances feels a bit slower when compared to Samsung’s competitors. Others will let you lift up the phone and it automatically wakes up the screen, with the J8, you need to press on the power button to unlock the phone using the front camera. Fingerprint sensor also feels like it needs a second before it unlocks your device. If you need to keep certain files or apps away from prying eyes, the J8 comes with a Secure Folder feature. Equipped with Knox 3.1, you also get defense-grade mobile protection to avoid falling for potentially harmful privacy breaches.
All that screen. Samsung has been adamant about not putting notches on its display. Despite that, we still get an expansive 6-inch display. And for someone who doesn’t care for the notch, I welcome it. The screen on the J8 is sufficiently bright outdoors, there’s even an outdoor mode that dials up brightness for 15 minutes or more (it’ll turn off automatically after that if you aren’t using the phone). It can also go pretty low so you don’t blind yourself when trying to use the phone in the dark. Unfortunately, there is no auto brightness option here. And the screen, while big, isn’t as crisp as I’d hope it would be. But it’s still a decent display for your daily needs.
Not enough boom. While the screen sets up the J8 to be an entertainment machine, its speakers doesn’t quite live up to this. It’s an underpowered single speaker that isn’t as loud as I want it to be. Don’t expect to get any bass from it either. It’s placed a bit above the power button on the right side of the phone. It’s a weird position but at the same time makes sure that you don’t block the speaker when you have the phone in landscape. Also, you still get a 3.5mm audio jack here, which is a win in my book.
Gets things done, sort of. The J8 isn’t a speed demon but it will help you get work done, for the most part. At quick glance, it will respond as quickly as it can to your taps and swipes. But I’ve noticed that it would hang on me occasionally when I try to switch quickly between apps, even if it’s just one social media app to another. You can also still play games with it like Asphalt 9, but don’t be surprised if you see some frame drops. It’ll heat up a bit if you use these graphics intensive apps but not enough to make using the J8 uncomfortable. You get ample storage out of the box, with 24.1GB usable storage out of 32GB. But the great thing is if you need more, this smartphone comes with a dedicated microSD card. It can comfortably last you through a work day even when switching from Wi-Fi to mobile connectivity.
Shoot in the right conditions. Samsung boasts of being able to help you capture true-to-life details with the J8’s dual rear camera setup and with the low aperture f/1.7 lens on the main 16-megapixel camera, you’re expected to get brighter and clearer photos, even in low light conditions. The caveat is this seems to work better in good lighting conditions. There are times it can wash out the highlights and overexpose photos but you will often get social media-ready shots to share. Autofocus is quick, though. In low light, the cameras tend to struggle. It’ll wash out the image, making the images look a bit dull.
Selfies turn out rather natural with great detail, accuracy and color reproduction, even with beauty mode turned off. If you want to play around with your selfies, the J8’s built-in camera app has stickers you can use.
When it comes to video recording, it washes out color a bit and the lack of stabilizers will make your footage jittery if you don’t use a tripod or a gimbal.
The Samsung Galaxy J8 is a decent midrange device if taken on its own. But it faces some tough competition in its price range that might steal its thunder and give a bit of extra value for money.
Display: 6” Super AMOLED capacitive 18.5:9 ratio (1,480 × 720 resolution)
SIM: Dual nano, dual standby
Operating system: Android 8.0 Oreo
Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 octa-core
GPU: Adreno 506
Memory: 3GB RAM
Storage: 32GB internal, expandable up to 256GB via microSD (dedicated slot)
Cameras: Rear – 16MP with f/1.7 aperture, AF + 5MP with f/1.9 aperture, depth sensor, up to 1080p@30fps video; Front – 16MP with f/1.9 aperture, LED flash, up to 1080p@30fps video
Connectivity & I/O ports: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, W-Fi Direct, hotspot; 4G LTE; Bluetooth 4.2, A2DP, LE; GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS; microUSB 2.0, USB OTG
Security: Face recognition, fingerprint sensor
Battery: Non-removable Li-Ion 3,500mAh
Dimensions & weight: 159.2 x 75.7 x 8.2mm, 177g