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Samsung finally launched perhaps the final and perhaps the last of the J-series smartphones in the Philippines – the Galaxy J8. Armed with specs comparable to most mid-range smartphone nowadays, we have the chance to check it out and spend some time with it on its media launch today – so here’s our hands-on and initial impressions (or let’s say a short review as well).

SEE: What do we think of Samsung’s new Galaxy J6?


Design Impressions

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The Galaxy J8 is literally the larger version of the Galaxy J6 in terms of design. The only difference you’ll see on the back is its dual rear cameras instead of the single camera configuration of the latter. Like what we’ve said on the J6, the back is made of polycarbonate plastic slash metallic material which gives that matte-like finish. Unlike the A6/A6+, there’s no gimmicks or any lines (probably antenna bands) visible 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.

The purple color is so ♡! (Photo: Bryan Snow/AMG)

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

As you 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 though, 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 viewable even on outdoors.



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 speakerhole. 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 speakerhole is the power button.

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. We didn’t get the chance to test this initially but we’re absolutely going to test this when our review unit arrives.

Rear-mounted fingerprint scanner (Photo: STS/AMG)

Performance & Software

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Samsung isn’t boasting anything about the software of the Galaxy J8. Unlike the J6 being marketed as a midrange gaming smartphone, we would conclude that the J8 will surely do better than the J6.

The software on the Galaxy J8 is Samsung’s own touch of Android Oreo (Samsung Experience 8.0) which is 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 likeable and is user-friendly. It’s smooth, fast enough and is capable of enhancing the user experience on this phone.

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.

Again, just like on their recent releases, Samsung also includes Dolby Atmos on the J8, which enhances audio listening experience for better sound staging and loudness. The Dolby Atmos setting can be switched on/off from the notification settings and can be pre-set into four modes, namely Auto, Music, Movie and Voice.


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 onboard. Here are some samples from the rear camera: (raw, not compressed)

Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample
Galaxy J8 Rear Camera Sample

The results didn’t surprised us at all, as we expect from the series, it captures photos the same as its siblings on the J and A-series, since they sport the same sensor configuration. You can see the detail and the color reproduction, although we will reserve the final verdict on our full review.

Here are the samples from the front camera: (raw, not compressed)

Galaxy J8 front camera sample
Galaxy J8 front camera sample
Galaxy J8 front camera sample
Galaxy J8 front camera sample
Galaxy J8 front camera sample
Galaxy J8 front camera sample

The portrait selfie mode, on the other hand, has sucked in blurring out the edges – it’s more of a forced blur than natural bokeh. Just see the samples below for your evaluation: (raw, not compressed)

Galaxy J8 Portrait Selfie Mode Sample
Galaxy J8 Portrait Selfie Mode Sample
Galaxy J8 Portrait Selfie Mode Sample
Galaxy J8 Portrait Selfie Mode Sample
Galaxy J8 Portrait Selfie Mode Sample
Galaxy J8 Portrait Selfie Mode Sample

Again, this is just our initial testings, and our final verdict would be reserved on the full review.


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

Conclusion

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A Galaxy A6+ alternative

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. We’ll just have to know more once the review unit arrives on us and have started to do the full review – stay tuned for that!


Pricing and Availability

The Samsung Galaxy J8 is priced at PhP15,990 and is going to be available for pre-order from July 21 to August 3. Samsung is bundling some cool items with the pre-order – a JBL Clip 2 Bluetooth Speaker, a NanoFixIt Screen Protection and Insurance, and a PhP1,000 cash back.