The Samsung Galaxy J8 is priced at Rs 18,990, and is available both online and offline.
The phone is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, and comes with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage.
The phone sports a big 6-inch super AMOLED screen which is good, although the resolution is only HD+.
The affordable smartphone space in India is where the action is, and focusing on it has elevated Samsung and Xiaomi to the position of undisputed leaders of the Indian market. And while there is obviously space for premium devices as well, real volume sales can only be achieved if the focus remains on affordable and value-for-money devices. And while Xiaomi has achieved much of its success through the online channel, Samsung has a strong hold on the offline space.
Samsung may have lost the first position to Xiaomi earlier this year, but it has since regained leadership of the smartphone segment. This has come on the back of a strong focus on its affordable and mid-range devices, which are better than they’ve ever been. One of the newest devices that Samsung has launched is the Galaxy J8. Priced at Rs 18,990, the phone is a solid basic device with all of the key features for a mid-ranger in place. But is the ‘offline’ premium on the price justifiable? We find out in our review.
Samsung Galaxy J8 Design and Specifications
Specifications and price usually go hand-in-hand, and as such, there are price expectations already set for a certain set of specifications. To get directly to the point, the Xiaomi Redmi Y2 comes with similar specifications to the Samsung Galaxy J8, and can be bought at Rs 12,999 for the similar variant.
With that in mind, let’s go into the specification sheet. The Samsung Galaxy J8 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, and features 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. The phone comes with a 6-inch 720×1440-pixel AMOLED screen and a 3,500mAh battery. You get Android 8.0 Oreo out of the box, with Samsung’s standard custom UI on top. The screen is an 18:9 aspect ratio affair, which gives users a taller screen and admittedly better design.
When it comes to design, the Samsung Galaxy J8 is fairly standard, and quite similar to the more expensive Galaxy A6+ in many ways. One of the notable differences is the resolution on the screen, which at 720×1440 pixels isn’t quite as sharp as we’d have liked for this price. What does work is the super AMOLED one, making for better black levels and energy efficiency. Most phones in this price segment sport IPS LCD screens, making this a refreshing change. As such, I have mixed feelings about the screen, which is both good and not-so-good at the same time.
The build of the phone is disappointingly not a metal-glass combination as one has come to expect these days. Instead, you get a matte-finish plastic back and frame, which does admittedly, look good and feels decent. Nonetheless, it doesn’t feel quite as solid as metal devices. The ordinary looks at the front don’t really help either. The back of the phone has the dual-camera setup vertically positioned near the top, with the fingerprint sensor right below. You get three color options – Black, Blue and Gold – with Black being my personal favorite.
The layout of the buttons and other elements of the phone are rather unique. While the power button, micro-USB port and 3.5mm jack are placed normally, you’ll find the speaker grille at a rather odd location on the right side just above the power button. The volume keys are on the left, and the dedicated dual-SIM and microSD card slots are on the lower left side. I felt the speaker grille was rather oddly placed, and as a result sound output was a bit awkward as well. Having the speaker grille at the bottom would have been the ideal approach. Also worth pointing out is that the phone doesn’t have an ambient light sensor, so you don’t have the option to have brightness adjust automatically. You’ll need to manually set the levels.
Samsung Galaxy J8 Software, Performance and Battery
The Samsung Galaxy J8 runs the Samsung Experience UI with Android 8.0 Oreo on top. It’s the same classic Samsung experience we’re used to, and UI improvements have made it a decent choice. From icons and color schemes to the general styling, it’s something that Samsung users and fans will be completely familiar with.
Apart from the usual set of Google apps, you also get Samsung options for most of the same functions, which can be a bit annoying considering you have two sets of apps that do the same things and can’t even be uninstalled. There are also some third-party apps that classify as bloatware, but these can be uninstalled. Interesting additions also include Samsung Pay Mini and a radio app, which will appeal to a lot of users. As such, the Samsung Galaxy J8 has been designed with its core audience in mind, and it will serve that user base well.
The phone’s performance is one of its pain points, and despite being powered by the capable and reliable Qualcomm Snapdragon 450 SoC, performance can be erratic at times. Things tend to be a bit slow at awkward times, particularly during start-up. I also noticed slight delays when using face unlock and the fingerprint sensor to unlock the phone. Within settings, there’s a noticeable delay in making selections as well.
This continues even when loading up apps, although Samsung’s UI does effectively mask these delays with animations. Once an app is loaded, it works well enough, but rapid switching between apps and trying to do too many things at once will put the phone under some strain. This perhaps has a lot to do with the fact that the Samsung Experience UI is geared to work best with Samsung’s own Exynos chipsets, and the Qualcomm SoC here isn’t quite as well configured for the heavy interface.
Therefore, Samsung fans that want better performance in this price range would likely be better served by the more affordable Samsung Galaxy J6. However, the J8 does sport the larger screen, as well as a better camera setup, which forms a strong part of its appeal.
When it comes to battery life, the Samsung Galaxy J8 is particularly good, and can be considered one of the phone’s USPs. The device sports a 3,500mAh battery, and comes with a 7.5W micro-USB charger. Charging is on the slower side, and takes approximately three hours to fully charge itself. But once done, it will last you the day easily, possibly even going on for a part of the second day depending on your usage. This has to do with the AMOLED screen, fewer pixels to power and a frugal chipset, all of which make the Samsung Galaxy J8 an efficient smartphone in terms of power use.
Samsung Galaxy J8 Camera
The Samsung Galaxy J8 sports a dual-camera setup at the rear, with a 16-megapixel primary camera and 5-megapixel secondary camera, along with a 16-megapixel camera at the front. You get portrait mode with both camera setups – hardware-based at the rear, and software-based at the front. You also get flash on both sides, and video recording is possible at up to full-HD resolution regardless of which camera you shoot with.
Let’s first talk about the camera in regular conditions. If you’re taking ordinary photos in good light, detail and composure is good enough and more than adequate. Pictures turn out well enough, and you can point out a decent amount of detail when you zoom in. While you will lose out on some composure in low light, it’s still adequate given the price and positioning of the phone.
Where the Samsung Galaxy J8 will appeal to the core user base is the dual-camera setup and the ability to take portrait shots at the front as well. Portrait shots are fairly good, capturing the outline of the subject well enough and blurring out the background effectively. You can also add background blur effects, apart from increasing or reducing the background blur effect. The special effects are only available for shots with the rear camera though, and only work when the subject is a person.
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The mid-range smartphone segment is a particularly complicated place to be right now. There are many options from many brands, and there’s usually something for everyone depending on what you’re looking for from your phone. Leaving aside the device and its features for a minute, the Samsung Galaxy J8 is positioned perfectly for the J-range, and will appeal to many buyers simply by being a sub-Rs 20,000 Samsung device that you can buy easily by walking into your neighborhood mobile store.
Coming to the phone itself, performance is perhaps its only serious drawback. Beyond that, you get good design (if not entirely great build quality), an arguably good screen, decent battery life and a camera that will do its job well enough on most occasions. While it is expensive, there are enough compelling reasons to consider it anyway, particularly if you’re a Samsung fan or want the peace of mind of being able to count on Samsung’s extensive service network in India.