Samsung Galaxy A8 smartphones make infinity affordable

The small-bezel "infinity" display was a big trend in high-end smartphones in 2017, showing up in Samsung's co-flagship Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8 phones, as well as Apple's iPhone X. The Korean electronics goliath is bringing the edge-to-edge display to lower price points with the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8+, a pair of midrange phones sporting glass-and-metal bodies, IP68 water and dust intrusion resistance, and dual user-facing cameras.

The screens are the most obvious difference between the Galaxy A8 and the Galaxy A8+. Both AMOLED displays have the same 1080x2220 resolution and 18.5:9 aspect ratio. The regular A8's screen measures 5.6" (14.2 cm) diagonally, while the plus-sized A8+'s panel stretches to 6" (15.2 cm). Both phones have buttonless faces allowing for more vertical screen real estate, and always-on display modes provide impatient users with quicker access to notifications.

Just about the only thing sharing space with the screen on the phones' faces is the pair of f/1.9-aperture self-portrait cameras. One of those snappers is a 16-megapixel unit and the other has a more pedestrian 8-MP sensor. The two work together with Samsung's Live Focus software magic to deliver bokeh effects in real time or after the fact. The single 16-MP camera on the back of the phones has an f/1.7 aperture, video digital image stabilization, and a hyperlapse feature for easier time-lapse videos.

From a design perspective, the most interesting news is the position of the fingerprint sensor on the back of the phone below the camera. Samsung's latest flagship phones have positioned the sensor next to the camera, a spot that's proven somewhat inconvenient for many users. 

The Galaxy A8 fraternal twins will come to market with Android Nougat 7.1.1, something of a disappointment for a phone coming to market well after the launch of Android 8.0 Oreo. Samsung didn't have much else to say about the A8 phones' software and was similarly tight-lipped about the SoC inside the pair. What we know is that both phones will pack chips with a pair of higher-performing cores at 2.2 GHz and six 1.6-GHz units with an emphasis on power efficiency.

The standard Galaxy A8 comes with 4 GB of memory, while buyers can choose between A8+ models with 4 GB or 6 GB of RAM. Both phones are available with either 32 GB or 64 GB of internal storage. If that isn't enough space for high-res self portraits, users can stuff in microSD cards as large as 256 GB. The Galaxy A8 and A8+ are the first Galaxy A-series phones compatible with Samsung's Gear VR platform, too.

The phones have a USB Type-C connector for charging and wired data exchange, along with all kinds of wireless connectivity. The modems are LTE Cat11 units capable of connecting at a theoretical maximum of 600 Mbps. There's 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity with VHT80 and 256QAM support, and Bluetooth 5.0 LE. The phones also have Magnetic Secure Transmission and NFC for making payments with Samsung Pay.

Both phones are just 0.33" (0.84 cm) thick. The Galaxy A8 measures 5.9" tall and 2.8" wide (15 cm x 7.1 cm) and weighs 6.1 oz (172 g). The A+ is predictably larger and heavier, standing 6.3" tall and 3" wide (16 cm x 7.6 cm) and tipping the scales at 6.7 oz (191 g). The A8 has a 3000-mAh battery, while the larger A8+ stuffs in a larger 3500-mAh unit.

Samsung didn't provide pricing information for the Galaxy A8 and Galaxy A8+, but the company did say the pair would start shipping in early January. Both phones will be available in black, orchid grey, gold, and blue finishes.

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