The under ₹20k segment is a dangerous sea with many fish in it, each wanting a piece of bait, glory and a shiny crown to stay king.
Samsung throws a strong jab at other competitors like Xiaomi, Asus, Vivo, Huawei and Nokia. But guess what, it’s already gone down in the earlier round with the J6 because of a few misfired shots. Can it rise up? Let’s see how long it manages to stay in the ring.
Design: Finish me matte
If we were to point out one striking feature of the J8, it’d be the 6in HD (720p x 1480) edge-to-edge Infinity AMOLED display instead of the regular LCD displays on mid-budget smartphones. Sadly, no Full HD over here. However, colours pop bright, saturation and contrasts levels seem to be well balanced.
Unlike Samsung’s flagships, the J8 doesn't prioritize looks by adding a shiny metal or glass body to make it stand out.
It houses an aluminum matte finish on the back and it looks appealing at the start, but the appeal soon fades away after everyday usage. We think it’s a little boring if you compare it with other smartphones in the sub-₹20k mark.
Despite its 3500mAh battery, it manages to stay light at just 177g. It houses two separate slots for SIMs and SD card storage up to 256GB, if you need more space.
Although, it does disappoint with the old method of charging (micro USB) instead of welcoming USB Type-C.
We don’t know what Samsung is really up to, but they’ve placed the speaker on the top right side of the phone, just near the power button. Weird, but it didn't block any sound or cause any interruptions.
Samsung’s Galaxy J8 could’ve prepped a little better to stun other competitors, but has a few ups that some Samsung fans might indulge in.
Camera - Make me shoot
One particular thing Samsung focused on with the J8 was its dual-cameras and their ability to shoot pretty portrait pictures. Under the dual-lens sits a 16MP(f1.7) + 5MP (f1.9) and a 16M front shooter for selfie shooting.
The J8 has abilities to shoot some very pretty pictures, especially at the ₹18,990 mark. It’s borrowed and built on a few skills from its elder brother - the Galaxy S9, making it a sharp shooter.
It’s got a 5MP secondary camera to sniff out and map the depth of field through its ‘Live Focus’ mode, or more like portrait mode. If you fancy this, place a human between 1-1.5m and shoot away. You can adjust the background blur before and after the photo. There’s an option of adding effects like Portrait Backdrop for a little trippiness and Portrait Dolly to blur the background with crystals, pixels, time slices or crumbles. You choose.
Thankfully, selfie takers will not despise the quality of the front camera or throw a tantrum if their picture hasn't made them look thin enough. There’s also the usual beauty mode to ramp up your Tinder game.
To end this, the Galaxy J8 has some serious skill to capture the moment. It’s quick to point and shoot, easy to use and manoeuver and throws out great colour and detail in photos and videos.
Processor and OS: A bit here and there
The J8 pleased the shutterbug in us, but it’s slowed down a bit for some reason. Aha, we know why, it’s because of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 450 (1.8GHz) sitting inside. We aren't saying it’s bad or slow. It’s just a little underpowered for the current market offering.
There are some phones sporting a much higher processor for less than ₹18,990. Now that’s a problem Samsung.
It’s got 4GB RAM and 64GB of storage to take care of essential necessities and basic multitasking. But it stutters a bit when you force too much on it. If you take it easy, it’ll be your friend.
We tested PUBG (smooth and medium) and it played absolutely fine. There was a little lag but that could’ve been the unstable internet connection. No overheating or battery draining scenarios over here.
Apart from that, Clash Royale, Facebook, Slack and other apps worked without strain. We would’ve preferred a higher processor in order to manage work a little faster.
There’s nothing noteworthy in Samsung’s OS running on Android Oreo. You’ll still find stock Samsung apps sitting in folders, a Bixby home and other Samsung-centric apps like Samsung Mall for shopping, My Galaxy, Samsung Pay Mini just like other Samsung devices.
They've also added a 'Chat Over Video' feature on its J and A series where you can respond to messages through a transparent keyboard without interupting your video.
Their custom skin allows you to customise and play around with the user interface and tune it to how you like, but it still feels a bit sluggish and heavier than others like EMUI or MIUI.
You can binge watch on Netflix, browse on social media, stream media, play games and not worry about looking for the nearest charging port. The 3500mAh battery will easily last you the entire day and not disappoint. Sadly, it’s still using the old method of charging instead of Type-C. It’s 2018 you know.
When it comes to unlocking, the J8 is a smart learner. The face unlock feature and the fingerprint scanner are fast and do the job, but it isn't furious enough to challenge others for a race. We’re pretty sure other smartphones in and around this price point can unlock faster.
We’ve already mentioned it’s a dangerous sea out there for smartphones in and under the ₹20k mark, especially in India, but brands are willing to fight for glory.
For them to stay crowned, they need to come up with something really unique. Maybe a shiny back like the Huawei Nova 3i, a greater processor and speed for little less the price like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro, the mega 5000mAh battery on the Asus Zenfone Max Pro M1, the nostalgic Nokia 6 running on Android One or the flagship Moto G6.
However, Samsung’s camera and screen may have a slight advantage over these mid-budgeteers, but it’s nothing too substantial. They still make really great flagships, but it’s time to buck up its game in the lower end. C’mon Samsung, wake up!
We’ve gone through the specifics and spoken our word. Now, let’s cut to the chase. If you’re a homegrown Samsung boy on a budget, you might enjoy using the Galaxy J8. It’s a decent smartphone with a great screen, sharp cameras and an exceptional battery at an ₹18k mark. In all honesty, we’re pretty sure after some time you’d be thirsty for more power.
We feel you could spend that same amount of money on something else with a better processor, OS and body. There's plenty to compare and choose from in this price range.
All we’re saying is, that the J8 isn't a bad smartphone, it’s just a little underpowered, has a boring body and feels a bit sluggish with everyday use.