Hands-On

Samsung Galaxy J8 hands-on: Not your usual J

Higher end of the budget realm

Published

on

When scouting for a Samsung phone to buy, the conventional plan is to look at the Galaxy Note or S series for premium, Galaxy A or C for midrange, and Galaxy J for entry-level. Well, that’s just a general guideline.

For some instances, like the Galaxy J8 we have here, Samsung isn’t afraid to cross some boundaries. The J8 tangles closely with the lower-end spectrum of the A series while preserving what makes the J series the budget offering of Samsung.

We got our hands on a pre-retail unit, and even though its software and some features aren’t final yet, you’ll get a pretty good idea of what the Galaxy J8 is all about in our first impressions.

It has a 6-inch 720p AMOLED that’s bright but not too sharp

Comes with Samsung’s unique 18.5:9 aspect ratio

The rear houses the dual-camera setup and fingerprint scanner

Samsung learned from the past and gave the scanner an ideal placement, but it’s still kind of slow

The 16MP selfie camera has its own LED flash and can do facial recognition

Face unlocking is even slower than the fingerprint scanner, though

Its interface closely resembles that of more expensive Galaxies

This is Samsung’s Experience 9.0 UI on top of Android 8.0 Oreo

There’s room for two SIM cards and one microSD card

While this is great, the aging micro-USB port isn’t

All this in a signature Galaxy J plastic body 

Sticking to plastic is what separates it from the Galaxy A’s metal bodies

How well does it perform?

Samsung decided to go for a Snapdragon 450 chipset instead of their usual in-house Exynos chips. Coupled with 3GB of memory, this leads to midrange-level performance with high-end endurance.

During my time with this pre-release sample, there were several moments when I wish it would run faster. Switching between apps exhibited some lag and activating the camera wasn’t as instant as I’d hope it would be.

Still, it could handle all the games I threw at it, albeit with lowered graphics settings. I had no problem running Dragon Ball Legends and Asphalt Xtreme once I got into the apps; it was only when I switched to something else when the phone slowed down.

I only had 32GB of storage to play with, but it’s expandable using a microSD card, which I find vital if you’re a heavy camera user, as well.

Can it take nice photos?

This is one of the few Galaxy J series phones with a dual-camera setup — one has a 16-megapixel sensor while the other uses its 5-megapixel sensor to add depth information. This combination offers features like Live Focus which was once exclusive to the premium Galaxy S and Note lines.

And yet, I wasn’t that impressed by the image quality. I was often disappointed when the colors and saturation would look great on the preview, only to turn out dull once I take the picture and view it in the gallery. This may be because of non-retail software, but I’ve experienced this with other Galaxy J phones in the past.

Here are a few samples:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

While focusing and exposure control is pretty good when there’s enough light, I had difficulty zeroing in on a subject when it got dark. In dimly lit environments, sharpness also takes a hit and noise becomes more apparent in each photo.

I had fun with the added features, however. Live Focus allowed me to adjust background blur after taking a shot, and AR stickers added some character to my selfies. Take a look:

There are other modes and options such as Selfie Focus and the ability to adjust beauty settings. Samsung still has a long way to go before matching the selfie game of Vivo or OPPO, but it’s getting better for the South Korean brand.

Can it last more than a day?

With a battery capacity of 3500mAh pushing a low-resolution HD+ panel and efficient processor, you’re sure to get over a day’s worth of work and play done on this phone. Even though I had to take a lot of photos and run through games during my review period, not once did I worry about the Galaxy J8 suddenly dying on me.

On the other hand, charging was a pain. Bringing the large battery to full using the slow bundled charger took ages — about 2.5 hours more or less. That’s an hour more than I’m used to because  of the fast charging tech I’ve been experiencing in a growing number of midrange devices.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

It would take a proper retail unit and more testing to say for sure, but as it stands, the Galaxy J8 sits on a polarizing spot.

The Galaxy J8 currently retails for INR 18,990 (US$ 275) in India, placing it right below the more premium Galaxy A6 and above strong rivals such as the Moto G6 and ASUS ZenFone Max Pro (M1).

Moto’s G6, for example, has an all-glass design and the same processor, while the ZenFone Max Pro has a more powerful chipset at a fraction of the Galaxy J8’s price.

As it stands, the Galaxy J8 is for Samsung fans who want the features of a dual-camera phone but don’t want to spend more for a Galaxy A6+. Build quality and raw performance shouldn’t matter that much to potential buyers, either.

Hands-On

All the fun things you need to know about the OPPO’s RX17 Pro

Here’s what it can do

Published

on

My smartphone is the one thing that I hold most on a daily basis — more than my boyfriend’s hand or my pet dogs. This device is almost always on my body. That being the case, whatever phone I use automatically becomes an accessory. I want my phones bright and beautiful. If you’re anything like me, a fan of pretty things, continue reading.

This is the OPPO RX17 Pro that was just unveiled in Milan, Italy. It’s one eye-catching device.

To get the confusion out of the way: Yes, the OPPO RX17 Pro is the same phone as the R17 Pro.

First of all, let me state on record: This is one pretty phone. The gradient back is actually made of matted glass (apparently that’s a thing now) and that gives this device an extra oomph. It also means this thing feels great in your hands: Premium with just enough heft.

This right-to-left gradient look, named “Radiant Mist” by the Chinese smartphone company, is tantalizing to say the least. I couldn’t stop staring at it!

This phone will not match all your outfits, though. Even better, it will make all your outfits. It’s the perfect statement piece.

But, as in all things, we all know that looks aren’t everything. What else can this thing do?

I spent some time with a test unit in Milan, and here are my main takeaways. Take note, however, that this particular device isn’t running on final software yet so there might be a few minor differences when the actual units ship out.

Now, without further ado:

Its screen invites attention

That 6.4-inch AMOLED screen looks bright and crisp — great for watching YouTube or for Netflix and chilling. 👀

And look, ma! A notch that isn’t as obtrusive, thank heavens! That tiny teardrop up top is actually something I don’t hate. You sort of forget it’s even there.

This almost all-screen design insists on having it all: There’s an in-display fingerprint scanner on this phone. Simply press your finger to that fingerprint design on the display and voila! That’s not all, though. It’s also capable of face unlock and it’s pretty smooth.

Custom beauty mode and more

Being a smartphone from Asia, the RX17 Pro has a built-in beauty mode on its 25-megapixel selfie camera.

They take it a bit further with not just AI beauty mode (which was previously on R-series devices); there’s also a custom beauty mode which allows for facial adjustments depending on your own personal preferences.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: OPPO’s beauty mode is one of the best out there — if you add these on with moderation.

Stickers, stickers, and more stickers

On to the fun stuff… there are also built-in stickers and so many of them! Here are just a few cute examples as there are pages and pages of them.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

You can also create your own Omoji — think Samsung AR Emoji, OPPO style. Basically, you make sticker avatars based on your face, dress the sticker up then send to your friends as GIFs or videos.

I can’t say it will turn out looking really like you, though, because mine didn’t. See example below:

There are also pre-set AR stickers and those are pretty cute and very fun — I had a blast “testing” these out.


It raises the bar

The Smart Bar, that is.

This added feature is a hovering bar on the screen that brings you to a mini menu for faster access to certain apps.

You can customize apps that go on here and even move the bar around on the screen at your convenience.

More and merrier cameras

There are three cameras on this phone’s back: The main shooter is a 12-megapixel dual aperture camera (that just means the camera adjusts to different lighting scenarios to get the best-possible photos), a second 20-megapixel shooter, and a 3D TOF camera. That last camera supposedly allows for 3D and AR capabilities, but that feature wasn’t ready on this test device.

There’s a Portrait Lighting feature, much like Apple’s, on this phone. As my patient boyfriend has so willingly shown below, there are many different photo styles you can get. The cutouts, despite the busy background, looked pretty good.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This phone highlights its low-light capabilities with a new “Night” feature. AI combined with optical image stabilization ensures better photos in scenarios that aren’t so well lit. I put it to the test at the RX17 Pro launch event:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Like the previous R-series phones, there’s also AI built into the camera that automatically adjusts settings depending on the scenario for optimum photo results. All that’s left for you to do is keep shooting and photos turn out like this.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Of course, I’d have to spend more time with this camera, but these initial samples have pretty much impressed.

All other things

Other notable features include a Snapdragon 710 processor with 6GB memory and 128GB storage which makes for a smooth running phone. And as a first for an R-series phone, it’s equipped with a USB-C port and SuperVOOC charging. Yep, that’s the same one on the OPPO Find X Lamborghini Edition which zooms to full charge in 35 minutes.

For more details on this phone’s specs, you can watch GadgetMatch’s full hands-on here.

A day and a half with the RX17 Pro and it’s performed pretty well. Not to mention, it totally looked good with my outfit.

Continue Reading

Hands-On

Apple iPad Pro Hands-on: Can this replace your laptop?

Apple says it’s like a computer, but unlike any computer

Published

on

We go hands on with the new iPad Pro and give you our first impressions. Apple’s top-of-the-line tablet is available in two sizes,12.9 inches and 11 inches, but they’re even smaller than previous models because the bezels have been reduced.

Two other big changes to the iPad Pro are the omission of Apple’s signature features: the home button that enables Touch ID, and the Lightning port. In their place are the new TrueDepth camera technology first seen on the iPhone X and a USB-C port — the latter opening up so many possibilities for the iPad Pro.

Special thanks are in order to the following people who made this video possible:

If you’re having trouble loading the video CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Hands-On

OPPO R17 Pro Hands-on

A triple-camera setup like nothing before

Published

on

This is our OPPO R17 Pro hands-on.

The Chinese company’s latest upper-midrange phone is here and with it comes hardware never before seen on a smartphone. Will it pave the way to a broader application of our handsets in the future?

If you’re having trouble loading the video CLICK HERE.

Continue Reading

Trending