Review, Smartphone

Samsung Galaxy A80 Review: Priced Out of the Market

Smartphones with all-screen designs are becoming increasingly common, and to achieve that kind of aesthetic, phone makers have come up with some creative solutions. One of the most popular implementations is the pop-up camera mechanism, which is found on this smartphone right here: the Samsung Galaxy A80.

Samsung even added a twist (quite literally) with the A80. Instead of a conventional motorised camera mechanism, this phone’s camera module…rotates. It’s an interesting design, but all in all, it’s not the best solution. That, coupled with the Galaxy A80’s steep asking price, make it a tough smartphone to recommend.

Specifications

Display6.7-inch FHD+ Super AMOLED (2400 x 1080)
ChipsetQualcomm Snapdragon 730 2.2GHz octa-core
GPUAdreno 618
RAM8GB
Storage128GB, non-expandable
Camera (rear)
48MP f/2.0 (primary)
8MP f/2.2 (wide angle)
3D Depth Sensor
Camera (front)None
Battery3,700mAh
Dimensions165.2 x 76.5 x 9.3 mm
Weight220g
OSOne UI 1.1 based on Android 9 Pie
ConnectivityLTE
NFC
Bluetooth 5.0
WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac (2.4/5GHz)
USB Type-C

Looking at these specifications, the Galaxy A80 is comfortably an upper mid-range smartphone, thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 chipset. Now, just because it’s not a Snapdragon 8 series SoC doesn’t mean it’s not good; it can actually offer a good level of performance.

Other specifications of the Galaxy A80 are pretty good too. It has 8GB of RAM, 128GB of internal storage, and a reasonably big 3,700mAh battery. Unfortunately, this phone has no microSD card slot, and it doesn’t have a 3.5mm headphone jack either.

Design

Naturally, the all-screen design of the Galaxy A80 is the highlight here. Simply dubbed “New Infinity Display,” there is no notch or hole-punch cutout on the screen; only a bit of a chin at the bottom of the display. Overall, it’s a sleek, aesthetically pleasing smartphone.

In order to realise that all-screen design, the Galaxy A80 has a rotating, motorised camera module. Once the “front-facing camera” is activated in the camera interface, the camera would pop-up and rotate to the front. Basically, you have one camera system for your selfie and photography needs.

While this rotating camera module is unique, it’s not exactly very…practical. Not only is it noticeably slower than, say, the OnePlus 7 Pro‘s pop-up camera module, it has more moving parts too. With more moving parts, there’s a higher chance of it malfunctioning over the years.

Then again, it’s entirely possible the camera module would outlast the Galaxy A80 itself. Throughout my time with the phone, never did the rotating camera fail to activate properly too.

Beyond the motorised camera module, the Galaxy A80 has solid build quality. The glass back and metal frame feel great to the touch, every part is put together well, and I like the heft of the phone. However, it may be a tad too heavy for some folks – it tips the scales at 220g.

When it comes to ergonomics, the Galaxy A80 could use some work. For one, the 6.7-inch display makes it a sizeable smartphone; using it with only one hand can prove to be quite a challenge. Besides that, I wish the sides were thicker, so that I can get a better grip of the phone.

As a whole, the Galaxy A80 is a sleek-looking smartphone with a big, notch-free display. Even if it has some ergonomic issues, there’s no denying the aesthetic appeal of the phone.

User Experience

Like most Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy A80 runs on the phone maker’s One UI software based on Android 9 Pie, which is as polished as ever. It is lightweight, responsive, and intuitive to use. Throughout my time with the phone, I didn’t encounter any serious bug with One UI either.

When it comes to performance, the Snapdragon 730 can definitely provide more than enough processing power. I can switch between different apps quickly without issue, apps open relatively fast, and gaming is really enjoyable too. In fact, this chipset’s Adreno 618 GPU can run PUBG Mobile very well.

Of course, it’s not in the same league as a flagship-tier processor, but the Snapdragon 730 really is a fast, capable chipset. After all, it’s the most powerful chipset outside of the Snapdragon 8 series.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that the Snapdragon 730 is an 8nm chip, making it quite power-efficient. Combined with the Galaxy A80’s 3,700mAh battery, I managed to get about five hours of screen on time consistently throughout the review period. That’s not fantastic battery life, but it’s not too bad either.

As for the A80’s charging rate, it’s decent. Within 30 minutes of charging, the phone got up to about 55% from completely empty.

And then we have the Galaxy A80’s large 6.7-inch 1080p Super AMOLED display, and as expected, it’s a high quality display. Deep blacks, vibrant colours, great viewing angles, you name it: all of that describes the A80’s display. It can get blindingly bright too, so screen legibility under harsh sunlight is really good.

Now then, on to the…not so good stuff. Since we’re still on the topic of display, let’s talk about the Galaxy A80’s in-screen fingerprint sensor. On average, I would say that the sensor can only recognise my fingerprint quickly and accurately…half the time?

Okay, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but it certainly felt like it. More often than not, I would have to repeatedly place my finger on the sensor to unlock the phone. On top of that, it’s not particularly quick either, often requiring me to tap and hold on the sensor for quite a bit before it can read my fingerprint.

Most of the time, I find myself just keying in my passcode to unlock the phone. It saves me a lot of time (and frustration).

Another pain point with the Galaxy A80 is the in-screen speaker. See, this phone does not have a conventional earpiece at the top of the display. Instead, the top part of the screen vibrates to transmit sound. It’s a neat hardware trick – even though it’s not entirely new – but it doesn’t work very well.

Even with the volume maximised, I was still having trouble hearing the person on the other side of the call. It sounds…muddled, and it got to a point where I was using the loudspeaker instead to carry out the conversation.

Yeah, it’s awkward to do that in a public area, but I was desperate.

Despite these small annoyances, I do enjoy using the Galaxy A80 as my daily driver over the past couple of weeks. One UI provides a good software experience, the big, bright display is pleasant to look at, and the Snapdragon 730 can really keep up with my gaming needs.

Camera

Sporting a triple camera system made up of a 48MP f/2.0 primary shooter, an 8MP f/2.2 wide angle camera, and a 3D Depth Sensor, the Galaxy A80 has reasonably good camera performance. The camera does get more sluggish in less than ideal lighting, but the end results look great regardless of lighting condition. Not quite on the same level as a flagship smartphone, but still good nonetheless.

However, as good as the camera performance is, I was expecting…well, a more sophisticated camera system, especially at this price point. Given the steep asking price of the Galaxy A80, I was hoping to see a telephoto sensor, which would’ve made it a more complete camera system.

Sure, some folks may find more use out of the A80’s wide angle shooter than a telephoto lens, but even that isn’t particularly great. While it handles distortion well (image don’t have very noticeable fisheye-like effect), noise is an issue in low light conditions. Detail preservation suffers as well.

That is not to say the Galaxy A80 has a bad camera system; it just doesn’t match the asking price of the smartphone. On the flip side, you do get a very good “front-facing camera,” considering the fact that selfies are taken with the same camera module.

Competition

Carrying a RM2,499 price tag, the Galaxy A80 is a costly mid-range smartphone. On top of that, it’s also approaching the price territory of flagship devices, which are faster, sleeker, and more feature-packed. With that in mind, let’s look at the A80’s main competition with a similar all-screen design.

OnePlus 7 Pro

Yes, the OnePlus 7 Pro is even more costly than the Galaxy A80 at RM2,999 for the 128GB variant with 6GB of RAM (2GB less than the A80), but it has so much more to offer. It has a sleeker design, a far more impressive 6.67-inch 1440p Fluid AMOLED 90Hz display, and better performance courtesy of the Snapdragon 855 chipset.

So why would you get the Galaxy A80 over the OnePlus 7 Pro? Well, only if you want the rotating camera of the former, which offers a better selfie camera in return. Of course, there’s also the fact that the A80 costs RM500 less than the 7 Pro, though you will get a lot more value for your money with OnePlus’ offering.

Xiaomi Mi 9T

If you want something far more affordable, there’s the Xiaomi Mi 9T. Despite retailing at only RM1,399 for the 128GB variant with 6GB of RAM, it offers the same Snapdragon 730 chipset, an all-screen design, a more versatile triple camera system with three different focal lengths, and a bigger 4,000mAh battery.

That being said, the Galaxy A80 does have a couple of plus points. Although the Mi 9T has a more versatile camera system, the A80 has superior camera performance. Personally, I find One UI to be a lot more pleasant to use than Xiaomi’s MIUI software too. But whether or not these are worth paying RM1,100 more is a different question.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy A80 is a unique, curious smartphone with a rotating camera module and all-screen design. It’s a sleek, premium smartphone, but its high asking price and lack of value for money really work against it. Would you pay RM2,499 for a mid-range smartphone?

Granted, you do get a really good mid-range smartphone for that kind of money. It has a sleek design, a good level of performance, as well as a capable triple camera system with a unique rotating mechanism, even if it’s not the most practical implementation.

If you are intrigued by the Galaxy A80, it’s worth a consideration. Just know that you have a lot of other options at this price point.