Samsung Galaxy A80 Full Review

Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy A80 has an all-screen face made possible by a nifty camera mechanism that pops up and rotates so the same cameras serve double duty, front and back. This sort of thing has been done before, but not quite this way.

In addition with the two conventional cameras, one regular wide, one ultra wide, the Galaxy A80 boasts a time-of-flight module for depth mapping. So not only should you get selfies with the quality of photos taken on a main camera, you’d also have some advanced depth detection. Add to that Live Focus videos, not just photos, and we can see the A80’s potential with a certain demographic.

Pretty much everyone is likely to enjoy the large 6.7-inch SuperAMOLED display – it’s got FullHD+ resolution in an even taller than usual 20:9 aspect (watch out, Xperias), offering a ton of screen area. The Snapdragon 730 also looks promising – Qualcomm’s latest that’s just below the 800-series has power to spare and should be pretty efficient too.

Specs
Body: 165.2×76.5×9.3mm, 220g; Gorilla Glass 6 back, aluminum frame; Angel Gold, Ghost White, Phantom Black color schemes.
Screen: 6.7″ Super AMOLED, 1080x2400px resolution, 393 ppi, Gorilla Glass 3.
Chipset: Snapdragon 730 chipset: octa-core (2×2.2 GHz Kryo 470 Gold & 6×1.8 GHz Kryo 470 Silver); Adreno 618 GPU.
Memory: 8GB RAM, 128GB built-in storage; no microSD slot.
OS: Android 9 Pie; Samsung One UI.
Camera: Motorized pop-up camera assembly. Main module: 48MP, 1/2.0″ SONY IMX586 Quad Bayer sensor, f/2.0 aperture, 80-degree FOV (26mm equiv. focal length), laser/PDAF. Ultra wide module: 8MP, f/2.2 aperture, 123-degree FOV (11mm equiv. focal length), fixed focus. Time-of-flight 3D Depth camera. LED flash.
Battery: 3,700mAh; 25W fast charging.
Connectivity: Dual-SIM; LTE Cat.11 (600Mbps/75Mbps), Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac, GPS; Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE, USB-C 2.0.
Misc: Under-display fingerprint reader, down-firing loudspeaker, no3.5mm audio jack.

Unboxing Samsung Galaxy A80

Design

Samsung makes no big deal out of this, but it’s apparently using one of those piezo solutions that vibrate the display. It does an okay job and you hear calls alright, it’s just that at higher volume people close to you will be able to hear the other party too.

Other things which typically reside in these quarters, but you won’t find here include an ambient light sensor, a proximity sensor, and a notification LED. The first one is placed underneath the display, around 3cm below the top edge and 2cm from the left one.

For proximity, we gather the phone uses the touchscreen and triggers when there’s a large enough area being touched – we couldn’t get a reading by simply covering any part of it with a piece of paper.

Display, Battery Life, Loudspeaker, Audio Quality

The Galaxy A80 has a 6.7-inch SuperAMOLED display and it’s a true Infinity one – there are no notches or cutouts. The 1080x2400px resolution in a 20:9 aspect makes for a 393ppi density.

Battery life
The Galaxy A80 is powered by a 3,700mAh battery – not small in absolute terms, but kinda smallish for the screen size and smaller than the power pack of the A70 (4,500mAh).

We’re not too pleased with the longevity numbers we got out of the Galaxy A80, particularly in the web browsing test – just 9 hours on our web script is a low result which we hadn’t seen in a while on a Galaxy. For comparison, the A70 can last 50% longer to 13:24h, while the Zenfone 6 manages a whopping 15:42h. Even the unremarkable 10:10h of the OnePlus 7 Pro is better.

The A80 does look a bit better in the video looping test, where it lasts a good 14:39h. Even here, however it’s bested by all of the above – the A70 can do 3 hours more, the Zenfone 6 is good for 16 hours, while the OnePlus 7 Pro manages 16:17h in 60Hz mode (14:33h in 90Hz which makes little sense for video playback).

Loudspeaker

The Galaxy A80 has a single loudspeaker on its bottom and with no conventional earpiece stereo sound is out of the question anyway. It’s putting out reasonable decibels, ranking in the Very Good category as our ratings go.

We have no complaints about the quality either – there are no issues at high volume and there’s a decent amount of bass.

Camera

The Galaxy A80’s flippy platform houses two cameras – or three depending on whether you count the ToF camera as a camera. The main module is based on the now ubiquitous Sony IMX586 48MP Quad Bayer sensor, while the secondary cam is an 8MP ultra wide angle one.

The ultra wide sidekick has more modest resolution and its 8 million pixels are 1.12┬Ám I size. The lens covers a 123-degree field of view or it’s got an equivalent focal length of about 12mm, while the aperture is f/2.2. This one has fixed focus.

And then there’s the time-of-flight camera, or the 3D Depth Camera in Samsung speak. It projects a set of laser beams and measures the time it takes for them to return, thus recreating a depth map of the scene. This should be able to provide a more accurate subject/background recognition for the artificial bokeh modes and indeed Samsung’s even using it for Live Focus videos, not just stills. The fact that the A80’s main camera is also its selfie camera means you get Live Focus selfie videos too.

Alternatives, Pros and Cons, Verdict

It’s almost as if we’re dreading what appears to be an impending flood of under-display cameras. Sure, they’ll aid the development of bezelless phones and could potentially be the doom of notches and such. But under-display cameras will also deny us phones like the Galaxy A80 with ingenious moving bits, useful as they are simply cool.

As for usefulness, the Zenfone 6’s rotating camera wins hands down over the one of the Galaxy A80 – it can do automated panoramas, can be used at any angle, and doesn’t impose any limitations in selfie mode, plus it’s got stabilization all the way to 4K60, a mode that the Galaxy doesn’t even have in the first place. That’s because the Zenfone has a more powerful chipset, so it’ll be better for gaming as well. It also lasts longer on a charge, has a microSD slot and a headphone jack, and costs less than the Galaxy. The A80’s display is superior, we’ll give it that.

Pros
High-quality build, metal frame, GG front and back.
Truly uniqe pop-up camera mechanism.
Very nice display with high outdoor brightness and exemplary sRGB accuracy.
Good image quality overall.

Cons
No memory expansion slot, no headphone jack.
The moving bits look fragile and can drag dust inside the phone.
Unremarkable battery life.
Arbitrary limitations when using the camera for selfies.
No video stabilization in 4K, glitchy in 1080p.

Verdict
For all the wow factor the Galaxy A80 undeniably possesses thanks to its unique camera and bezelless display, it’s a really tough sell once reason gets in the way. At its launch price it’s placed against proper flagships which come with benefits like superior performance, extra camera, better battery life – some are even more affordable than the A80.

We could have seen ourselves ending with something along the lines of ‘get the Galaxy A80 if you want a selfie camera like no other, but otherwise look elsewhere’. The thing is though, the selfie camera like no other is to be found on the Asus Zenfone 6, and for less money.

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