The difference between mid-range and high-end smartphones is decreasing in relevancy, as seemingly mid-tier smartphones are getting now getting higher-end specifications, better hardware, improved software and lower prices. So, where do we draw the line between these two tiers?
Today we’re taking a look at two smartphones that are stuck in the middle of the mid-range and high-end device markets – the OPPO R7 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy A8. How do these smartphones compare to one another? Which one offers a better overall value to consumers? We aim to answer that question, and more, in this in-depth comparison between the OPPO R7 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy A8.
It’s pretty clear that both the OPPO R7 Plus and Samsung Galaxy A8 are great looking smartphones. They both feature an all-metal design with chamfered edges that extend along the entire perimeter of each device. This doesn’t mean the two phones don’t share their differences, though. The OPPO R7 Plus is the bigger of the two, sporting a 6.0-inch display and measuring 7.8mm thick. Handling it with one hand can be a tad difficult if you’re not used to large smartphones, but for those who are, you shouldn’t have a problem in this area.
On the other hand, the Galaxy A8 is a bit easier to hold, thanks to its slightly smaller 5.7-inch display and 5.9mm thickness. It’s Samsung’s thinnest phone to date, and despite its metal construction, it only weighs 151 grams, compared to the R7 Plus’ 192 grams.
Buttons on each phone are in their normal, easy-to-reach placements. Each device sports a power/standby button on the right side, and volume keys on the left. The R7 Plus’ 3.5mm headphone jack can be found on the top of the device, with the A8’s found at the bottom. Both devices also have a MicroUSB port at the bottom for charging and data transfer purposes, which is par for the course with most of today’s smartphones.
As for the Galaxy A8, it sports a single speaker next to the camera module on the back, which doesn’t really provide a great sound when listening to music or watching videos. The R7 Plus also sports a rear-facing speaker, but this one is towards the bottom of the device and provides much better sound quality.
In typical Samsung fashion, the Galaxy A8 has a physical home button flanked by capacitive recent apps and back keys, while OPPO chose to go with on-screen buttons with the R7 Plus. The R7 Plus has a rear-mounted fingerprint scanner below the camera module, and Samsung’s fingerprint scanner is integrated into the home button.
The Galaxy A8, measuring just 5.9mm thin, has room for a non-removable 3050mAh battery. In our time with the device the A8 gave us some really impressive battery statistics, giving us around 4 hours of screen-on time during most days. It has impressive standby time, too, only losing around 2 or 3% battery when on standby overnight.
The R7 Plus has room for a much larger battery – 4100mAh to be exact. Even when streaming video and playing games, the R7 Plus consistently provided us with upwards of 5 hours of screen-on time. It’s difficult to kill this device’s battery in one day. And if you happen to succeed at that, you can take advantage of OPPO’s VOOC fast charging capabilities.
For many, the camera is among the most important factors in a smartphone, and neither of these devices skimp in this area. The R7 Plus features a 13MP main shooter with an f/2.2 aperture and Schneider-Kreuznach optics, as well as laser auto-focus and an LED flash. The front-facer on the R7 Plus comes in at 8MP, which should be great for video calls and selfies.
Images in standard, well-lit conditions come out very clear most of the time, with plenty of detail. Color accuracy is outstanding, dynamic range is decent and shooting speeds are quite snappy. Shutter speed slows down when moving to poorly-lit conditions, but ultimately the results are better than average. This is mostly because of OPPO’s RGBW sensor, which adds a white pixel to to the usual RGB set-up. This is said to increase light sensitivity by 32% and reduce noise by 78%.
The Galaxy A8 features a 16MP rear-facing camera with an f/1.9 aperture, just like what is seen with the Galaxy S6. The sensor uses ISOCELL technology, but there is no optical image stabilization available with the Galaxy A8. The camera can be launched with a double tap of the home button, which is a really nice feature to have. The front-facing camera is a 5MP unit with a wide angle lens that allows for some decent looking selfies, though we found that the default beauty mode settings are a little too aggressive.
Most of the images taken with the A8 are pretty clear and show plenty of detail, especially in above-average lighting conditions. The images are colorful and saturated as you would expect from any other Samsung camera, making for some very crisp and vibrant images. Even without OIS, the A8’s camera performs pretty well in low light conditions. Images still exhibit a nice amount of color and sharpness, and there’s not a whole lot of noise reduction going on in post-production.
Both of the software interfaces are simple and easy to use, which makes taking quick shots easy.
OPPO R7 Plus camera samples
Samsung Galaxy A8 camera samples
Display and hardware
The OPPO R7 Plus and Galaxy A8 are actually pretty similar on the display front. The R7 Plus sports a 6.0-inch Super AMOLED panel with 1920 x 1080 resolution and a pixel density of 367ppi, while the A8 has a slightly smaller 5.7-inch Super AMOLED panel with 1920 x 1080 resolution and a pixel density of 386ppi. Thanks to the Super AMOLED panels on both phones, you can expect deep blacks and vibrant colors. Viewing angles are quite good on both, and we haven’t had any problems with these devices in direct sunlight, either.
The downsides to both of these displays, though, is that at 5.7-6 inches, you can start noticing some pixels because of their 1080p resolution. This is par for the course when it comes to mid-range phones, though, so this isn’t anything too out of the ordinary.
If display size is something that’s very important to you, we’d recommend the OPPO R7 Plus if you’re looking for the best multimedia experience between the two. The display is bigger and the bezels are quite small, meaning you’ll have a better time watching YouTube videos or playing games. In terms of screen size, the Galaxy A8 is a bit easier to handle, so keep that in mind before you make your decision, as well.
The R7 Plus comes with 32GB of on-board storage. There’s no 64 or 128GB variant to choose from, but OPPO makes up for this by adding support for a microSD card up to 128GB in size. In contrast, the Galaxy A8 comes in both 16 and 32GB flavors and also supports microSD expansion up to 128GB.
Moving to the back, the R7 Plus and A8 both sport a rear-facing speaker. In terms of sound quality, neither are anything to write home about. The R7 Plus’ speaker is easy to muffle with your hand and the A8’s speaker isn’t all that powerful. If we had to choose one, though, it’d be the R7 Plus’ speaker. It’s louder and provides better sound quality, which we’d prefer over the A8’s less powerful unit.
Below the camera module on the back of the R7 Plus sits a fingerprint scanner, which is conveniently-placed and super reliable. It’s just as fast as the unit that you’d find on the Galaxy S6 or even the iPhone. The Galaxy A8 also has a fingerprint reader in its home button, which, at no surprise to us, works just as well as other Samsung devices. This means that it all comes down to placement, and while they both have their positives and negatives, the R7 Plus’ rear-mounted scanner just suits our needs a bit better.
The internals of these two devices are actually quite similar. They both feature octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 processors, which also comes along with an Adreno 405 GPU. No, these aren’t top-of-the-line processors, but they’re both very capable chipsets that should give you little to no problems throughout your daily use. It should be noted that the R7 Plus comes with 3GB of RAM compared to the A8’s 2GB, which could potentially pose a problem for the Samsung device when it comes to software lag.
OPPO really optimized it’s custom Color OS software overlay with the release of the R7 Plus, making the device fly through everyday tasks. We experienced little to no lag in the software or overheating issues, which is a plus. The Galaxy A8 performed quite well in our full review, but not great. We experienced some lag in the software, especially when scrolling through Flipboard home screen. Overall, performance is good and on par with other similarly-spec’d smartphones.
If we had to choose one, though, it’d be the R7 Plus. Both the R7 Plus and A8 sport heavy software skins, and the fact of the matter is that the R7 Plus just handles itself better.
Both devices run a heavily customized version of Android 5.1.1 Lollipop. For starters, the R7 Plus features a much-improved version of OPPO’s Color OS. It doesn’t feature an application drawer, so you’ll need to rely heavily on folders to organize your home screens, which some users might find to be too cumbersome or cluttered. If you can get past that, though, Color OS is pretty sleek.
You can double tap to wake the R7 Plus, and it even supports a handful of gestures that can be used to perform specific actions, such as drawing an “O” in the screen to launch the camera. It might seem a tad gimmicky for some, but we think they can be quite useful at times.
The Galaxy A8 runs Samsung’s typical TouchWiz user interface. This is a much leaner version of TouchWiz than we saw on the first few Galaxy devices, which means there are much fewer unnecessary pre-installed apps this time around. With that said, many of Samsung’s popular features are present on the device, such as multi-window and smart gestures. There’s also a new theming engine present on the A8 that was first introduced on the S6. This lets you easily customize and change the look of your phone’s UI if you’re not a big fan of the blue and green TouchWiz color scheme.
All in all, we’re calling the software portion of this comparison a draw. Both OPPO and Samsung have decided to include some very useful features in these devices, and honestly, it’s pretty difficult to pick between the two.
OPPO R7 Plus
Samsung Galaxy A8
6.0-inch Super AMOLED display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 367ppi
5.7-inch Super AMOLED display, 1920 x 1080 resolution, 386ppi
Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
Qualcomm Snapdragon 615
microSD expansion up to 128GB
microSD expansion up to 128GB
13MP rear-facing camera with laser autofocus
8MP front-facing camera
16MP rear-facing camera
5MP front-facing camera
Android 5.1 Lollipop
Android 5.1 Lollipop
158 x 82 x 7.8mm
158 x 76.8 x 5.9mm
Pricing and final thoughts
Here’s where the comparison gets interesting. The OPPO R7 Plus is available now for pre-order from OppoStyle for $499. The Samsung Galaxy A8 is available for purchase in select regions such as China, South Korea and India for $499 as well. If you want an A8 here in the U.S., though, you’re going to have to purchase one for full price from sites like eBay or Amazon, which could get pretty pricey.
The fact of the matter is, both of these smartphones bring a lot to the table, so it really depends on the market in which you’re currently residing. If you can get your hands on a Galaxy A8 for an affordable price point, that’s not a bad idea. But in most other cases, we’d say go for the OPPO R7 Plus.