Original post, June 16: Despite dealing with sales most other OEMs would salivate over, 2014 was arguably one of the worst years in recent memory for Samsung’s finances, in no small part thanks to the Galaxy S5’s less-than-stellar performance and aggressive competition in key markets such as China and India, where the Korean giant fell from its top spot. Having released the metal-framed Galaxy Alpha, Galaxy Note 4, and Galaxy Note Edge, the initially Asia-only “Galaxy A” series saw a single unibody frame making it the first product line that was truly constructed of premium materials. The Galaxy A3 and A5 were decidedly mid-range affairs; however, the johnny-come-lately Galaxy A7 was, in some ways, a Galaxy Note 4 Lite, with its otherwise top-notch specs and phablet sized form factor.
It has long been rumored that Samsung would unveil a Galaxy A6, A8 and A9 to flesh out its anemic 2015 product line thanks to a trademark filing detected earlier this year. The first pictures of the Galaxy A8 (SM-A800F) have leaked via Nowhereelse.fr and it looks… surprisingly like a Galaxy S6 with a metal back.
Sadly, the internal specs are a decidedly different affair, with the current rumors pointing to a 5.7-inch SAMOLED Full HD screen, Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 Octa-Core CPU, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, microSD, a 16-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front shooter. LTE will be included, as will a fingerprint reader home button, and a sealed 3,050 mAh battery. Perhaps fittingly enough, the device is said to be shipping with Android 5.1.1 which should theoretically include the TouchWiz modifications we covered yesterday. The device is allegedly going to be sold in Asia and European markets.
Truth-be-told, when looking at the pictures of the Galaxy A8, it really is difficult to tell the difference between it and a standard Galaxy S6. The front glass has the exact same cut and shape as does the home button. The side (frame) is similar as well, complete with the indented, “sliced” decoration and buttons. It’s only when examining the back that the difference is clear with the metal replacing the S6’s glass and the lack of a heart rate sensor. There is certainly a bit of irony in considering how some critics of the S6 were attacking it for using a fragile material like glass (prone to shattering) instead of metal, a la the HTC One M9. For all those disappointed with the glass sandwich, the A8 would certainly look to be an appealing alternative, albeit with lesser hardware.
The reused design also creates both a proverbial problem, and possible predictive powers: with respect to the former, those who had hoped for the S6 to feature a unique design that wouldn’t be watered down with countless lesser products (thus diminishing the “value” of the S6) will inevitably be miffed to see a leak that looks a lot like what they lusted over. At the same time, given the substantial difference between the A3, A5, and A7, it’s possible that the A8 (and by inference, the A6 and A9 if they exist) are making use of a new level of design language from Samsung for 2015, and therefore the Galaxy Note 5 might be of a similar visual nature as well.
On a final note, while Samsung might deserve kudos for making the “metal Galaxy S6” in design at least, given its 2014 finances and subsequent pledge to slim down its product lines for 2015, there honestly doesn’t seem to be much effort made in that department. The year is just half over, and Samsung has already released the Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, S6 Active, A7, E1, J1, and this leak suggesting there will be at least one more A-series device. Then there’s the rumors of a Galaxy S6 Edge Plus, and the Galaxy Note 5, along with the possibility of a Note Edge 2, and who knows what else. Even the tablet line seems to be business-as-usual with two-different variants of the Tab A (with S-pen and without), the just announced Tab E, and the pending Galaxy Tab S2.
Any thoughts on the Galaxy A8? Does it look better than the S6? Any takers, or at lease people interested in what the A9 might be?