Samsung Galaxy A80: The one with the rotating camera


  • TECH
  • Thursday, 26 Sep 2019

The Samsung Galaxy A80's triple-camera unit rises up and flips over, utilising just the one camera system for both front and rear facing photos. — Samsung Malaysia

While the heyday of the flip phone may be long gone, Samsung’s Galaxy A80 carries the torch in a way with its unique flippable camera.

Rather than being just a gimmick, Samsung is killing two birds with one stone with this phone’s design: an expansive notchless screen and an equally good camera for standard photography and for selfies.

Camera acrobatics

While the A80 might look like a typical smartphone from the back – featuring only the Samsung brand name and a row of cameras and a flash – switching the camera to selfie mode causes the top of the phone to rise up, while the row of cameras flips over to face the user.

The A80 has a rotating triple camera with 48-megapixel main unit, 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera, plus a flash. — AZMAN GHANI/The StarThe A80 has a rotating triple camera with 48-megapixel main unit, 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera, plus a flash. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

Despite the size of the slider, the movement is prompt and quiet beyond a slight mechanical whirr as it goes up or down. The motion looks solid, so there’s little to worry about longevity-wise unless you drop it while the slider is popped up.

Those concerned with cleanliness might take issue with how dust tends to build up on the slider, though the occasional gentle wipe down should sort it.

The camera array is made up of a 48-megapixel main unit, an ultrawide 8-megapixel camera and a 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera that detects depth to create bokeh or artistic blurring in portraits.

The pop up camera unit sits perfectly flushed on the Samsung A80's high gloss body, giving it a premium look. — AZMAN GHANI/The StarThe pop up camera unit sits perfectly flushed on the Samsung A80's high gloss body, giving it a premium look. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

The ToF camera works like a charm, highlighting the subject’s face in razor-sharp focus and blurring the background while still keeping it fairly discernible. This is perfect for showing off that outfit of the day (#OOTD) while in an Insta-friendly cafe.

The ultrawide camera can capture nearly twice as wide a scene without needing the user to move further back, though it did suffer some slight fisheye effect. While not optimal for architectural shots, especially at an angle, it works well enough for natural landscapes and group photos.

The main camera does the bulk of the photography and can handle most everyday situations, producing realistic skin tones even in fluorescent lighting.

Despite its complex camera system, the Samsung A80 is about as slim as previous generation Samsung phones. — AZMAN GHANI/The StarDespite its complex camera system, the Samsung A80 is about as slim as previous generation Samsung phones. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

Being able to use the same camera setup for a front-facing camera makes this smartphone a selfie-addict’s dream, and easily outdoes most smartphones that use only a single front-facing camera.

The most dramatic gain is the ultrawide camera that turns selfies into wefies. The selfie mode tends to overcompensate in darker scenes, causing the colour/whites to get flushed, however users can manually override it with an in-screen brightness adjuster.

Oddly, some features are not available when in the front-facing mode. The most glaring (excuse the pun) is not using the build-in flash, instead reverting to the standard screen flash, where a white screen blasts at full brightness.

Certain modes like panoramic and night photography also cannot be accessed, which perhaps comes down to software rather than a hardware issue.

Big screen time

Not needing to make space for a front facing camera means users get an expansive, bezel-less screen. Apart from a slightly thick line at the bottom of the display, the phone appears to be all screen as it boasts a screen-to-body ratio of 85.76%.

The Samsung Galaxy A80's 20:9 aspect ratio screen make it a very tall phone. — AZMAN GHANI/The StarThe Samsung Galaxy A80's 20:9 aspect ratio screen make it a very tall phone. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

This makes it a joy for watching videos sideways, and even more so when scrolling on social media or watching stories on Instagram or Snapchat, where the lack of a notch makes the experience that much more immersive.

The phone’s 6.7in screen is bright and vibrant as expected of a Samsung screen, staying legible even in bright sunlight.

The big-sized phone come with an equal-sized battery that is rated at 3,700mAh, giving it enough juice to run the whole day on a single charge for medium users.

Premium build

For a mid-priced smartphone, the A80 feels premium thanks to the Gorilla Glass used for the display and glass-back, combined with a metal frame for a solid heft in hand.

The combination of glass and metal adds to the classy vibe especially in Phantom Black, though users have brighter, more outgoing options in the form of Ghost White and Angel Gold.

All the Samsung Galaxy A80's ports are at its bottom with speaker grills, SIM card slot and USB-C Port. It doesn't have a 3.5mm jack. — AZMAN GHANI/The StarAll the Samsung Galaxy A80's ports are at its bottom with speaker grills, SIM card slot and USB-C Port. It doesn't have a 3.5mm jack. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

Users with smaller hands might find the large phone a little unwieldy, especially since the slider makes the phone top heavy. In fact, the A80 is a tad bit on the chunky side at 220g and 9.3mm thick. In comparison, its little sibling the A50 is 7.7mm thick and weighs about 25% lighter at 166g.

The slider also requires a few concessions, with most of the other features – the USB-C port, single down-firing speaker, and dual nano-Sim card slot – all located at the bottom.

Powered by a Snapdragon 730 octa-core processor, the Galaxy A80 runs on Android 9 Pie and comes with 8GB RAM and 128GB onboard memory.

The Galaxy A80 is unlocked using an in-screen fingerprint scanner. — AZMAN GHANI/The StarThe Galaxy A80 is unlocked using an in-screen fingerprint scanner. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

It lacks an option for expandable memory and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Not having a front facing camera also means no facial unlock, requiring users to depend on the on-screen fingerprint scanner.

Pros: Cool flipping camera packs equal quality for read and front-facing photography, large, bezel-less screen, premium feel and look.

Cons: No facial unlock, non-expandable memory, no 3.5mm jack. Some features like flash and camera modes are only available when the camera is rear facing.

Galaxy A80

(Samsung)

Android smartphone

NETWORK: 4G

OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 9 Pie

DISPLAY: 6.7in AMOLED (1,080 x 2,400 pixels)

CAMERA: Rotating triple camera with 48-megapixel main unit, 8-megapixel ultrawide and a 3D Time-of-Flight (ToF) camera

CONNECTIVITY: USB Type-C, Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, NFC

PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 730 Octa-core

MEMORY: 128GB internal memory, 8GB RAM

BATTERY: 3,700mAh

OTHER FEATURES: Motorised pop-up rotating camera, GPS, fast wired charging, on-screen fingerprint sensor

DIMENSIONS (H x W x D): 165.2 x 76.5 x 9.3mm

WEIGHT: 220g

WEBSITE: www.samsung.com/my/

PRICE: RM2,499 (inclusive of GST)

RATING: 3.5 stars

Review unit courtesy of Samsung Malaysia Electronics, 1-800-88-9999
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