Hands on: Samsung Galaxy A80 review

The Galaxy A80 pops-up and takes us for a spin

What is a hands on review?
Image Credit: TechRadar

Early Verdict

Don't be put off by the pop-up, rotating camera gimmick. It's fun to use, but the Samsung Galaxy A80 looks to be much more than just a one-trick pony.

For

  • Fun pop-up, rotating camera
  • Excellent, notch-less screen
  • Plenty of power and storage

Against

  • Durability concerns
  • No headphone jack
  • Big and thick

The Samsung Galaxy A80 has a fun party piece. It not only has a pop-up triple camera system, those three lenses also rotate to act as selfie snappers. When it comes to showing off the latest kit to your friends, the A80 will certainly get some positive feedback.

But having been hands on with Samsung's latest top-of-the-range of its mid-range series, there's much more to the Galaxy A80 than its party-piece camera.

It also packs a 6.7-inch Full HD+ display, octa-core chipset, 8GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, 3,700mAh battery and an in-display fingeprint scanner.

Samsung Galaxy A80 release date and price

The Samsung Galaxy A80 release date is set for May 29, at least in some regions. It won't arrive everywhere at the same time, but Samsung is yet to reveal which regions will be first to get their hands on the A80.

We're also in the dark as to the price, but it will be cheaper than the Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10 Plus. However, whether it will also undercut the Galaxy S10e remains to be seen, as that rotating camera can't be cheap.

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar

Design and display

The Samsung Galaxy A80 has a premium glass design, with a metal frame running around its circumference which feels good in the hand.

It is however big and thick at 165.2 x 76.5 x 9.3mm, making it difficult to use one-handed, and the mechanics behind the pop-up camera means it's also a little top heavy. This is certainly a phone you'll want to use both hands for most of the time.

The power switch is on the right of the phone, while the volume is on the left and both are easy enough to hit - as long as your hand is big enough to wrap round the A80. It'll be available in black, gold and white when it goes on sale.

There's no headphone jack here, with the base of the Galaxy A80 featuring the SIM tray, USB-C port and single, down-firing speaker.

This biggest design point here though is the pop-up camera, which sees a section the same width as the phone rise up when you switch to selfie mode in the camera app.

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar

The smooth rise, and the subsequent spin of the triple camera block is a fun novelty, which we raised and lowered again and again during our hands on time with the Galaxy A80.

It's likely the novelty of this feature will wear off after a while, but we reckon it'll still raise a smile each time the cameras pop up and flip round to face you.

There is a little bit of worry with this though. As with the Oppo Find X which as a similarly sized pop-up camera section, we wonder just how durable the moving bodywork is if you were to drop the A80. Plus with the added complexity of the spinning camera, there's even more things to potentially break.

The moving section also means it would be difficult to fit a case which properly protected all of the phone, so you may need to handle with care if you do opt for a Samsung Galaxy A80.

What the pop-up camera does provide, however, is an all-screen display which isn't uninterrupted by a notch or punch-hole camera for an eye-catching overall look.

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Samsung has squashed the bezels to as narrow as possible all the way round the 6.7-inch display, which makes for a striking finish - although it's not bezel-less.

With a Full HD+ resolution (1080 x 2400) and Super AMOLED panel the display on the Galaxy A80 is bright, clear and colorful which should bode well for gamers and Netflix bingers alike - although we'll put it to the test in our review.

Finally, there's an in-display fingerprint scanner too, a feature which has generally been reserved for flagship devices, so it's good to see the technology filter down to the next price tier. 

We were unable to test out its accuracy and speed during our hands on time, so keep an eye out for our Samsung Galaxy A80 review where we'll put it through its paces.

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar

Cameras

The whole point of the rotating cameras on the Samsung Galaxy A80 is so you can utlize the same great cameras on the rear of the phone, on the front. Most smartphones tend to give you excellent rear cameras and inferior front snappers.

With Samsung aiming the Galaxy A80 and the rest of its A series at young people who like to create, share and send live video content, it makes sense to give them the best camera experience no matter which way they're using the phone.

The main 48MP (f/2.0) sensor is the default camera available to you when you open the camera app, but it's easy to switch between it and the 8MP (f/2.2) ultra-wide (123 degree) camera which allows you to fit more into your shot.

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar

Quality isn't as high as the main camera, but its good to have the option to open up your field of view so readily available. Samsung isn't the first to do this - there are plenty of other Android manufacturers offering similar - but it's good to see a feature packed camera.

The third camera is a 3D depth sensor, providing excellent background blur for the Live Focus mode which de-focuses the background of your shots while keeping the foreground in focus. It's Samsung's answer to Apple's Portrait mode on iPhone.

From our brief hands on time Live Focus seemed to work well, allowing us to adjust the level of blur and showing us live results before hitting the shutter.

It also gives you Live Focus Video, for real time background blurring when you're shooting video for a more striking visual experience. This mode is only available when using the setup as rear cameras - not selfie - and the same can be said for the super slow motion mode as well.

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar

Battery and specs

The Samsung Galaxy A80 comes with a reasonably sized 3,700mAh battery and support for 25W fast charging.

Under the hood you'll find an octa-core chipset, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, giving you plenty of power and space for all your apps, games, photos and videos.

There isn't any expandable storage option here though, so if you're someone who downloads big apps and videos, you may want to keep an eye on the space.

The Galaxy A80 runs Android 9 with Samsung's One UI over the top, giving you a very similar look and feel to the Galaxy S10 and S10 Plus. It's a light Android skin which doesn't require too much of a learning curve to get used to (if you're moving from another Android device that is).

Android felt smooth under finger, but the handset we got hands on with was running final software so you'll have to wait for our A80 review to find out just how well it performs.

Image Credit: TechRadar

Image Credit: TechRadar

Early verdict

It's the rotating, pop-up cameras which will draw attention to the Samsung Galaxy A80, but this phone isn't just a one-trick pony. Samsung has packed in plenty of features to make the A80 a compelling device.

Ultimately the success of the phone comes down to price, and for now we don't know how much the Galaxy A80 will cost. With a large display and motorized camera block the price may be quite high - too high and it'll clash with the S10 line. 

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.