Samsung’s Galaxy S8 might be the firm’s latest flagship, but this year’s Samsung Galaxy A3 proves you don’t have to pay top whack for a first-rate Android experience.
The Korean giant’s 2017 Galaxy A3 refresh offers premium flagship features at just a fraction of the price.
For £279 you’re getting a decent upgrade from previous offerings. For starters, this year’s A3 (and its pricier A5 brother) borrows that curved-edged glass front from its flagship forebears. It’s a pleasant little rectangle to hold, with its all-metal body and clean, 7.9mm-thin chamfered edges sitting comfortably in the palm. It’s a classy, lightweight handheld that clearly draws inspiration from its more extravagant counterparts.
The rear camera bump has now been completely eliminated, and the A3 is also IP68 certified and given the price, should make for one of the cheapest water-resistant Android devices on the market.
Front and centre is that 4.7in 720p, Super AMOLED display, though. Its pixel density of 312ppi isn’t quite as sharp as the A5 with its 5.2in Full HD panel – and the Honor 6X packs a Full HD display for less – but it still left me satisfied. Colours were punchy and vibrant, while app icons didn’t look overly pixellated on closer inspection.
Samsung Galaxy A3 review (2017): Camera
While the A3’s front-facing camera has seen a nudge from 5 megapixels to 8 megapixels, its rear snapper remains unchanged. Still, its 13-megapixel camera seemed to be a decent performer during my rushed stint with it, producing some lavish detail-rich shots of the murky Thames.
Similar to Huawei, specific camera settings can now be toggled on/off via quick swipes to the left and right in the camera app, rather than having to navigate through cumbersome menus.
There’s also a movable on-screen shutter button for one-handed selfie addicts and a new “food” filter that tinkers with colour saturation while applying a faux depth-of-field effect to backgrounds.
Samsung Galaxy A3 review (2017): Performance
This year’s Galaxy A3 is powered by an Octa-core Exynos 7870 chip clocked at 1.6GHz, with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of internal storage. My initial playtime was short yet performance felt snappy: UI animations were carried off with effortless ease, as was zooming and panning around Google Maps, and it should be capable of a little gaming, too, if a quick session blasting away at enemy ships in Sky Force: Reloaded is anything to go by.
As for battery life, I can’t tell that until I’ve tested one fully, but it doesn’t look all that promising. Equipped with a small 2,350mAh battery, I’d be surprised if stamina didn’t suffer, but Samsung seems confident, quoting up to 17 hours of talk time. You don’t get fast-charging support as with the A5, though.
Samsung Galaxy A3 review (2017): Early verdict
With MWC likely to be devoid of any Galaxy S8 announcements come late February, Samsung’s A3 (along with its dearer A5 brother) has a hog the limelight for a time. While not as bargain-basement as its Galaxy J lineup, this year’s feature-rich A3 brings plenty of enticing features to the pocket, and with far less of an impact on your wallet than the top of the range S-series phones.
The competition is stiff, with Honor, LG and Lenovo already pushing out impressive, low-priced alternatives, but at £279, 2017’s Galaxy A3 has a good chance of success. Stay tuned for my full review in the near future.
See also: OnePlus 3T review: Nougat nouse