Computer and Tech

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Samsung has considerably closed the design hole between its prime and mid-range telephones with the brand new Samsung Galaxy A3 2017. Nevertheless it’s not the one producer making fascinating telephones for an inexpensive value.

In truth, the South Korean agency isn't the entrance runner within the finances market with robust competitors from the likes of Motorola, Huawei, Honor, Oppo and Wileyfox (within the UK).

What Samsung has accomplished right here although is intelligent, it's taken the design language from its premium Galaxy S vary and introduced it to an entry-level handset – which implies you don't really feel such as you're fully lacking out if the likes of the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus are financially out of attain.

Samsung Galaxy A3 value and launch date

  • Launch value: £279 ($250, round AU$455) SIM free
  • Now accessible from £228.99 ($250, round AU$375)

The Samsung Galaxy A3 launch value was £279 ($250, round AU$455) for this SIM free 2017 version, which is a bit more than half the value of the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge

Since its arrival although, the value has dropped for those who store round, and we've seen the Galaxy A3 as little as £228.99 on Amazon. – which represents a wholesome £50 value drop.

This value level places it in direct competitors with a bunch of spectacular mid-rangers, such because the Moto G5 Plus, Wileyfox Swift 2 X and Honor 6X.

The Galaxy A3 is broadly accessible within the UK, with main networks and retailers and networks stocking the handset, whereas within the US it may be discovered on-line on the likes of Amazon.

Dressed to impress

  • A premium design
  • Water and mud resistance

Samsung’s largest achievement with the Galaxy A3 2017 has been to make a cellphone that appears and feels so much just like the Samsung Galaxy S7 for a few hundred kilos much less.

We’ll go into the specifics of the A3’s design within the following part. Suffice to say that it follows the design language of its premium brother to a fairly spectacular diploma.

It’s bought an all-metal rim, a well-known curved ‘3D Glass’ again, and even a barely shimmery impact to its entrance bezels. Anybody who’s used a Samsung Galaxy S6 or Galaxy S7 for an prolonged interval will be capable to detect the variations, however it’s a creditable approximation regardless.

You even get IP68 certification, which signifies that the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 is as proof against water and mud ingress as its huge brother. That’s not one thing we’re accustomed to seeing on cheaper telephones, so it’s a notable bragging level for the brand new A3.

Samsung appears decided that you simply received’t simply spot the distinction by way of a cursory look of the Galaxy A3’s spec sheet both, with the presence of a customized Exynos 7870 CPU, a 13MP fundamental digicam, and a front-mounted fingerprint sensor all suggestive of upper finish thrills.

Nearer scrutiny of these parts affirms their mid-range standing, however they’re not discovered wanting at this value level.

One forward-looking element the Samsung Galaxy S7 doesn’t have that the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 does is a USB-C port. It’s not an enormous bragging level, however it’s definitely the usual we’re anticipating to see all mid to high-end Android telephones adopting in 2017.

From a sensible perspective it’s a lot simpler to plug in a charger or cable with out wanting, due to USB-C’s reversible nature.

Design and show

  • Design mimics Galaxy S7 properly
  • Shiny and vibrant four.7-inch AMOLED show
  • 720p decision doesn’t appear ample

We’ve already acknowledged that the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 does an important job appropriating the design language of the Samsung Galaxy S7 with comparatively few compromises. However extra importantly, it merely feels nice within the hand.

At 7.9mm thick and weighing 138g, and mixed with that metallic and glass construct, it has an analogous ‘just-so’ heft to the one you get with Apple’s iPhones. You understand you’re holding one thing of high quality, however it received’t remind you of the very fact when it’s sat in your pocket.

In the meantime, that 3D Glass again is greater than only a visible flourish – it ensures that the cellphone sits properly within the curve of your hand.

We’re nonetheless not satisfied that an all-glass again is a very sensible concept in a cellphone, although. In truth, we’re fairly positive it isn’t. 

It makes the cellphone really feel precariously slippery if you’re fishing it out of your pocket, and we suspect it is going to be extra-prone to scuffing and cracking ought to that evasiveness ever present itself and it heads for the ground.

We’re not massively enamored with the Gold Sand colour our check unit got here in, however that’s clearly a subjective matter. There are Black Sky and Blue Mist choices for individuals who like their telephones to be a bit extra understated, and a Peach Cloud choice for individuals who, nicely, like pink.

We now have decidedly blended emotions in regards to the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017’s show. On paper, its four.7-inch Tremendous AMOLED display with 720p decision would possibly sound just like the type of compact display that may give the iPhone 7 a run for its cash. Nevertheless it simply doesn’t.

OK, so it’s bought that super-saturated look that AMOLED panels are recognized for. And also you additionally get Samsung’s standard show choices, so you may tweak it in accordance with your choice (tip: select Fundamental if you wish to tone issues down). However that 720p decision doesn’t appear to do that AMOLED panel any favours on the sharpness depend.

It’s removed from dangerous, however anybody who’s grown used to 1080p screens – as long-time Android customers little doubt have – will most likely discover the drop intimately, even with the smaller-than-usual display measurement.

We moved straight to the A3 from utilizing an iPhone 6S as our day by day driver, which has precisely the identical sized display with an analogous variety of pixels, however even then the Samsung felt decidedly fuzzy and missing a sure readability.

We might really feel churlish complaining about this completely satisfactory decision if it weren’t for the straightforward indisputable fact that many sub-£200/$250/AU$300 Android telephones include 1080p screens. 

The distinction in expertise could have a real influence for those who’re an avid cell media shopper, which we’ll focus on later.

One main benefit of the Galaxy A3’s AMOLED show is that Samsung has been in a position to implement its All the time On Show function. 

This implies you may have a bit clock or calendar completely displayed in plain, dim lettering, full with small icons for incoming notifications. It’s nice for a surreptitious look if you’re in a gathering or watching a film.

Interface and reliability

  • Android is a bit outdated, however nonetheless succesful
  • TouchWiz UI remains to be right here in all its busyness
  • Bodily house key has helpful shortcuts

Straight out of the field you’ll discover Android Marshmallow put in on the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017. That’s not the newest model, as Google formally launched Android Nougat again in August 2016. However within the achingly sluggish world of Android updates, it’s nonetheless comparatively recent.

Particularly when you think about that Samsung, as all the time, has unfold its gloopy TouchWiz UI on prime. Playing cards on the desk: we’ve by no means been an enormous fan, significantly ever since inventory Android began getting actually good a couple of variations in the past.

TouchWiz has all the time felt too cluttered and artlessly constructed, and it tends to clog up Samsung’s in any other case extremely succesful .

To Samsung’s credit score, it has slowly however traceably listened to such criticisms of TouchWiz through the years, and what now we have on the newest Galaxy A3 is way much less obnoxious than the UI was once.

There are simply two house screens from the off, and of the three default widgets one is a Google search bar and one other is an unassuming climate software. The third widget is an entirely pointless and outsized hyperlink to the Galaxy Necessities retailer for all these Samsung-specific apps you nearly definitely don’t want. However as ever, you’re free to take away it.

Samsung’s personal tackle the drop-down notification bar remains to be too busy, however it supplies all of the settings toggles and core features of inventory Android, plus a couple of extra. There’s a Finder bar up there that permits you to seek for native apps and information saved on the cellphone, in addition to scanning for close by gadgets.

We might query why it’s formed like a search bar when it’s really a hyperlink to a devoted Finder app, however you come to count on such selections in TouchWiz, and it’s not an enormous hinderance.

One other fairly unwelcome provision is the devoted Upday display, positioned to the left of the principle homescreen. Upday is a information aggregator service, pulling collectively tales from across the internet and presenting them in a magazine-like format. These tales are apparently chosen in accordance with your pursuits.

We are saying ‘apparently’ as a result of we don’t recall ever exhibiting the slightest curiosity in information of the world’s fattest girl, or in Trinny Woodall’s newest wardrobe malfunction. 

This may be rectified by going by way of and hiding information from undesirable sources and marking particular person tales as uninteresting or attention-grabbing, in order that the app learns extra about your tastes.

Alternatively, you may change Upday off by urgent and holding on an empty space of the house display and scrolling throughout to it, which was our choice. Sadly, there doesn’t appear to be an choice to exchange it with the ever-useful Google Now. You’ll have to make use of the aforementioned Google widget as an alternative.

You may entry Google Now On Faucet with a press and maintain of the house button. This supplies contextual data primarily based on what’s on the display at that specific time – although it’s nonetheless a considerably hit or miss providing from Google.

Our favourite Samsung interface selection really pertains to that bodily house button. Urgent it twice shortly will leap you straight to the digicam, even from the lock display. It’s a brilliantly snappy and dependable strategy to seize an image in a pinch, and we want each producer with a bodily house button did the identical factor (hear that Apple?).

Talking of the house button, it accommodates a fingerprint sensor for safe entry and cell funds. It really works fairly nicely, if not as shortly because the Samsung Galaxy S7 and the iPhone 7 – which you’d count on. The purpose is that it’s sufficiently dependable, so we didn’t as soon as take into account turning the function off, as we frequently do with such a function on cheaper telephones.

Having mentioned that, the lozenge form Samsung goes with ensures you need to be a bit extra exact along with your finger placement than you do with Apple’s telephones.

We nonetheless a lot desire this over rear-mounted Android options, as you may shortly unlock the cellphone even when it’s on a desk or desk fairly than in your hand.

Films, music and gaming

  • Greater than succesful media efficiency
  • Display screen doesn’t present video or video games at their greatest
  • Speaker weirdly positioned
  • 16GB storage isn’t so much even at this value

The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 will deal with all media comfortably, however that’s actually not the main focus with this cellphone. For those who’re actually into watching movies or enjoying video games on the go, specifically, there are higher choices for the cash.

It’s not that the Galaxy A3 struggles to output such content material – its Exynos 7870 CPU is greater than as much as the duty. We’ll focus on this extra within the following part, suffice to say that gaming efficiency is rock stable. 

We managed to play demanding 3D video games like Useless Set off 2 and Reckless Racing three on excessive graphical settings with solely the odd stutter.

As avid gamers, we additionally discovered Samsung’s Recreation Instruments perform to be genuinely helpful. This allows you to do issues like block notifications and lock the cellphone’s capacitive again and up to date keys whilst you’re enjoying.

Nevertheless, the principle challenge with the cellphone’s gaming and video efficiency is all the way down to that four.7-inch 720p show, which doesn’t present visible media at its greatest.

Netflix and YouTube content material seems to be simply high-quality on the show, with colors that pop and completely no efficiency points. However as we’ve already touched upon, there’s a sure softness and fuzziness to the sides for those who maintain the cellphone near your face. 

Which, due to its measurement, you’ll most likely be naturally inclined to do greater than your common 5.5-inch Android cellphone.

One other factor that limits the cellphone’s effectiveness as a media participant is its weedy and oddly positioned speaker. It’s only a small, solitary unit positioned peculiarly simply above the ability button on the right-hand edge.

When watching or enjoying panorama content material, we discovered that we might incessantly cowl this speaker with both our proper thumb or left forefinger, relying on the cellphone’s orientation. 

What’s extra, if the speaker was pointing up, the sound would are likely to get misplaced because it was naturally directed away from our face.

Plug in a set of earphones, in fact, and the issue goes away. As a private audio participant, the Galaxy A3 2017 is as completed as another trendy mid-range cellphone. You get Google Play Music as your default audio participant, which is as nice to make use of as ever, whether or not coping with your individual regionally saved information or a Play Music streaming account.

Speaking of storage, the cellphone comes with 16GB as normal. That’s not an terrible lot in reality, and there are telephones on the market that present extra for much less cash, just like the Wileyfox Swift 2 X with 32GB and the Bush Spira E3X with 64GB.

Nonetheless, there may be ample room for growth within the A3, with a microSD card slot allowing as much as 256GB of additional storage to be added on.

Efficiency and benchmarks

  • Exynos 7870 CPU yields middling benchmark outcomes
  • Actual world efficiency, nevertheless, can’t be faulted

Samsung has gone with its personal customized Exynos 7870 CPU for the Galaxy A3 2017, which makes an attention-grabbing change from all these mid-range Snapdragons which have flooded the market. In uncooked stat-crunching phrases, nevertheless, it hasn’t led to an enormous leap.

A mean Geekbench four multicore rating of 3347 is simply high-quality, however it’s removed from spectacular. In truth, that locations it roughly within the ballpark of barely cheaper telephones just like the Honor 6X (which scored 3275) and the Moto G4 Plus (on 3047). What’s extra, each of these telephones are having to drive crisper 1080p shows.

That rating could have one thing to do with the A3’s considerably meagre reminiscence allotment. Simply 2GB of RAM appears considerably stingy when there are £200/$250/AU$300 telephones on the market with 3GB or extra.

After all, a cellphone’s efficiency is about much more than benchmarking outcomes and uncooked specs. Much more necessary is the way it feels and responds within the hand, and in that regard we had few complaints with the 2017 Galaxy A3.

As we’ve simply talked about, gaming efficiency was completely first rate, with 3D video games like Reckless Racing three and PinOut working at an honest lick with out distracting body charge points.

Through the use of its personal chip, Samsung has evidently been in a position to optimize the expertise to a big extent. Certain sufficient, flicking by way of the A3’s house screens, shopping the web, and opening apps was a largely lag-free expertise.

Leaping to the cellphone’s digicam by way of that double-press shortcut, in the meantime, wasn’t precisely instantaneous, however it was appreciably swift.

Battery life

  • 2,350mAh battery lasts two days of reasonable utilization
  • Unusually quick drain in airplane mode

The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017’s 2,350mAh battery may not sound all that mighty – particularly when you think about that its huge brother, the Samsung Galaxy S7, has a three,000mAh unit.

However in fact, the Galaxy A3 has a smaller and far much less pixel-packed show and a decrease energy CPU. The results of that is some actually spectacular ranges of stamina.

Normally utilization, we had been incessantly getting by way of to mattress time with 50% or extra left within the tank. This was with what we’d time period reasonable use – so a couple of calls, texts, and on the spot messages, a good quantity of internet shopping, and a few mild gaming. 

Meaning it’s good for 2 days of utilization, whereas even heavy customers will get by way of a full day with energy to spare.

The Galaxy A3 bears up nicely beneath pressure, too. Ten minutes of Useless Set off 2 working on excessive graphical settings sapped four% of the battery, which isn’t dangerous in any respect.

Video doesn’t take its toll both. Once we put the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 by way of the usual TechRadar battery check, which is a 90 minute looping 720p video with the display brightness cranked proper as much as full, it sapped simply eight% of a full battery.

That compares very favourably to the Oppo F1 Plus with 12%, the Honor 6X with 15%, and the Moto G4 Plus with 17%. Properly accomplished, Samsung.

One slight anomaly was the cellphone’s in a single day battery efficiency. Throughout eight hours of airplane mode time, we discovered that the A3 misplaced 11% of its juice. 

That’s not a deal-breaker – significantly as that is normally when most individuals cost their telephones anyway – however it suggests a bit inefficiency throughout off intervals.


  • 13MP digicam struggles on Auto in low and blended lighting
  • HDR mode very completed
  • 8MP selfie cam is ok, however magnificence choices are gimmicky

Samsung has fitted the Galaxy A3 2017 out with a 13MP fundamental digicam and an impressive-sounding f/1.9 aperture lens. Technically, the latter ought to seize extra mild than many decrease and mid-range telephones are able to. 

This has apparent potential with low-light pictures, the place shutter occasions can normally be stored a bit briefer, leading to much less movement blur.

Frankly, although, we didn’t see the complete advantage of that in our time with the cellphone. Capturing in something lower than optimum lighting usually resulted in blurry, grainy pictures.

The A3’s digicam appeared to battle with dynamic vary in its common Auto mode, as is commonly the case with something lower than a flagship cellphone. There’s an HDR Wealthy tone mode, nevertheless, which requires you to slip left and manually choose it. 

You additionally have to you should definitely maintain the cellphone regular whereas taking pictures on this mode.

However as soon as activated, we discovered this HDR mode to be very efficient at night out the extremes of sunshine in sure photos. There was not one of the bizarre ‘pretend actuality’ impact that almost all low-cost telephones appear to create with their HDR modes – maybe the surest signal of Samsung’s appreciable digicam experience at play within the A3.

Certainly, even outdoors of the HDR mode we managed to seize the odd spectacular shot on the usual Auto setting. A few of our panorama pictures captured the nice and cozy mild of an unseasonably sunny winter’s day very nicely, whereas snaps of a household enjoying desk tennis captured the ball in mid air with none movement blur.

Give the Galaxy A3 2017 digicam the best circumstances and also you’ll be capable to seize some first rate pictures. However in lower than optimum lighting circumstances, the default Auto mode will battle. And that’s exactly how the overwhelming majority of individuals shopping for a mid-range smartphone will probably be taking pictures, nearly completely.

There’s additionally a Professional mode on provide right here, although it limits you to tweaking the white steadiness, ISO, and publicity compensation. It’s not as complete as Professional modes in dearer telephones.

Samsung has fitted the A3 2017 with an 8MP entrance digicam, which isn’t fairly as spectacular in a mid-range cellphone because it may need been a yr or two in the past. In spite of everything, the Oppo F1 Plus includes a 16MP selfie cam. However that’s nonetheless loads of pixels to your self shot.

Theres additionally a floating Magnificence button that permits you to ‘improve’ your options by night out your pores and skin tone, making your face slimmer, and growing the scale of your eyes. That’s the thought anyway. In follow we discovered it tends to make you appear to be an alien.

Digicam samples


Samsung has constructed a well-balanced cellphone within the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017. It will get surprisingly near the feel and appear of the Samsung Galaxy S7, regardless of costing round half the value.

The A3 even shares its huge brother’s water and mud resistance ranking, which is fairly spectacular in a mid-ranger. Components like a stable fingerprint sensor and Samsung’s All the time On Show have additionally been carried throughout efficiently.

These anticipating Samsung to carry its digicam and show excellence to the mid-range will probably be considerably dissatisfied, nevertheless, whereas the TouchWiz UI received’t be profitable over any new followers.

All in all, that is an assured effort from Samsung, however it’s generally onerous to make a transparent distinction between this providing and that of elegant sub-£200/$250/AU$300 telephones just like the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus.

Who's this for?

The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 is right for individuals who need the fashionable appear and feel of the Samsung Galaxy S7, however aren’t ready to pay the premium value. 

Its small 720p show and modest CPU imply it’s not for energy customers or huge media shoppers, however it does the smartphone fundamentals with some poise and magnificence.

Do you have to purchase it?

As soon as-premium design parts have been creeping into the extra inexpensive finish of the smartphone market over the previous yr or two, and the Galaxy A3 continues that development.

Its metallic and glass building suggests a stage of exclusiveness past its price ticket, whereas its IP68 ranking signifies that this high quality isn’t merely pores and skin deep.

Use the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 extensively, and the cracks will start to seem – an underwhelming show right here, a hit-and-miss digicam there. For informal customers trying to make a trendy assertion, nevertheless, it’s nicely price contemplating.

The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 is a stable improve on its predecessor and an completed mid-range cellphone, however there are different robust choices too, similar to the next three handsets.

Oppo F1 Plus

Oppo has gone with an analogous mix of premium design and middling efficiency to Samsung, with an analogous price ticket to match. Whereas it’s not fairly as cohesively designed because the Galaxy A3, the F1 Plus has a few distinct benefits.

It has a bigger, sharper 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED show, a considerably extra capacious 64GB of storage, double the RAM, and a extra spectacular 16MP front-facing digicam.

After all, you additionally get Oppo’s customized Colour OS, which if something is even fussier than TouchWiz.

Honor 6X

Right here’s one other high-value Chinese language handset providing a premium (roughly) design and a spread of seemingly high-end options for not some huge cash. In truth, the Honor 6X is an efficient chunk cheaper than the Galaxy A3 at £230/$250 (round AU$390).

It too has a metallic physique and speedy fingerprint sensor, however it additionally has the good thing about a dual-sensor digicam, which lets you attain a pronounced depth of subject impact in your pictures.

Once more, you get a bigger and sharper 5.5-inch 1080p show and a aggressive chipset. However you need to put up with a clunky customized UI and significantly much less model cachet.

Wileyfox Swift 2 X

British upstart Wileyfox has clearly discovered the knack for creating fantastically designed telephones that undercut established rivals on value. The Wileyfox Swift 2 X has a 5.2-inch 1080p show, 32GB of storage, and a 16MP digicam to enhance its sharp metallic physique – all for £220 (round $275/AU$360).

It’s not as highly effective because the Galaxy A3 2017, and its battery life isn’t anyplace close to pretty much as good, however the Swift 2 X has a a lot slicker customized Cyanogen UI, so TouchWiz haters ought to take observe.

There are circumstances to be made for each telephones, however the Wileyfox Swift 2 X positively looks like the higher worth proposition of the 2.

First reviewed: February 2017

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