Samsung doesn’t just make flagships, it also makes impressive budget phones, such as the beautifully built Samsung Galaxy A3 2016, which we gave four stars to in our review.
But good as that phone is it’s a 2016 handset, and we’re living in a 2017 world, which is why Samsung’s now launched the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017.
This phone is broadly similar but with a number of changes and improvements, but just how exactly does it compare to the Galaxy A3 2016? Read on to find out.
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (134.5 x 65.2 x 7.3mm) vs Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 (135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9mm)
There’s not much difference in the design of these two phones, but that’s no bad thing, as they’re both premium and stylish, which is surprising given their relatively budget cost.
Both handsets have a metal frame and glass back, a lot like the flagship Samsung Galaxy S7. There are some differences between the Galaxy A3 2016 and the Galaxy A3 2017 though. The 2017 model has slightly more rounded corners and it’s IP68 certified dust and water resistant down to depths of 1.5 metres for up to 30 minutes.
That water resistance is a real rarity on affordable handsets and the biggest design improvement over the Samsung Galaxy A3 2016.
Not everything’s improved though, as the Galaxy A3 2017 is actually a slightly larger and thicker phone, despite there being no change in the screen size.
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (4.7-inch 720 x 1280) vs Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 (4.7-inch 720 x 1280)
There’s even less differences between of the screens of these two phones, as both have 4.7-inch 720 x 1280 Super AMOLED displays.
Super AMOLED is a technology used in most Samsung handsets and tends to lead to more vivid images than LCD screens can manage, while that 720p resolution amounts to a pixel density of 312 pixels per inch, which ensures images look quite sharp.
These are relatively compact phones too, but not tiny, matching the iPhone 7 for size.
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (quad-core Snapdragon 410 1.5GB RAM) vs Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 (octa-core Exynos 7870 2GB RAM)
The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 has had a big power upgrade, with a 1.6GHz octa-core Snapdragon 7870 chipset and 2GB of RAM, where the Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 has just a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 chip and 1.5GB of RAM.
Neither of these are high-end specs, but the Galaxy A3 2017’s is mid-range, while the A3 2016’s is closer to entry level. As such you can expect smoother performance from the A3 2017.
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (13MP rear 5MP front-facing) vs Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 (13MP rear 8MP front-facing)
There are camera upgrades to be found on the new Samsung Galaxy A3 2017, but not on the rear camera, rather on the often-neglected front-facing one, as where the Galaxy A3 2016 has just a 5MP sensor, the Galaxy A3 2017 has an 8MP one.
It’s worth noting that even 5MP is in line with some flagships, like the Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, but 8MP is a well above average spec for a front-facing camera, and means the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 can take more detailed selfies.
Elsewhere there’s little to choose, but both phones are reasonably well equipped, with 13MP rear cameras, an LED flash and the ability to record video in up to 1080p.
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (2300mAh 16GB 4G) vs Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 (2350mAh 16GB 4G)
Battery life has also been given a boost on the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017, or at least battery size, with a 2350mAh juice pack in place of the 2300mAh one in the Samsung Galaxy A3 2016.
That’s only an improvement of 50mAh but every little helps – though the A3 2016 already has strong battery life, lasting at least a day of moderate use and up to two days of light use in our tests.
Memory hasn’t changed though, with both phones offering 16GB built in and a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 256GB, giving you lots of space to play with.
Connectivity options are largely identical too, with both phones sporting Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, NFC and Bluetooth (4.1 in the A3 2016’s case and 4.2 for the A3 2017).
NFC is worth highlighting, as it’s far from a guaranteed feature on mid-range handsets, and it’s especially useful on the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 as that phone also has a fingerprint scanner, so you can make contactless payments with it.
The Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 is available now from around £14 per month on contract or £240 on pay as you go.
The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 isn’t out yet, but it’s coming soon and Three has confirmed that it will be stocking the phone when it does launch, likely in February. Official pricing hasn’t yet been confirmed, but it’s expected to cost around £300 SIM-free, in which case we’d imagine contract prices will start at roughly £20 per month.
The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 is a significant improvement on the Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 in some ways and not so much in others.
It has a lot more power, a water-resistant build, a fingerprint scanner, a better front-facing camera and a slightly larger battery.
However, the design is similar (and thicker) and everything else, from the screen, to the rear camera, to the storage capacity are more or less exactly the same.
Then again, the Galaxy A3 2017 also isn’t expected to be much more expensive, so if you have slightly more cash available and want a more premium experience it could well be worth it.
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