• Full Review
  • Specifications

Full Review

Samsung’s all about premium materials now, with its flagship Galaxy S6 showing that it really has moved away from plastic.

It’s not just flagships that benefit either, as even lower end phones are getting a dose of style and at around £200 the Samsung Galaxy A3 is the most affordable Samsung phone you’ll find with a premium build.

But while good looks are great it takes more to make a good handset, so does the Samsung Galaxy A3 have what it takes? Read on to find out.

Design

The design is obviously the highlight of the Galaxy A3 and it’s not just a shrunk down version of the Galaxy S6 either, as rather than a glass back it has a metal unibody and it’s fairly slim at just 6.9mm thick.

It looks premium, especially for the money, but it’s not a perfect design, as the bezels around the screen are fairly large and it’s offputtingly light at 110.3g. We don’t want our phones to be heavy but a little bit of weight is nice so they feel solid.

Still, while it could certainly be better and indeed has been bettered by the Samsung Galaxy S6, HTC One M9 and others it really is impressive for a £200 phone. You’ll struggle to find much else that looks quite as good for the money.

Screen

The screen is a bit less impressive. It has a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED display, which is a bit on the small side, but that’s fine if you want a compact screen and Super AMOLED ensures it’s bright, rich and vibrant.

The problems come with the resolution though, as at just 540 x 960 it has a pixel density of a mere 245 pixels per inch.

There’s worse out there, but there’s also better, with the Moto G 2nd generation for example offering a larger, sharper, higher resolution screen at a lower price.

Ignoring comparisons to other phones though it’s not terrible, images and text are noticeably less sharp than they could be but the richness of the display helps to compensate somewhat.

Power

Things on the power front are a mixed bag. The Samsung Galaxy A3 has a 1.2GHz quad-core Snapdragon 410 processor and 1.5GB of RAM. The RAM is pretty good for the money, in fact it could have probably got by with just 1GB, so 1.5GB is nice to see, but the processor doesn’t quite cut it.

Entry level smartphones are running quad-core chips now and the only advantage this one has over them is that it’s 64-bit rather than 32-bit. But at least it’s now running Android 5.0, which supports 64-bit processors, unlike Android 4.4.4 which it launched with, making it better able to capitalise on the performance improvements the processor brings.

In practice performance isn’t too shabby at all and you could argue that’s the most important thing, but it’s noticeably slower at opening apps and weaker at handling HD games than phones using more powerful chips and for the money the expectation of a more powerful chip doesn’t seem unreasonable, though it may have come at the cost of the premium design.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy A3’s specs aren’t all bad news, it actually has a pretty good camera. The main camera is an 8 megapixel one, which is a spec that’s now filtering down to lower end phones like the A3 but is high enough to take detailed photos.

The Samsung Galaxy A3 has also benefitted from the world’s selfie obsession, as it has a 5 megapixel wide-angle front-facing snapper, which is almost up to the standards of many high end front-facing cameras.

It you like tweaking settings you’ll have plenty to play with here, as well as various scene and shooting modes. Don’t get us wrong, there are far better smartphone cameras out there. The Samsung Galaxy S6 for example blows it away, but we’re talking about a £200 phone and for that money the Galaxy A3’s snapper impresses.

Features

Other than its metal build the Samsung Galaxy A3’s main features are perhaps its connectivity options, as not only does it support 4G, which is just about expected but still not guaranteed in this price range, it also supports NFC, which allows for contactless payments and seamless Bluetooth pairing. It’s pretty much a guaranteed feature on high end phones but still often absent from mid rangers.

The Galaxy A3 has also been upgraded to Android 5.0 since launch, so it’s on essentially the latest version of Android, albeit overlaid with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface.

Battery life, memory and connectivity

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

There’s a 1900 mAh battery in the Samsung Galaxy A3 and while it’s not terrible it’s not brilliant either. We’d say it’s average at best in fact, giving you around a day of moderate use, which is a common figure on phones but all you really need in most cases.

There’s 16GB of storage baked in, which is about what we’d expect for this price and is a solid amount. 8GB is almost indefensibly low but 16GB gives you room to manoeuvre. When you do run low there’s also a microSD card slot with support for cards of up to 64GB. That’s especially worthy of mention as the Samsung Galaxy S6 doesn’t have one.

Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, Bluetooth 4.0 and NFC, which is a good selection for a lower mid-range phone.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy A3 looks the part and it will keep photo fans happy, but it’s not quite the complete package, with a slightly disappointing screen and processor. We want to emphasise slightly though, as neither aspect of the phone is a disaster and the generous amount of RAM helps keep performance solid.

So really it comes down to how tight your budget is and how much you want a phone with a premium design, because if you can live with plastic you can get something with slightly better specs. But you might have to sacrifice a good camera, not to mention NFC and a microSD card slot.

Sacrifices almost always have to be made a this price and as long as you know what to expect you can look forward to an eye-catching often impressive handset, but one with room for improvement.

Specifications

Specifications

Dimensions : 130.1 x 65.5 x 6.9mm

Weight: 110.3 grams

Screen size: 4.5” Super AMOLED (540 x 960)

Screen Resolution: 540 x 960 display resolution

Pixels Per Inch (PPI): 245

Processor: 1.2GHz Quad core application processor

RAM: 1.5GB

On-board Memory: 16GB (microSD card support)

Camera: 8MP (rear), 1080p at 30fps (5 megapixel front-facing)

Operating system: Android 5.0

Ultrafast / 3G / 4G LTE: Yes/ Yes/ Yes

Bluetooth / NFC : Yes/ Yes

Battery capacity: 1900mAh

Colours: Pearl White, Midnight Black, Platinum Silver, Soft Pink, Light Blue, Champagne Gold

Launch Date: Out now
Price: £200

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