|+ Great screen||- Plastic build|
|+ Low price||- Few standout features|
|+ Decent performance||- Little built in storage|
"The Samsung Galaxy J3 lacks innovation but for the price bracket it’s in it barely puts a foot wrong, delivering on almost all fronts.".
Few companies can make phones as well as Samsung and with the Galaxy J3 it’s seemingly set out to prove that it can deliver impressive hardware even to budget buyers.
It doesn’t have the flagship build of Samsung’s premium phones like the Galaxy S7, but it aims to get the basics right, with a solid chunk of power and one of the company’s famously colourful screens. But competition is fierce even at the low end of the market, so has Samsung done enough to make the Galaxy J3 stand out?
The Samsung Galaxy J3 doesn’t immediately stand out, but nor is it an ugly phone. It’s clad in plastic, as you’d expect for a handset that can be found from around £120. But it’s slim at just 7.9mm thick and the bezels around the screen are surprisingly small.
This gives the impression of a compact, well put together device and while it’s plain it looks distinctively Samsung, with curved corners and an oblong home button. Higher end materials or a bit more design flair would be nice, but neither can be expected at this price.
The screen is the best bit of the Samsung Galaxy J3. It’s a decent size at 5 inches and its 720 x 1280 resolution makes it a sharp 294 pixels per inch.
That’s impressively large and crisp for a budget phone, but what really makes it stand out is the Super AMOLED technology used. Samsung is famed for this, as it makes images bright, vibrant and colourful. They can be slightly oversaturated, so if you prefer natural tones this might not be for you, but it’s not over the top and it means images really come to life.
Add in the small bezels and compact design of the phone and this is a near perfect balance between large size and easy to use, as you can comfortably operate it one-handed, yet it’s large enough to do justice to photos and videos.
The Samsung Galaxy J3 is no weak performer, as it has both a 1.2GHz quad-core processor and 1.5GB of RAM. The processor isn’t a real standout, especially as it’s a low-end Spreadtrum one, but it’s up to the calibre we’d expect at this price and the amount of RAM is slightly higher than you’d sometimes get, with many budget phones packing just 1GB.
All in all, this won’t trouble more expensive phones but the Samsung Galaxy J3 can easily stand up to other entry-level handsets and has enough oomph to cope comfortably with apps, web browsing and basic games.
With an 8MP rear camera and a 5MP front-facing one the Samsung Galaxy J3 has a decent setup here too. Don’t expect stand out snaps, but the spec is high enough to take detailed images from both sensors. Stick to using it in good lighting conditions and you’ll get some pleasing images.
The rear camera also has an LED flash, so it’s not hopeless in darker environments and it can shoot video in up to 720p at 30fps, so it’s up to the task of capturing home movies too.
Samsung’s TouchWiz interface can feel a bit cluttered compared to stock Android, but it’s become more polished over the years and here it’s fairly intuitive to use. For those new to smartphones there’s also an easy mode, which gives you fewer, larger icons and simpler app interactions.
Underneath Samsung’s UI the Galaxy J3 is running Android Lollipop, so it’s ever so slightly out of date there but not lacking any vital features and there’s always a chance it will get updated to Android Marshmallow at some point.
The Samsung Galaxy J3 doesn’t really have any standout features to shout about. That’s a shame, as it would have helped the phone stand out, but we didn’t really expect much at this price and it’s got the basics covered well.
The Samsung Galaxy J3 has a 2600 mAh battery. That’s a reasonable size for a low spec phone and with moderate use it will easily last you a day. Samsung has also included tools to help you stretch it out longer. There’s Smart Manager which can turn off background data and detect battery draining apps and there’s Ultra Power Saving mode which disables everything but the essentials.
Memory comes in at either 8GB or 16GB. Neither capacity if exactly huge, but you can substantially beef it up with a microSD card of up to 128GB.
Connectivity options include Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and Bluetooth 4.1. There’s no NFC here, but when even some high-spec phones like the OnePlus 2 lack that we can’t really complain.
The Samsung Galaxy J1 is a phone that gets almost everything right. With a plain design and no standout features it’s hard to really get excited about, but with a great screen, solid specs and decent battery life it’s well worth considering if you’re looking for something in the £100-£150 range.
For that sort of money you’ll find other phones that can do some aspects better, but few that are as good all-rounders, particularly if you’re sticking to big name brands.
Dimensions (mm): 142.3 x 71 x 7.9
Weight (g): 138
Battery capacity (mAh): 2600
Colours: White, Black, Gold
Screen size (inches): 5.0
Resolution: 720x1280 pixels
Pixels per inch (PPI): 294
Processor: 1.2GHz quad-core
Processor make: Spreadtrum SC8830
Internal storage: 8/16GB
Expandable storage up to (GB): 128GB
Camera: 8-megapixel and 5-megapixel
Operating System: Android Lollipop
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