Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

Introduction


For a third time in a row, Samsung starts the year by releasing three new mid-range phones of the Galaxy A series, and the 2017 edition of the lineup is the most impressive yet. Samsung has made three phones that have an exceptional look and feel, just like its most expensive phones, and the new Galaxy A3 (2017) is the most compact, the most affordable and the cutest of the three.

The new A3 (2017) is a 4.7-inch _phone_ with a Super AMOLED display and a look nearly identical to that of the Galaxy S7 with the same stylish glass and metal construction, and even the same high water protection rating, a first in a _phone_ in this price class.

Clearly, Samsung has taken some shortcuts: the new A3 uses a less powerful chip than the top dogs, features less storage and makes some other compromises, but can its low price make up for that? Let’s find out and take a deeper look.

In the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) model SM-A320F
  • User Manual
  • SIM ejector tool
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • White Samsung earbuds with replaceable rubber tips
  • Wall charger (7.75 watts peak, 5V and 1.55A)

Design

Designed to near perfection, with a curved glass back, metal frame and full-on water-protection.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A3 (2017) is as good as phones get in terms of looks. We have the beautiful, deep black glossy version up for review, a glass-and-metal construction that feels so solidly, so well put together, we’d forgive you if you mistake it for a much more expensive phone (it helps that it also looks almost exactly like the S7). With a slight curve on the back and a compact size, the new A3 feels extremely comfortable in the hand. It’s thinner than you’d expect and it’s nicely balanced, with some weight to it that prevents it from feeling too airy or hollow: it feels monolithic. Every little aspect of this phone feels thought out, and even the side buttons are made out of metal and have nice travel and feel.

The one practical downside of having a beautiful glass phone, however, is the way its back catches fingerprints with an incredible ease and quickly turns into a smudgy mess that you have to clean or protect with a case. This was very noticeable on the black version that we have for review, but it might not be so noticeable with other colors: Samsung is also offering the phone in Gold Sand, Blue Mist, and Peach Cloud.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

Another key feature of the A3 is its very compact physical size: it has a 4.7-inch display, but it also has very narrow side bezels, so overall the phone is actually even smaller than the already compact iPhone 7. It’s not quite iPhone SE like, but it is still definitely very comfortable for single-handed use.

We’re also glad to see that Samsung has finally done away with microUSB, and even this affordable new A3 has the cool new reversible USB-C port. The handset also has a good ol’ 3.5mm headphone jack for your headphones, speakers and AUX cables.

But the new A3’s special ‘superpower’ is without a doubt its water proofing. The phone is officially IP68 certified, it’s one of the cheapest phones we’ve ever seen with this new feature. The IP68 rating means that the phone is tested and will withstand water damage when submerged as deep as 5 feet (1.5 meters) for up to 30 minutes. The benefits are clear: you don’t need to worry about getting your phone wet, you can take it for those summer pool-side parties and it will even survive the surprisingly common drop in the toilet.

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Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
5.33 x 2.61 x 0.31 inches
135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)
5.3 x 2.57 x 0.29 inches
134.5 x 65.2 x 7.3 mm
4.66 oz (132 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7
5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Apple iPhone 7

Apple iPhone SE
Apple iPhone SE
4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches
123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm
3.99 oz (113 g)

Apple iPhone SE




Display

A 4.7” Super AMOLED HD screen with surprisingly great colors and quality.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A3 (2017) features a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. And it’s a PenTile display as well, meaning that it has less color in every pixel than a regular RGB screen, so it’s not as sharp as one. Is this a big deal? Not really: this is definitely not the sharpest screen out there, and if you look up close you can see slightly jagged edges on some icons and most notable in text, but when using your phone regularly this is barely noticeable.

These days, it is not resolution and sharpness that lacks in phones, but good colors. That’s why we were pleasantly surprised to see the affordable Galaxy A3 sport some very good-looking colors. The screen itself is nicely smooth, so your finger glides effortlessly on the glass, and overall colors are well tuned to the sRGB color standard that is used universally for photos and videos. Whites are just a little bit on the blue side, and everything is just a bit brighter than ideal due to the lower gamma, but overall this screen is really great for a phone of this price class.

Samsung also allows users to change the color reproduction of the screen: go into Settings > Display > Screen Mode, and you get to choose from four different modes. The Adaptive mode brings color saturation up, making for more eye-popping, impressive visuals that are not that realistic, while Basic is the closest to industry accepted standard and we recommend using this mode.

The screen can also get very bright, so it’s easy to use the phone outdoors under the harsh sunlight. It can also neatly go down to just 1 nit (the lowest level we measure) at night, which makes it easier on the eyes and more pleasant to use. Samsung now includes the useful Blue light filter in the new A3. You can customize it to automatically start working at night and ensure that you have no blue light beaming at you and preventing your brain from making the chemicals needed for you to fall asleep.

The A3 also has ‘Always-on Display’ mode that shows you the time, date and the type of missed notifications even when your screen is locked (but not the actual notifications). The letters are well contrasted and easy to see, but be warned – this will have a noticeable impact on battery life.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 440
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6826
(Excellent)
2.01
2.4
(Good)
6.49
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) 481
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6679
(Excellent)
2.1
2.1
(Good)
5.65
(Average)
Apple iPhone 7 632
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:1254
(Excellent)
6692
(Excellent)
1.84
2.96
(Good)
5.44
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S7 484
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6852
(Excellent)
2.07
1.26
(Excellent)
2.09
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 556
(Excellent)
1.8
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6725
(Excellent)
2.02
2.37
(Good)
7.25
(Average)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

Introduction


For a third time in a row, Samsung starts the year by releasing three new mid-range phones of the Galaxy A series, and the 2017 edition of the lineup is the most impressive yet. Samsung has made three phones that have an exceptional look and feel, just like its most expensive phones, and the new Galaxy A3 (2017) is the most compact, the most affordable and the cutest of the three.

The new A3 (2017) is a 4.7-inch phone with a Super AMOLED display and a look nearly identical to that of the Galaxy S7 with the same stylish glass and metal construction, and even the same high water protection rating, a first in a phone in this price class.

Clearly, Samsung has taken some shortcuts: the new A3 uses a less powerful chip than the top dogs, features less storage and makes some other compromises, but can its low price make up for that? Let’s find out and take a deeper look.

In the box:

  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) model SM-A320F
  • User Manual
  • SIM ejector tool
  • USB-A to USB-C cable
  • White Samsung earbuds with replaceable rubber tips
  • Wall charger (7.75 watts peak, 5V and 1.55A)

Design

Designed to near perfection, with a curved glass back, metal frame and full-on water-protection.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A3 (2017) is as good as phones get in terms of looks. We have the beautiful, deep black glossy version up for review, a glass-and-metal construction that feels so solidly, so well put together, we’d forgive you if you mistake it for a much more expensive phone (it helps that it also looks almost exactly like the S7). With a slight curve on the back and a compact size, the new A3 feels extremely comfortable in the hand. It’s thinner than you’d expect and it’s nicely balanced, with some weight to it that prevents it from feeling too airy or hollow: it feels monolithic. Every little aspect of this phone feels thought out, and even the side buttons are made out of metal and have nice travel and feel.

The one practical downside of having a beautiful glass phone, however, is the way its back catches fingerprints with an incredible ease and quickly turns into a smudgy mess that you have to clean or protect with a case. This was very noticeable on the black version that we have for review, but it might not be so noticeable with other colors: Samsung is also offering the phone in Gold Sand, Blue Mist, and Peach Cloud.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

Another key feature of the A3 is its very compact physical size: it has a 4.7-inch display, but it also has very narrow side bezels, so overall the phone is actually even smaller than the already compact iPhone 7. It’s not quite iPhone SE like, but it is still definitely very comfortable for single-handed use.

We’re also glad to see that Samsung has finally done away with microUSB, and even this affordable new A3 has the cool new reversible USB-C port. The handset also has a good ol’ 3.5mm headphone jack for your headphones, speakers and AUX cables.

But the new A3’s special ‘superpower’ is without a doubt its water proofing. The phone is officially IP68 certified, it’s one of the cheapest phones we’ve ever seen with this new feature. The IP68 rating means that the phone is tested and will withstand water damage when submerged as deep as 5 feet (1.5 meters) for up to 30 minutes. The benefits are clear: you don’t need to worry about getting your phone wet, you can take it for those summer pool-side parties and it will even survive the surprisingly common drop in the toilet.


Front view | Side view
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
5.33 x 2.61 x 0.31 inches
135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)
5.3 x 2.57 x 0.29 inches
134.5 x 65.2 x 7.3 mm
4.66 oz (132 g)

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

Apple iPhone 7
Apple iPhone 7
5.44 x 2.64 x 0.28 inches
138.3 x 67.1 x 7.1 mm
4.87 oz (138 g)

Apple iPhone 7

Apple iPhone SE
Apple iPhone SE
4.87 x 2.31 x 0.3 inches
123.8 x 58.6 x 7.6 mm
3.99 oz (113 g)

Apple iPhone SE




Display

A 4.7” Super AMOLED HD screen with surprisingly great colors and quality.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A3 (2017) features a 4.7-inch Super AMOLED display with a resolution of 720 x 1280 pixels. And it’s a PenTile display as well, meaning that it has less color in every pixel than a regular RGB screen, so it’s not as sharp as one. Is this a big deal? Not really: this is definitely not the sharpest screen out there, and if you look up close you can see slightly jagged edges on some icons and most notable in text, but when using your phone regularly this is barely noticeable.

These days, it is not resolution and sharpness that lacks in phones, but good colors. That’s why we were pleasantly surprised to see the affordable Galaxy A3 sport some very good-looking colors. The screen itself is nicely smooth, so your finger glides effortlessly on the glass, and overall colors are well tuned to the sRGB color standard that is used universally for photos and videos. Whites are just a little bit on the blue side, and everything is just a bit brighter than ideal due to the lower gamma, but overall this screen is really great for a phone of this price class.

Samsung also allows users to change the color reproduction of the screen: go into Settings > Display > Screen Mode, and you get to choose from four different modes. The Adaptive mode brings color saturation up, making for more eye-popping, impressive visuals that are not that realistic, while Basic is the closest to industry accepted standard and we recommend using this mode.

The screen can also get very bright, so it’s easy to use the phone outdoors under the harsh sunlight. It can also neatly go down to just 1 nit (the lowest level we measure) at night, which makes it easier on the eyes and more pleasant to use. Samsung now includes the useful Blue light filter in the new A3. You can customize it to automatically start working at night and ensure that you have no blue light beaming at you and preventing your brain from making the chemicals needed for you to fall asleep.

The A3 also has ‘Always-on Display’ mode that shows you the time, date and the type of missed notifications even when your screen is locked (but not the actual notifications). The letters are well contrasted and easy to see, but be warned – this will have a noticeable impact on battery life.

Display measurements and quality

Maximum brightness (nits)Higher is better Minimum brightness (nits)Lower is better Contrast Higher is better Color temperature (Kelvins) Gamma Delta E rgbcmy Lower is better Delta E grayscale Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 440
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6826
(Excellent)
2.01
2.4
(Good)
6.49
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) 481
(Good)
1
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6679
(Excellent)
2.1
2.1
(Good)
5.65
(Average)
Apple iPhone 7 632
(Excellent)
2
(Excellent)
1:1254
(Excellent)
6692
(Excellent)
1.84
2.96
(Good)
5.44
(Average)
Samsung Galaxy S7 484
(Good)
2
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6852
(Excellent)
2.07
1.26
(Excellent)
2.09
(Good)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 556
(Excellent)
1.8
(Excellent)
unmeasurable
(Excellent)
6725
(Excellent)
2.02
2.37
(Good)
7.25
(Average)
View all

The CIE 1931 xy color gamut chart represents the set (area) of colors that a display can reproduce, with the sRGB colorspace (the highlighted triangle) serving as reference. The chart also provides a visual representation of a display's color accuracy. The small squares across the boundaries of the triangle are the reference points for the various colors, while the small dots are the actual measurements. Ideally, each dot should be positioned on top of its respective square. The 'x: CIE31' and 'y: CIE31' values in the table below the chart indicate the position of each measurement on the chart. 'Y' shows the luminance (in nits) of each measured color, while 'Target Y' is the desired luminance level for that color. Finally, 'ΔE 2000' is the Delta E value of the measured color. Delta E values of below 2 are ideal.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Color accuracy chart gives an idea of how close a display's measured colors are to their referential values. The first line holds the measured (actual) colors, while the second line holds the reference (target) colors. The closer the actual colors are to the target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

The Grayscale accuracy chart shows whether a display has a correct white balance (balance between red, green and blue) across different levels of grey (from dark to bright). The closer the Actual colors are to the Target ones, the better.

These measurements are made using SpectraCal's CalMAN calibration software.

View all


Interface and Functionality

The new Grace user interface is beautiful and functional, the best Samsung has done and one of the best of all Android phone makers.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

Samsung and Android have both undergone an astounding transformation: from the ugly kids we knew in early Android history, both companies have recently put design up-front, and the results finally show.

The A3 (2017) features Samsung’s new Grace user interface, a UI that now has much cleaner, tidier visuals, a much more coherent and well-thought out style. We did not think we’d ever say this, but Samsung’s new interface is excellent: the new UI is not only good-looking, it’s convenient. Samsung has polished its own apps: the mail, weather, calendar apps are some of the best first-party apps out there, they have modern look and are informative and easy to use.

The new notification drop down gets rid of useless toggles, but keeps the important ones. The new settings menu has useful cues and no longer feels chaotic, but is instead a tidy, well-organized list with an excellent search option. You can now also search for apps straight in the app drawer, and from there you can transfer the search directly to the Google Play store, so you don’t really need to keep an extra Play Store icon (something that has always been annoying). The new native device manager detects malicious and battery-hungry apps and helps you fix problems related to them.

Power user features like the Secure Folder that was first introduced with the Note 7 are also here. Secure Folder is just what it sounds like: a totally secure environment where you can have apps like your business email that you don’t want your kids accidentally messing with. Or a secret Tinder profile. Secure Folder can even run a separate Google account, which is impressive.

Despite its small size, the new A3 has an excellent keyboard. We could not find a way to turn on vibration feedback which is great on most other Samsung phones, but still this is one of the most accurate and fastest on-screen keyboards that we have ever used.

Still, the new A3 has one annoying problem that almost every Android phone that is not a flagship has: it runs older software and is terribly late to get updates (if it ever gets them). The one thing that has changed for the better is the security updates that are now sent to phones like the A3 (2017) on a regular monthly basis. For all else, though, software updates are still one area where Google and Samsung could and should do more.

Processor, Performance and Memory

A slower Exynos chip than the words ‘octa-core’ suggest, but still no lag in daily use and the low resolution allows playing games at decent framerates.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A3 (2017) uses a new affordable in-house chip from Samsung, the Exynos 7870 with 2GB of RAM. It’s a step down from the A5’s Exynos 7880, both are octa-core chips featuring eight Cortex A53 CPU cores, but the A3 is clocked at 1.6GHz, down from 1.9GHz on the A5.

So yes: this is by no means a powerhouse phone, but it’s important to know that its processor is built on a modern, 14nm manufacturing. This means that it is more power efficient than earlier phones, and can get the most out of its battery.

Performance? Well, it’s okay in daily use. Samsung has optimized the interface to run without much lag at all, but you do notice that apps take a bit longer to start up.

The low-screen resolution means that the new A3 can actually get better or similar gaming performance as the more expensive A5, but neither is a device made for more intense games. Those would be too challenging and are likely to run choppy.

Looking at benchmarks it becomes clear that the system chip is about on the same performance level as the MediaTek Helio P10 and it’s not as powerful as the Snapdragon 625 found on some devices in the same price class like the Huawei Nova.

The new A3 also has just 16 GB of on-board storage, of which only around 10 gigs are actually available to the end user. Thankfully, the phone supports microSD cards of up to 256 gigs, so we definitely recommend spending those extra $20 or so to get a 64GB card (or more if you need it). This will save you the trouble of running out of storage in important moments.

Performance benchmarks

AnTuTu
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 45938
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 60678
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 59664
Vellamo Metal
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 1143.33
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 1316
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 1327
Vellamo Browser
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 3071
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 3450
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 3500
JetStream
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 23.803
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 31.472
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 31.804
GFXBench T-Rex HD on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 19
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 33
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 33
GFXBench Manhattan on-screen
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 7.3
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 9
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 9
Basemark OS II
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 993
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 1432
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 435
Geekbench 4 single-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 674.33
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 766
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 764
Geekbench 4 multi-core
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 3224
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 3951
Samsung Galaxy A7 (2017) 3808
View all


Internet and Connectivity

Not sold officially in the United States, hence no support for 4G LTE U.S. bands. Does support 4G LTE on all major European carriers, though.

Just like you would expect, the Galaxy A3 (2017) supports 4G LTE connectivity for its target markets in Europe and across the globe.

Like the other A series, Samsung is not selling the Galaxy A3 (2017) in the United States, so it’s no surprise that it features no proper 4G LTE connectivity for most U.S. carriers. The model that we have (the SM-A320F), however, supports all needed 4G LTE bands for Europe: bands: 1, 2, 3, 5, 7, 8, 20 (in case you were wondering, the more expensive A5 model supports slightly more bands including bands 4, 17 and 28).

The A3 is a dual SIM phone: it has a hybrid SIM 1 + SIM 2 / microSD card slot, meaning that you can choose between either using it with a microSD card and one SIM card, or using it with two SIM cards, but no microSD card. It’s either two, though, you cannot have two SIM cards AND a microSD card inside.

There is support for dual-band Wi-Fi (a, b, g, n, ac), which has become an essential feature for city dwellers where network congestion on the primary 2.4GHz band makes your Internet slower. This issue is solved by using the second, 5GHz Wi-Fi channel.

You have NFC on board on the new A3 and it supports Samsung Pay for wireless payments. Other connectivity options include Bluetooth 4.2, USB Type-C, GPS and Glonass.

Camera

Captures lively colors that look great in daylight, but video has no notable stabilization and images often turn out a bit blurry in dim light.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Camera interface - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Camera interface - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

Camera interface


The Galaxy A3 (2017) sports a 13-megapixel, f/1.9 camera on the back and an 8MP camera up front. The main camera has a single LED flash and an f/1.9 lens, but lacks any form of stabilization, and there is no support for 4K video.

First, let’s say that the new camera app on this phone is great. Double click the home button and you quickly get straight in the camera app, this is the fastest and most convenient way to start the camera on your phone. The A3 features Samsung’s new camera app: it is cleaned up of clutter, unnecessary options are moved out of the main screen, leaving only the shutter button, a video recording button, a shortcut to the gallery, the flash controls, settings and the switch button for the front camera. Those who want things like ISO and white balance controls, swipe left and select the Pro camera mode, where you have all those manual controls. A swipe right also reveals an HDR mode, Panorama mode, and others that you can tinker with. A swipe right brings you to different filters that change the colors and style of your pictures.

Image Quality


The A3 (2017) shoots images that look very good and above the average for this class. Photos come up with lively colors and the sharp look of the pictures (they are not oversharpened as on the S7). The camera takes longer to lock the focus, so it’s not great for shooting moving objects, but for all else it does a very good job. Highly dynamic scenes usually have their highlights badly burned, and the HDR mode does not turn on automatically, but we do recommend using it. The HDR effect definitely improves the quality, even though it’s not among the most subtle ones.

There is also a panorama mode that is able to stitch pictures fairly well and capture some good-looking panoramas.

In low light, the performance is definitely not that good: details become very smudgy and the sharpness of images is gone. The built-in single LED flash is strong, but completely ruins the colors of a picture, adding a nasty cold, green-ish cast to images.

When it comes to the front camera, it takes very wide pictures, more suitable for a group of people than for a single person. The quality of your selfies with this is not good at all: detail is lacking and skin tones (even with the mostly annoying beauty effect off) turn out smudgy, one like big stainy mess.


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Camera speed

Taking a pic (sec)Lower is better Taking an HDR pic (sec)Lower is better CamSpeed score Higher is better CamSpeed score with flash Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 2
2.7
365
210
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) 2.9
4.3
601
368
Apple iPhone 7 1.13
1.49
No data
No data
Samsung Galaxy S7 1.5
1.6
315
281
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 1.8
2.9
No data
No data
View all

Video quality


The A3 (2017) can shoot video at a maximum of 1080p at 30 fps (there is no 4K video support). The lack of 4K is expected in this price category, but we have seen phones like the Huawei Nova already support it, so Samsung is behind the curve a bit here. Luckily, it captures mostly good-looking 1080p footage with lively colors, a sharp look and pleasant dynamics. Not so luckily, the camera seems to completely lack video stabilization, which often ruins your video efforts. Even the slightest movement during video recording turns your footage into a jittery, headache-inducing mess. This is bad: introducing better stabilization on this phone is our number one request.

Sound quality


Hey, look at that speaker on the side! It’s tiny, it’s in a weird position, so let us tell you about it. The A series are the first phones in the world to have the speaker on the top right, but this decision is practical: it makes it very hard to mute the speaker accidentally.

The audio quality out of this speaker surprises. We did not expect too much and it does not deliver excellence, but sound through this speaker is decent and sufficiently loud.

Audio output

Headphones output power (Volts)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 0.52
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) 0.54
Apple iPhone 7 0.991
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.704
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 0.53
Loudspeaker loudness (dB)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 77
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) 69
Apple iPhone 7 78.1
Samsung Galaxy S7 72.7
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 75
View all


Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
Call Quality

We had no issues with call quality on the new A3.

We can hear our callers loud and clear via the earpiece, and it was easy to make out the natural tonality of the voices of our callers, while on the other end of the line we had a similarly positive experience with no complaints about volume levels or clarity.

Battery life


The new Galaxy A3 (2017) features a relatively small, 2,350 mAh battery, but let’s not forget that this battery works alongside an economical processor and a 720p display.

We don’t know how Samsung does it: but the new A3 delivers, just like the rest of the new A series. It has a tremendous battery life.

In our custom battery test, where we put all phones on equal grounds by making sure the same connectivity options are enabled on all and that the display is set at the same brightness level, we broke the 11-hour mark, while popular (and much more expensive) phones like the Galaxy S7, Google Pixel and iPhone 7 averaged only around 7 hours on the same test.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

In real-life, we are getting two days on a single charge easily, but this is possible only if you turn off the Always-on Display feature that drains approximately 1% battery every hour, depending on how you're using your phone.

Samsung does not include its excellent Adaptive Fast Charge wall adapter with the new A3, but the phone has also got a relatively small battery. The end result is that the phone charges in under 2 hours, slower than the fastest charging phones like the OnePlus 3T and the Galaxy S7, but still faster than the Google Pixel that supports quick charging. There is no support for wireless charging on the phone.

Battery Benchmarks

Battery life (hours)
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 11h 4 min (Excellent)
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) 10h 8 min (Excellent)
Apple iPhone 7 7h 46 min (Good)
Samsung Galaxy S7 6h 37 min (Average)
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 11h 9 min (Excellent)
Charging time (minutes)
Lower is better
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 112
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) 112
Apple iPhone 7 141
Samsung Galaxy S7 88
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) 91
View all

Conclusion


Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review

The Galaxy A3 (2017) is such an exciting phone: it brings a level of sophistication in design and interface that we have not yet seen on affordable phones. Neither have we seen a phone with water resistance.

Samsung knows this and this year’s Galaxy A3 is slightly more expensive than the starting price of last year’s model: it starts at €330, up from the €300 launch price last year.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Review
It’s not a phone without its flaws, though, so let’s list them all here: it’s a bit slow when compared to a flagship phone. There is a moment between hitting an app icon and the actual app starting, and while this is not a big deal, it is there and it is noticeable. It also does not have video stabilization, so videos do turn out very shaky and jittery. And yes, 16GB of on-board storage is too little these days and a 720p display is not perfectly sharp (but we could hardly tell any difference in real use).

But these flaws pale in comparison with all the great things going for the new A3: its brilliant design is something that you will enjoy every single day of using it, its vibrant display makes images come to life, the new Samsung Grace interface is rich in options in a way that still feels organized and not overwhelming, its battery life is excellent and we get two days on average even with heavier use (but we do turn off the Always-on display option). And this phone captures very good looking images.

Your alternatives?

The Honor 8 is a slightly larger, 5.2-inch phone that is equally beautiful and stylish, running on a slightly more powerful system chip and capturing similarly nice photos and videos, and it has the good battery life, but its interface is nowhere near as refined, even with the recent Nougat update.

The iPhone SE is clearly another option to consider: Apple’s tiny 4-inch iPhone is plenty more powerful, has iOS that gets the best games first and that will get updated regularly, and beats the new A3 in the camera department with its excellent photo quality and 4K video recording option, but it’s also considerably more expensive at $400 / €400.

The upcoming Moto G5 and Moto G5 Plus are two cheaper, yet excellent options: they are not as well made, nor do they have water resistance (they are only splash proof), but they run on the newest Android with a clean build and feature very fast and capable cameras.

At the end of the day, all things considered, the Galaxy A3 (2017) is a winner with a lot of great things going for it. It’s an even better deal than the new A5, and despite all its shortcomings, it ends up being a great device that we can whole-heartedly recommend.