Introduction

The Samsung Galaxy A3 is the junior member of the company's new metal-clad lineup. The least likely one to challenge the Alpha-dog but just as slim and sharp as the rest of its Galaxy A teammates.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Samsung Galaxy A3 official photos

And it's not all about the looks - with LTE and Super AMOLED available across the range, the Samsung Galaxy A3 has the same 64-bit chipset as the A5 and the same high-res front camera as the A7. Most of the other specs are of course duly toned down but the A3 is a pretty credible midrange package on its own.

It comes in single and dual-SIM flavors, which is a popular combo in the midrange - but does well to offer cat. 4 LTE on both.

The high-resolution selfie camera is still quite a novelty for Samsung - the A3 is among the few very recent phones to have one.

A Super AMOLED screen of qHD resolution and a 4.5" diagonal and a Snapdragon 410 chipset under the hood are looking competitive enough.

So far so good. Samsung needs a strong start into 2015 after ending 2014 on a low note.

The Alpha bloodline will be Samsung's trump card in the midrange and the Galaxy A3 will soon be joined by its bigger, better-equipped siblings.

But here and now, the Galaxy A3 will be keen to prove it has enough to offer.

Key features

  • Distinct Dual-SIM model (1GB RAM) and LTE model (1.5GB RAM, NFC, Cat. 4 LTE) available
  • 4.5" qHD Super AMOLED touchscreen, 245ppi, with ambient light sensor
  • Android 4.4.4 KitKat with TouchWiz
  • Snapdragon 410 chipset, quad-core 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53, Adreno 306 GPU
  • 8MP auto-focus camera, LED flash
  • 5MP front-facing camera with 1080p@30fps video recording
  • 16GB storage, microSD card slot (up to 64GB)
  • Wi-Fi b/g/n; Bluetooth 4.0; ANT+; GPS/GLONASS receiver
  • Active noise cancellation via a dedicated mic
  • 1,900mAh Li-Ion non-removable battery
  • Slim bezels and great screen-to-body ratio

Main disadvantages

  • On the pricey side at launch
  • Relatively low resolution display
  • Non-removable battery
  • Dual SIM model has less RAM than the single-SIM model and no NFC
  • The second SIM slot on the Dual SIM model doubles as a microSD slot, so you can only use it with a SIM card or a microSD card, but not both simultaneously

Where the Galaxy A3 comes short is display resolution. However, the Super AMOLED display should make up for the relatively low fidelity with great contrast and punchy colors.

The Snapdragon 410 chip, which isn't going to break the sound barrier, but is of the new 64-bit generation and won't be dealing with too much stress considering the screen resolution. It packs enough oomph for a midranger and things will only get better when Samsung are done with the Android 5.0 Lollipop update.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3 in person

Ready when you're. Let's proceed with our usual routine. Coming up, unboxing and design.

Unboxing

You can sense the change of Samsung's mobile game in the packaging of the Galaxy A3. It sports a lighter and cleaner design, which impresses at first sight.

Inside, we the usual array of accessories - headphones, microUSB cable, wall charger and a pin for the SIM card and microSD card trays.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Standard unboxing affair

Samsung Galaxy A3 360-degree spin

The Galaxy A3 measures 130 x 65.5 x 6.9mm and weighs just 110 g. It's compact and light weight, yet sturdy due to its aluminum frame.

Design and build quality

This change in the design concept is exactly what Samsung needed to stay on top of the smartphone market.

Happily, the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4 aren't concept devices and have inspired the mid-range line-up of the company as well as the high-end.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3 is stunning to look at

It all starts off with that aluminum metal frame. It sets the tone for the entire smartphone and keeps the thin profile in check.

The Galaxy A3 is one of the thinnest smartphones Samsung has ever made, next to the Galaxy A7, which measures just 6.3mm. In our office, the Galaxy A3 is joined by the Galaxy A5 and you should check them out posing side by side.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 side by side

The metal work doesn't stop with the frame, as there's metal as trim to the camera lens, the loudspeaker, the power key and volume rocker. Even the parts that are plastic are very premium quality. The back cover for instance, albeit non-removable, has a smooth surface, which glistens as light fall on it. In fact this finish reminds us of how a pearl would glisten under light. The impression is so strong that it adds a sort of a feminine feel to the white smartphone.

Unlike the Galaxy Alpha, the Galaxy A3 doesn't offer a finger-print sensor under the Home button, nor is there a heart-rate monitor on the back. The Galaxy Alpha however lacks a microSD slot.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3 and Galaxy Alpha side by side

We are impressed by the tactile feel of the home and power/lock buttons as well as the volume rocker. A small caveat is that the latter two are a bit narrow and thus harder to press.

That aside, handling the Galaxy A3 is a real pleasure - the _phone_ is impressively thin and light, the build quality is great and the matte rear cover provides a solid grip. The Galaxy A3 would easily fit even in a tight shirt pocket and it's so light that you may altogether forget that it's there.

Controls

Above the display we find an earpiece, the usual bunch of sensors and a high-resolution 5MP selfie snapper.

There is nothing unusual below the screen either. A hardware Home key is flanked by a touch-sensitive App switcher key and a Back key.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Samsung keeps the classic front layout intact

The metal sides of the _phone_ host a single hardware control each - the Power button on the right and the Volume rocker on the left. Both are made of metal, but as we mentioned their slimness is a bit of an issue.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The hardware controls: the volume rocker on the right and the power/lock key in the left

The microSD and nanoSIM trays are on the right-hand side, easily ejectable with the provided metal pin. In contrast, the original Galaxy Alpha smartphone didn't offer a microSD storage expansion, but it did allow you to access and remove the battery.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The microSD card and SIM card slot trays

The top of the phone features only the secondary microphone, which is used for ambient noise cancellation in calls.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The top of the phone is almost bare

The bottom is more crowded, accommodating the exposed 3.5mm audio jack, the microUSB port and the primary mic pinhole.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The bottom of the Galaxy A3

The 8MP camera is on the back, accompanied by a rather big LED flash. The camera itself protrudes slightly from the back of the phone, extending past the quoted 6.9mm of thickness. The snapper is also capable of recording 1080p videos.

Out of reach, below the back panel, is hidden a 1,900mAh battery. Unfortunately, it's not user accessible.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3 held in hand

Overall, we are pleased with the build quality and the way the Galaxy A3 feels in hand. Samsung did a splendid job here and its effort is showing through and through.

The only real drawbacks are the the non-removable battery and the fact that on the Dual SIM version you have to choose whether you would use the secondary slot for a microSD card or for a second SIM card - you can't enjoy both. Other than that, the Galaxy A3 a solid piece of kit and we're glad to see Samsung expand this design language across more affordable phones than the Galaxy Alpha.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy A3 features a 4.5" Super AMOLED panel of qHD resolution, which works out to 245ppi. We do understand that this is a mid-range offering, but qHD feels dated even for this segment. An HD resolution display would've been more fitting for this little jewel.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3's 4.5" Super AMOLED display

Additionally, Samsung didn't opt-in for a Gorilla Glass layer of protection for the Galaxy A3's display. Viewing angles are good, though not ideal as there's some color shift and loss in contrast.

The SuperAMOLED screen on the Galaxy A3 makes use of an RGB pixel arrangement, which features a green and red subpixel plus a taller, but thinner blue subpixel. it's the same pixel arrangement that we saw on the Galaxy Note II N7100 back in 2012. The reason for the different Blue pixel size is that the blue subpixels on AMOLEDs typically have a shorter life and making them bigger balances things out. Being bigger, the blue pixel doesn't need to emit as much light to match the other two, which helps it last longer without affecting color balance.

Samsung Galaxy A3 display

Since this is a Super AMOLED display and the black pixels aren't lid, the contrast is stellar. Brightness is also good for such a panel, but still can't beat an IPS display.

Display test 50% brightness 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy A3 243 470
HTC Desire 510 0.17 204 1226 0.31 354 1159
HTC One mini 2 0.19 220 1141 0.42 501 1196
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact - - - 0.34 626 1819
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua 0.26 247 960 0.44 531 1094
Motorola Moto G 0.35 315 906 0.57 550 967
Nokia Lumia 735 258 363


The Galaxy A3 surprised us in the sunlight legibility test, where it scored higher than the Galaxy Note 3 and placed itself second below the Nokia PureView 808.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Nokia 808 PureView
    4.698
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4
    4.033
  • Apple iPhone 5
    3.997
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3
    3.997
  • Apple iPhone 6
    3.838
  • Samsung Galaxy Note Edge
    3.799
  • Oppo R5
    3.678
  • Samsung Galaxy K zoom
    3.675
  • Nokia Lumia 930
    3.567
  • Apple iPhone 5s
    3.565
  • Samsung Galaxy S5
    3.549
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    3.547
  • Alcatel Idol X+
    3.527
  • Apple iPhone 5c
    3.512
  • Samsung Galaxy Alpha
    3.509
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 3 Neo
    3.487
  • Motorola RAZR MAXX
    3.42
  • Samsung I9300 Galaxy S III
    3.419
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 Active
    3.406
  • Nokia Lumia 925
    3.402
  • Gionee Elife S5.5
    3.386
  • Samsung I9505 Galaxy S4
    3.352
  • Samsung Omnia W
    3.301
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 mini
    3.174
  • Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
    3.155
  • Samsung Ativ S
    3.129
  • Samsung I9190 Galaxy S4 mini
    3.127
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 zoom
    3.118
  • Nokia N9
    3.069
  • Apple iPhone 6 Plus
    3.023
  • Samsung Galaxy Note
    2.97
  • Samsung Galaxy Premier
    2.958
  • Sony Xperia Z1
    2.95
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Samsung I8730 Galaxy Express
    2.861
  • BlackBerry Q10
    2.856
  • Samsung I9100 Galaxy S II
    2.832
  • HTC Desire Eye
    2.815
  • Gionee Elife S5.1
    2.812
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Plus
    2.801
  • BlackBerry Z30
    2.79
  • Meizu MX4 Pro
    2.765
  • Sony Xperia ZR
    2.672
  • Huawei Ascend P1
    2.655
  • Sony Xperia Z3
    2.618
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
    2.616
  • Sony Xperia T3
    2.609
  • BlackBerry Passport
    2.595
  • Nokia Lumia 900
    2.562
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    2.546
  • HTC One Max
    2.537
  • Nokia Lumia 720
    2.512
  • HTC One
    2.504
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Xiaomi Mi 4
    2.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S III mini
    2.422
  • Lenovo Vibe Z2 Pro
    2.416
  • LG G Flex
    2.407
  • HTC Desire 820
    2.372
  • HTC One (M8)
    2.371
  • Motorola RAZR i
    2.366
  • Meizu MX4
    2.366
  • Sony Xperia ZL
    2.352
  • Samsung Galaxy Note II
    2.307
  • HTC One (M8) for Windows
    2.291
  • Oppo Find 7a
    2.279
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • HTC Desire 600 dual sim
    2.262
  • Nokia Asha 311
    2.25
  • LG Nexus 5
    2.228
  • Nokia Lumia 820
    2.193
  • HTC One (E8)
    2.185
  • Oppo N3
    2.181
  • Nokia Lumia 920
    2.17
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Nokia N8
    2.144
  • Nokia Lumia 620
    2.142
  • Nokia 515
    2.134
  • HTC Desire 500
    2.129
  • Sony Xperia C3 Dual
    2.12
  • Sony Xperia acro S
    2.119
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Nokia Lumia 1020
    2.103
  • Oppo Find 5
    2.088
  • Sony Xperia SL
    2.078
  • Nokia Lumia 630
    2.056
  • BlackBerry Z10
    2.051
  • Huawei Ascend Mate7
    2.024
  • Samsung I9295 Galaxy S4 Active
    2.022
  • Apple iPhone 4
    2.016
  • HTC One mini
    2.003
  • Xiaomi Mi 3
    2.001
  • Huawei Ascend P7
    1.992
  • LG G2
    1.976
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Oppo R819
    1.957
  • Sony Ericsson Xperia ray
    1.955
  • Lenovo Vibe X2
    1.952
  • Sony Xperia Z2
    1.944
  • Sony Xperia E3
    1.943
  • Nokia Lumia 1320
    1.941
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.94
  • Samsung Galaxy Camera
    1.938
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Prime
    1.935
  • Sony Xperia J
    1.932
  • Acer CloudMobile S500
    1.931
  • LG Nexus 4
    1.926
  • LG G Pro 2
    1.922
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 6.3
    1.913
  • Nokia Asha 308
    1.911
  • HTC Butterfly 2
    1.905
  • Sony Xperia T
    1.894
  • Nokia Lumia 830
    1.887
  • HTC Desire X
    1.878
  • HTC Butterfly
    1.873
  • HTC Windows phone 8X
    1.873
  • HTC Butterfly S
    1.867
  • Huawei Ascend P6
    1.865
  • Huawei Ascend Mate
    1.845
  • LG G2 mini
    1.838
  • LG G3
    1.82
  • Nokia Lumia 1520
    1.813
  • HTC Desire 616 dual sim
    1.797
  • Sony Xperia V
    1.792
  • HTC Desire 816
    1.783
  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    1.772
  • HTC Desire 700 dual sim
    1.769
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Meizu MX3
    1.754
  • LG Optimus G
    1.753
  • Sony Xperia T2 Ultra
    1.74
  • Sony Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact
    1.735
  • Sony Xperia SP
    1.733
  • LG Optimus 4X HD
    1.691
  • Oppo Find 7
    1.691
  • HTC One V
    1.685
  • BlackBerry Q5
    1.682
  • LG Optimus Vu
    1.68
  • Xiaomi Mi Pad 7.9
    1.672
  • LG Optimus GJ
    1.666
  • LG Optimus 3D Max
    1.658
  • HTC Desire V
    1.646
  • Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2
    1.632
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 3
    1.622
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Sony Xperia Z Ultra
    1.578
  • Sony Xperia go
    1.577
  • Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160
    1.566
  • Samsung Galaxy Core
    1.563
  • LG Optimus G Pro
    1.552
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • LG Optimus 3D
    1.542
  • Nokia Asha 302
    1.537
  • Samsung Galaxy Core Prime
    1.507
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320
    1.488
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • Oppo N1
    1.47
  • Meizu MX 4-core
    1.462
  • Nokia Lumia 610
    1.432
  • Samsung Galaxy S Duos
    1.4
  • Sony Xperia M2
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo
    1.393
  • Microsoft Lumia 535
    1.393
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand 2
    1.38
  • Sony Xperia E1
    1.372
  • Nokia Lumia 625
    1.371
  • Gigabyte GSmart G1355
    1.361
  • Sony Xperia L
    1.351
  • Samsung Galaxy Mega 5.8
    1.35
  • Xiaomi Redmi 1S
    1.35
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.331
  • Sony Xperia miro
    1.324
  • Samsung I9082 Galaxy Grand
    1.321
  • Samsung I8530 Galaxy Beam
    1.315
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Nokia X
    1.291
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Nokia Asha 503
    1.281
  • Nokia Asha 501
    1.27
  • LG Optimus L7
    1.269
  • Nokia Lumia 510
    1.268
  • Samsung Galaxy Fame
    1.245
  • LG Optimus L9
    1.227
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Samsung Galaxy Young
    1.22
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215
  • Nokia XL
    1.204
  • Sony Xperia E dual
    1.203
  • Asus Memo Pad 7 ME176C
    1.198
  • Samsung Galaxy Pocket
    1.18
  • Nokia Asha 305
    1.178
  • Nokia Asha 306
    1.175
  • Sony Xperia neo L
    1.169
  • Sony Xperia tipo
    1.166
  • Nokia Lumia 520
    1.161
  • Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
    1.148
  • Samsung Galaxy mini 2
    1.114

Battery life

The Galaxy A3 counts on a 1,900mAh Li-Ion battery and by the company's estimates it can carry the phone through 11 hours of video playback and 13 hours of talk time. The Super AMOLED screen will take its tow in the web browsing test, as it's based on predominantly light colors.

The Galaxy A3 scored 65 hours in single-SIM configuration, which is quite good considering the relatively small capacity of the battery.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

With both SIM cards in, the standby battery life took a hit. Below you will see the battery test scorecard for this particular scenario.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Make note that our proprietary score includes a standby battery draw test, which is not featured in our battery test scorecard but is calculated in the total endurance rating. Our battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you want to learn more about it.

Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy A3 comes loaded with wireless connectivity features. The LTE model starts with LTE Cat. 4 (up to 150Mpbs down, 50Mbps up), while regular 2G and 3G connectivity is, of course, supported, too. The Duos version doesn't come with LTE, though.

Local connectivity includes Wi-Fi b/g/n and Wi-Fi Hotspot capabilities. There is no dual-band support, unfortunately.

There is also support for Bluetooth 4.0 LE and ANT+, the latter allowing for easier connection to certain wireless sports accessories.

NFC rounds off the wireless connectivity section.

The Galaxy A3 relies on a standard microUSB 2.0 port for charging and wired data connectivity.

What we do miss here is a wired TV-out option either via MHL or SlimPort.

The Samsung Galaxy A3 also has a dual-SIM version, which comes with a number of limitations compared to the standard LTE version. For one, it only has 1GB RAM (as opposed to 1.5GB).

Then, you have to pick whether you want to use its secondary SIM slot as a microSD slot or as a SIM slot - you can't have both.

And finally, the Dual SIM version of the Galaxy A3 doesn't have LTE connectivity or NFC.

User interface

The Samsung Galaxy A3 runs on the latest available Android 4.4.4 KitKat enhanced with the TouchWiz UI. It's almost the same version that powers the Galaxy Alpha but with the fresh twist of supporting themes for the first time in the Galaxy lineup.

Here's a video we've prepared to give you a taste of what it's like.

Starting with the lockscreen, it's the regular Samsung affair, complete with the bubbly sounds on the lockscreen. You can check the date and time as well as quickly access the camera via the shortcut on the bottom right.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The lockscreen

The homescreen is also basic TouchWiz, with a 4 icon dock on the bottom and no Briefing/My Magazine pane. You can have up to 5 homescreens, panes can reordered and one is set as default.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The regular homescreens • Choosing a theme

The notification area is again, like what you may have seen on any other Galaxy smartphone in the past, but it too has seen some of its functionality missing. The Quick Connect and S Finder shortcuts won't be missed but there's no shortcut to open all toggles, even a two-finger swipe doesn't work. This means you have to swipe the row of toggles until you find the one you need. At least there's still a way to reorder the toggles.

Anyway, below the quick toggles is a brightness slider and below that the notifications. The brightness slider can be disabled.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Notification area

The settings menu is a vertical list of apps divided into categories. The handy search function is gone, which can slow down inexperienced users until they learn where each setting goes.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Settings menu

In the app drawer, icons are presented as a customizable or alphabetized grid. You can also view only the ones you've downloaded yourself or just hide the ones you don't need. You can also disable some of the pre-installed apps so they won't take any RAM.

The Galaxy A3 has an App Switcher button that calls up a custom switcher UI. As usual, you can go into the task manager for more advanced controls or just hit the Close all button.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The app switcher and task manager

TouchWiz had become a leviathan through years of feature bloat, full of clever-sounding features of questionable usefulness. Recently Samsung took a hatchet to its Android skin and really trimmed down the cruft. The Galaxy Note 4 and Edge are running some of the best mobile software, even if we still have some complaints about cosmetics.

The Samsung Galaxy A3 software is even more simplified and we actually miss some of the functionality - things like the customizable quick toggles or the motion gestures were handy tools. After going through the pre-installed apps, we found that plenty have been cut in favor of AOSP/Google alternatives.

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy A3 is utilizing the next-generation of mid-range chipsets with a 64-bit processor - the Snapdragon 410. The new chip offers a snappy quad-core Cortex-A53 CPU running at 1.2GHz. It also sports an Adreno 306 GPU and 1GB of RAM. The single-SIM version of the phone features 1.5GB of RAM.

Snapdragon 400 was one of the most popular chipsets for mid-range offerings and it's interesting to see how much faster its successor moves about. Before we begin, it's worth noting that our anti-cheat benchmarks detected no foul play.

Onto the benchmarks, then, starting with Geekbench 3, which gauges the CPU performance. The four Cortex-A53 cores at 1.2GHz provide a 25% boost in speed compared to the Cortex-A7 running at the same frequency in the Snapdragon 400.

The Galaxy A3 scores similarly to the HTC Desire 510, which too utilizes the Snapdragon 410 chipset, but falls behind the Xperia Z1 Compact and the HTC One Mini 2.

GeekBench 3

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    2968
  • HTC One mini 2
    1526
  • HTC Desire 510
    1471
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    1400
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    1175
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1106

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 510
    20756
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    20024
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    19016
  • HTC One mini 2
    18641

AnTuTu 5 is a compound test taking in consideration the on-screen GPU performance and the storage speed as well. The Galaxy A3 beats the Snapdragon 400 competition and again scores similarly to the Desire 510.

AnTuTu 5

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 510
    20756
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    20024
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    19016
  • HTC One mini 2
    18641

The cross-platform BaseMark OS II tests even more - it adds the browsing performance to the already lengthy performance equation. Here, the Galaxy A3 aces the test beating the One mini 2 and Sony Xperia M2 Aqua.

Basemark OS II

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    556
  • HTC One mini 2
    517
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    495
  • HTC Desire 510
    491
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    452
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    435

Unfortunately the raw performance of the Adreno 306 turned out mostly the same as its Adreno 305 predecessor judging by the offscreen tests.

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    22
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    6
  • HTC One mini 2
    5.8
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    5.8
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    5.3
  • HTC Desire 510
    5.3

GFX 2.7 T-Rex (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    34
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    15.5
  • HTC Desire 510
    15.5
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    13
  • HTC One mini 2
    11
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    10.8

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (1080p offscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    9
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    1.8
  • HTC Desire 510
    1.8
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    1.7
  • HTC One mini 2
    1.7
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    1.7

GFX 3.0 Manhattan (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
    17
  • HTC Desire 510
    8.3
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    6.9
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    6.4
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    4
  • HTC One mini 2
    3.8

The GPU intensive BaseMark X came up with a promising score for the Adreno 306. The Galaxy A3 manages to beat the Snapdragon 400-powered One Mini 2.

Basemark X

Higher is better

  • HTC Desire 510
    1906
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    1895
  • HTC One mini 2
    1650

Finally we've checked the Samsung Galaxy A3 web browser performance. The default Samsung browsing app didn't perform as good as the Desire 510 or the Moto G in both Kraken and Browsermark. We'd advise switching to a third-party browser to get better results out of the hardware.

Kraken 1.1

Lower is better

  • HTC Desire 510
    14171
  • HTC One mini 2
    15684
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    16118
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    16129
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    18323
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    26913

BrowserMark 2.1

Higher is better

  • HTC One mini 2
    945
  • Motorola Moto G 4G
    911
  • Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
    883
  • HTC Desire 510
    832
  • Nokia Lumia 735
    625
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    465

Other than the subpar web browsing performance, the Galaxy A3 and the Snapdragon 410 inside it deliver great performance. Tapping around the user interface is fast and seamless. On top of that, the Galaxy A3 is ready for the next-gen 64-bit Android apps and we're sure that once Android 5.0 Lollipop arrives for the phone, the phone will fly thanks to the new ART runtime.

Telephony and phonebook

The Samsung Galaxy A3 held onto signal well and we liked its sound quality and volume during calls. The active noise reduction during calls kept background noise under control and voice is heard clearly.

The dialer is the familiar TouchWiz app and features all the basics - smart dial, quick dial and even a video call button.

The list of contacts is displayed alphabetically and there's an alphabet scroll and a search field. Your contacts automatically get synced with your Google account and your social networks.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Contacts

The dialer is part of a tabbed app that also houses the Logs. Those are very detailed and show not only calls, but messages too and you can filter by various types of events (missed call, received message, etc.). There's even a search feature if you need to look up calls from just one number or contact.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Dialer

We performed our loudspeaker test on the Samsung Galaxy A3 and it managed an Average score. The Moto G and HTC One Mini 2 are considerably louder, though.

Speakerphone test Voice, dB Pink noise/ Music, dB Ringing phone, dB Overall score
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact 60.9 66.6 58.7 Below Average
HTC Desire 510 63.9 61.7 66.6 Below Average
Samsung Galaxy A3 65.2 66.3 76 Average
HTC One mini 2 69.3 66.6 75.9 Good
Motorola Moto G 4G 77.1 76 83.3 Excellent


You can find out more about our loudspeaker test here.

Messaging, email and text input

The Messages app has a row of shortcuts for the contacts you message most often and below that is the list of all conversation threads. Threads feels like a standard IM app and you can customize font size, the shape of the bubbles and the background. This app handles both SMS and MMS and features a wide variety of smilies.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Messages

The Messages app has some cool features too - you can delay dispatch by 3 seconds (or up to 30), so you can cancel a message before it goes out. You can also schedule messages to be sent automatically (say, congratulations for a birthday).

ChatON doesn't come preinstalled on the Samsung Galaxy A3.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Messages customization

The app also features spam protection - messages from specific numbers or containing specific phrases can be blocked. Safe mode will disable the feature that automatically makes links clickable and will scan them for potential threats.

The Galaxy A3 comes with two familiar email applications out of the box - one for your Gmail and a generic app to use with any POP3/IMAP account.

The generic app handles multiple accounts from any email server and features a combined inbox. It has a spam filter and Delayed send options similar to those in the text message app. It has a Primary Senders inbox just like Gmail too.

Gmail is smart about categorizing messages and grouping them - e.g. all promotions go in a folder, all social network messages in another and so on, keeping the Primary folder clean and containing only the important stuff. The Gmail app can handle multiple Gmail accounts, but doesn't offer a combined inbox.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Gmail

The Samsung keyboard offers a dedicated row of numbers, which is very handy. You can enter text by swipe-typing (like Swype and others), move the cursor or view all alternative symbols for a key (depending on whether you use non-dictionary words or special symbols a lot).

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Samsung keyboard

A basic, straightforward gallery

To go with the rest of the software, the gallery is really simplified compared to what top of the line Galaxies are getting. Photos and videos can be filtered by album (that is by folder) or by location. A panel on the left can be used to switch between the different albums.

That panel can be hidden with a swipe to make more room for the images. The pinch gesture that resizes the thumbnails is not available here. Support for online galleries is also gone.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Gallery • filtering options • viewing and editing images

Photo editing is supported though our unit did not have the app installed out of the box. It's a free download and supports the usual crop, rotate, color adjust options plus face enhancement, free hand drawing and some stickers and photo frames.

Only Google Play Music out of the box

The discount TouchWiz theme continues with the music player - the Samsung one is gone and there's only Google Play Music out of the box. It's a lovely player with Material Design that fully supports offline play of your tracks, but also handles unlimited music streaming (if those are supported in your country).

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Google Play Music

Streaming music can be cached to ensure a seamless playback and can be limited to Wi-Fi only (to reduce data charges). For mixes, you have the option to block "explicit" songs.

A 5-band equalizer is available in the settings with a bass boost slider (available for headphones only) and a surround sound slider. While headphones are plugged in, a special row of shortcuts shows up in the notification area.

Play Music puts playback controls on the lockscreen and replaces your wallpaper with the album art of the track.

FM Radio with recording

An FM radio with RDS support is available, even though Galaxy flagships usually skip it. Audio can be played through the loudspeaker (but the headphones have to remain attached).

A rare function is broadcast recording, you can even hit pause in the middle of recording. Note that this feature might not be available in all regions.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Listening to the radio • recording

Simple video player

A Samsung video player is pre-installed and it actually has a good set of features. It plays FullHD videos - in MKV, MP4 and MOV - containers with support for h.264. As usual audio works as long as you stick to the basics (MP3 and AAC).

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

A simple video player

Subtitles are supported and you can adjust font size and color, add an optional background and a few other tweaks. There's no DLNA support or wired TV out, leaving Miracast as your only way to put a video on a largeer screen.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Subtitle settings and video player options

Audio output is great, not quite the best

The Samsung Galaxy A3 did very well in our audio quality test, despite its low standing within the A family and Samsung's lineup in general.

The smartphone had perfectly clean output when connected to an active external amplifier and well above average volume levels for one of the better performances in this scenario out there.

Plug in a pair of headphones and some stereo crosstalk and intermodulation distortion creep in. Neither is too much though and doesn't take almost anything away from the sonic experience. The volume levels stay high too, so it's a very solid overall performance.

It's worth pointing out though, that the Galaxy A3 has the bad luck of facing the HTC One mini 2 in its price range so it's not quite the best your money can get in terms of audio output. It does hold its ground perfectly well against all the others though.

And here go the results so you can see for yourselves.

Test Frequency response Noise level Dynamic range THD IMD + Noise Stereo crosstalk
Samsung Galaxy A3 +0.02, -0.08 -94.2 91.8 0.0039 0.014 -93.6
Samsung Galaxy A3 (headphones attached) +0.33, -0.02 -92.7 90.9 0.067 0.208 -51.2
HTC One mini 2 +0.02, -0.09 -94.8 93.8 0.010 0.011 -93.5
HTC One mini 2 (headphones attached) +0.08, -0.03 -94.9 93.8 0.028 0.022 -90.1
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact +0.08, -0.02 -92.6 92.3 0.0052 0.012 -89.0
Sony Xperia Z1 Compact (headphones attached) +0.15, -0.05 -91.7 91.3 0.054 0.090 -43.7
Apple iPhone 5s +0.02, -0.05 -93.6 93.7 0.0013 0.0068 -90.3
Apple iPhone 5s (headphones attached) +0.12, -0.00 -93.4 93.3 0.0016 0.060 -76.1

Samsung Galaxy A3 frequency response

Samsung Galaxy A3 frequency response

You can learn more about the whole testing process here.

Camera

The Samsung Galaxy A3 is equipped with capable cameras on both sides. The back is loaded with an 8MP shooter and there's a 5MP selfie camera on the front. Both can record 1080p video, so you get similar quality video whichever one you use.

The camera interface combines still and video photography, though if you're shooting full-resolution photos (8MP with 4:3 aspect ratio) framing videos before you hit record may be a bit tricky.

Anyway, the right side of the screen holds the major controls - the two on-screen shutter keys (for stills and videos), the mode switcher and the gallery shortcut.

On the left you'll find additional controls, including the front/back camera toggle. You can drag two shortcuts here for the two settings you change most often.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Samsung Galaxy A3 camera interface

The Galaxy A3 comes preloaded with the usual camera modes like panorama, continuous shooting and HDR.

Selfies are the highlight - you can trigger the camera with a voice prompt or by putting your palm up. Also, the Wide Selfie mode will snap three photos to cover a 110° view of your surroundings (120° if you're shooting in landscape). This lets you fit a larger group into the shot. The auto-editing features like Beauty face perform some automatic enhancements with a slider to control the strength of the effect.

The image quality is good, though we've seen 8MP shooters that capture a better level of detail. The Samsung Galaxy A3 photos show a balance of noise and noise reduction that leaves traces of both, so detailed textures get smeared, while leaving the blue sky looking fairly grainy.

Color rendering is accurate and the dynamic range is good - only areas brightly lit by the sun get overexposed, while the camera retains detail in the shadows. Pixel peepers will notice some oversharpening halos. Overall, the image quality is good for the Galaxy A3's segment.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Samsung Galaxy A3 camera samples

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Macro shot

And here are a couple of shots from the 5MP front-facing camera:

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Galaxy A3 selfie camera samples

In case the strongly lit areas prove too much, you can enable the HDR mode, which improves bright areas (typically the sky). The effect is much weaker in the shadows - they are a bit darker, which improves the contrast without noticeably losing detail.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

HDR off and on

The panorama mode creates 1,200px tall images if you shoot in portrait mode (about half of that for landscape shots). The stitching looks accurate with no major artifacts, though straight lines have some waviness to them.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Samsung Galaxy A3 panorama sample

Photo quality comparison

8MP does not sound like much these days, but it's the resolution of choice for the iPhone since the 4S days. Compared against the latest release, the iPhone 6, the Samsung Galaxy A3 is a bit behind in terms of sharpness, but for the smallest of the Galaxy A-series this is solid performance.

Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool
Photo Compare Tool

Samsung Galaxy A3

Video camera

The Samsung Galaxy A3 sticks to 1080p video capture, which isn't as flashy as 4K but is the more practical option (not to mention that we can't expect 4K from a mid-ranger just yet).

Videos are stored in MP4 files at 1080p resolution and 30fps frame rate. They are recorded at 17Mbps total bitrate, including 256Kbps bitrate for 48kHz stereo audio. This is as good as it gets for smartphone audio recording at the moment.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Options for the video camera on the Galaxy A3

Videos are tack sharp and the framerate is smooth. Color rendering and dynamic range are similar to the still camera, which is to say, they're good.

Unlike stills, noise isn't an issue for videos. One noticeable omission here is the lack of 60fps mode - while 2160p is hard to justify until you get a 4K TV, the smoother motion in 60fps videos can significantly improve action-packed scenes.

Here's a video sample, shot whit the Samsung Galaxy A3.

You can also download this untouched video sample - 0:10s, 21.7MB - for closer examination.

The front-facing camera also records 1080p video and uses the same settings (17Mbps total bitrate, 256Kbps audio bitrate). Here's a quick sample of that too:

Video quality comparison

The Samsung Galaxy A3 uses the usual bitrate for FullHD videos (1080p) and while it's not quite as sharp as the best 1080p cameras out there, the end result stays close to the likes of the Apple iPhone 6. We've seen Android mid-rangers do significantly worse - "1080p" is just a label, unless the phone can back it up with matching quality.

Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool
Video Compare Tool

Samsung Galaxy A3

Internet and Chrome

The Samsung Galaxy A3 comes with both the stock Android browser (customized by Samsung) and Google's Chrome. Both support multiple tabs (including incognito ones) and an option to go straight to the desktop version of a page.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Samsung-customized Internet browser

With a Samsung account the Internet browser can sync your browsing history and bookmarks between devices, similar to Google Chrome.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Chrome with data-saving options

Chrome has another trick up its sleeve - it can reduce traffic by compressing web pages on Google's servers before they are sent to the device, similar to how Opera's Turbo mode (and Opera Mini) work.

Other apps

S Planner is the default calendar. It features five different views: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and agenda. Multiple online calendars are supported (complete with color coding). Despite bearing the same name, coming from the Galaxy Note 4 version of S Planner there's definitely the sense that this is a stripped down version.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

S Planner

The Memo app is fairly powerful, you can add images and voice notes in each memo and sort those in multiple categories. Notes are synced with a server, which is handy if you have several Samsung devices.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Memo app

The clock app has an alarm clock, World clock, stopwatch and timer modes. Smart alarm can wake you gently by starting a quiet sound that builds over a few minutes before the raw ringer kicks in.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Alarms • world clock • stopwatch • timer

My Files is the built-in file browser. Its initial screen is quite simple, sorting files by their type (video, document, etc.), but you can browse the built-in and microSD storage folder by folder, too. Files and folders can be moved, copied, deleted, renamed and ZIP-ed together.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

My Files with ZIP support

Finally, aside from the Google Play store you get Samsung Galaxy apps - the store for exclusive content for Galaxy smartphones. Much like Amazon, Samsung is pushing its own app store with free promos.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Google Play Store • Samsung Galaxy Apps

Final words

It's hard not to like the Samsung Galaxy A3. And there's more to like about it than what is on the outside. Even so, let's take one final moment to appreciate Samsung's creation.

They crafted a 6.9mm thick smartphone with an aluminum frame and targeted it straight at the mid-range market. It's also very compact and comfortably pocketable.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Samsung Galaxy A3 looks hot and packs a very capable camera. The 8MP shooter did very well in both still photography and video recording. The opposing 5MP camera is great for selfies and its 1080p video recording skills will be highly appreciated in video chats too.

You can't have it all, though. Where Samsung cut corners is the screen resolution. To put it simply, in 2015 qHD is the new WVGA. But it's not all bad because at 4.5" of diagonal the sharpness is acceptable. Plus, it's a Super AMOLED unit and a very bright one at that. You'll have no problems reading what's on screen even in direct sunlight, that's for sure.

Key test findings

  • Build quality is superb, with l thin and light body, though the white version has a pearl-like finish that may not appeal to all
  • The display is quite bright, with excellent sunlight legibility and great contrast
  • Battery life is okay, but the battery isn't removable
  • Performance is on par with other mid-rangers
  • TouchWiz is feature rich and customizable with themes, but there's no commitment to Android 5.0 Lollipop yet
  • Loudspeaker volume is average
  • Audio output quality is very good
  • Very good 8MP camera with solid 1080p video
  • Video player can play all the popular video formats in up to 1080p resolution, but AC3 sound is a no-go

Rounding up the package is the new midrange sweetheart, the Snapdragon 410. It's more than likely to be the chipset of choice for the top-tier manufacturers and that's not a bad thing. It packs plenty of brawn for the price point and moves Android about effortlessly.

A little nitpick of ours is the lack of dual-band Wi-Fi connectivity as the Galaxy A3 is limited to using 2.4GHz bands. Regardless, there's everything else you could need including NFC and LTE support (not on the Dual SIM version, though).

You don't need us telling you that the Galaxy A3 is up against some fierce competition. Let's check out some of the prime candidates.

First, there's Sony, the company, which pioneered the compact Android powerhouse with the Xperia Z1 Compact. That's one hell of a beast, albeit a bit dated now, packing a 4.3" 720p display and a Snapdragon 800 chipset. There's a 20.7MP camera, which makes mincemeat of the Galaxy A3's 8MP one. Did we mention it's also waterproof? Of course, its build quality is not as premium as the one of the Galaxy A3.

If you're into slightly larger phones, then the Sony Xperia M2 Aqua comes to the rescue with a 4.8" qHD panel and Snapdragon 400. True, this is the old generation chipset and that's noted in the phone's price, coming at nearly 80 euro less than the Galaxy A3. You can spend the difference on any outdoor activity involving underwater action shooting, too.

HTC One Remix
Sony Xperia E3

HTC One Remix • Sony Xperia E3

HTC also knows a thing or two about compact smartphones. The One Mini 2 is eager to show itself as a viable alternative to the Galaxy A3 with a similarly sized display, though of 720p resolution, which is covered with Gorilla Glass 3. It also comes with stereo speakers and an excellent 13MP camera. However, the aluminum unibody comes at a slightly higher price than the Galaxy A3.

HTC One mini 2

HTC One mini 2

Xiaomi chimes in with the Redmi 2. If you can get around buying it, you'll have a 4.7" 720p display and a Snapdragon 410 plus a similar 8MP camera as the Galaxy A3. The Redmi 2's battery is bigger at 2,200mAh. At 130 euros, this phone is a steal. The downside is it's hard to get and you'll be shipping cross-continent.

Xiaomi Redmi 2

Xiaomi Redmi 2

We can't talk compact mid-range smartphones without mentioning the Motorola Moto G. This is the phone that helped Motorola out of the slump and justly so. It's extremely affordable and offers a 4.5" 720p display and a Snapdragon 400 chipset coupled with a 2070mAh battery. The 5MP snapper is nothing exciting, but the price tag and the Moto G's character are hard to say no to. We recommend getting the Moto G LTE version as this one has a microSD slot.

Motorola Moto G

Motorola Moto G

Finally, we come to the Windows phone camp, where the Lumia 735 is eager to get some attention. The selfie phone from Microsoft (sporting a 5MP front-facer) offers a Snapdragon 400 chipset and a 4.7" 720p display. It also has its Dual SIM sibling in the face of the Lumia 730 Dual SIM.

Nokia Lumia 735
Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIM

Nokia Lumia 735 • Nokia Lumia 730 Dual SIM

Samsung is definitely on the right track - a little late perhaps but this is still the market-share leader. Too big to rethink a big chunk of its strategy overnight. There's still more to work on, but we like what we see here.

The Galaxy A3 is a superbly crafted phone, which looks cool and gets the job done - it's got plainly midrange specs but well up-to-date. The A3 can give Samsung a great start in 2015 and we wouldn't say no to a slight price drop to keep the momentum.

Unboxing

You can sense the change of Samsung's mobile game in the packaging of the Galaxy A3. It sports a lighter and cleaner design, which impresses at first sight.

Inside, we the usual array of accessories - headphones, microUSB cable, wall charger and a pin for the SIM card and microSD card trays.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Standard unboxing affair

Samsung Galaxy A3 360-degree spin

The Galaxy A3 measures 130 x 65.5 x 6.9mm and weighs just 110 g. It's compact and light weight, yet sturdy due to its aluminum frame.

Design and build quality

This change in the design concept is exactly what Samsung needed to stay on top of the smartphone market.

Happily, the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4 aren't concept devices and have inspired the mid-range line-up of the company as well as the high-end.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3 is stunning to look at

It all starts off with that aluminum metal frame. It sets the tone for the entire smartphone and keeps the thin profile in check.

The Galaxy A3 is one of the thinnest smartphones Samsung has ever made, next to the Galaxy A7, which measures just 6.3mm. In our office, the Galaxy A3 is joined by the Galaxy A5 and you should check them out posing side by side.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 side by side

The metal work doesn't stop with the frame, as there's metal as trim to the camera lens, the loudspeaker, the power key and volume rocker. Even the parts that are plastic are very premium quality. The back cover for instance, albeit non-removable, has a smooth surface, which glistens as light fall on it. In fact this finish reminds us of how a pearl would glisten under light. The impression is so strong that it adds a sort of a feminine feel to the white smartphone.

Unlike the Galaxy Alpha, the Galaxy A3 doesn't offer a finger-print sensor under the Home button, nor is there a heart-rate monitor on the back. The Galaxy Alpha however lacks a microSD slot.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3 and Galaxy Alpha side by side

We are impressed by the tactile feel of the home and power/lock buttons as well as the volume rocker. A small caveat is that the latter two are a bit narrow and thus harder to press.

That aside, handling the Galaxy A3 is a real pleasure - the phone is impressively thin and light, the build quality is great and the matte rear cover provides a solid grip. The Galaxy A3 would easily fit even in a tight shirt pocket and it's so light that you may altogether forget that it's there.

Controls

Above the display we find an earpiece, the usual bunch of sensors and a high-resolution 5MP selfie snapper.

There is nothing unusual below the screen either. A hardware Home key is flanked by a touch-sensitive App switcher key and a Back key.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

Samsung keeps the classic front layout intact

The metal sides of the phone host a single hardware control each - the Power button on the right and the Volume rocker on the left. Both are made of metal, but as we mentioned their slimness is a bit of an issue.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The hardware controls: the volume rocker on the right and the power/lock key in the left

The microSD and nanoSIM trays are on the right-hand side, easily ejectable with the provided metal pin. In contrast, the original Galaxy Alpha smartphone didn't offer a microSD storage expansion, but it did allow you to access and remove the battery.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The microSD card and SIM card slot trays

The top of the phone features only the secondary microphone, which is used for ambient noise cancellation in calls.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The top of the phone is almost bare

The bottom is more crowded, accommodating the exposed 3.5mm audio jack, the microUSB port and the primary mic pinhole.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The bottom of the Galaxy A3

The 8MP camera is on the back, accompanied by a rather big LED flash. The camera itself protrudes slightly from the back of the phone, extending past the quoted 6.9mm of thickness. The snapper is also capable of recording 1080p videos.

Out of reach, below the back panel, is hidden a 1,900mAh battery. Unfortunately, it's not user accessible.

Samsung Galaxy A3 Review
Samsung Galaxy A3 Review

The Galaxy A3 held in hand

Overall, we are pleased with the build quality and the way the Galaxy A3 feels in hand. Samsung did a splendid job here and its effort is showing through and through.

The only real drawbacks are the the non-removable battery and the fact that on the Dual SIM version you have to choose whether you would use the secondary slot for a microSD card or for a second SIM card - you can't enjoy both. Other than that, the Galaxy A3 a solid piece of kit and we're glad to see Samsung expand this design language across more affordable phones than the Galaxy Alpha.

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