Everybody is talking about the Galaxy S7 and the Galaxy S7 Edge, but these flagship phones don’t come cheap. If you aren’t bothered about 4K video, fingerprint readers or quad-HD screens then the Galaxy A3 might be right up your street.
The Galaxy A3 is a surprisingly capable mid-range phone. You get the classy, glass and metal body introduced by last year’s Galaxy S6, a vibrant 4.7-inch AMOLED screen and above-average battery life for half the price of Samsung’s top-end Galaxy S7. It isn’t perfect, but for the price you can’t go wrong.
Video: Find out how the Galaxy A3 compares to the Galaxy A5
We usually associate budget or mid-range phones with being cheap and plasticky. The good news is that aside from being a little smaller, the A3 is virtually indistinguishable from the Galaxy S6, which is one of the most attractive phones on the market.
It’s also a refreshing change to be able to use a phone one-handed. At 4.7-inches, your thumb can reach almost all of the screen without having to resort to the finger acrobats required on larger phones.
At 132g and 7.3mm thick, the A3 is easy to hold and sits comfortably in your hand thanks to its rounded corners.
If you’ve used a Samsung phone before, you’ll be familiar with the phone’s layout. The Home button (sans fingerprint reader) and the flanking capacitive return and recently used menu buttons make use of the bezel, rather than taking up screen real-estate in the form of the on-screen buttons used by the majority of Android phones.
Unlike Samsung’s flagship S7, the A3 isn’t water- or dust-resistant. We’d happy if it were simply fingerprint resistant – the glass body so easily picks up smudges and fingerprints that you’d be wise to keep a micro-fibre cloth handy!
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One of the issues I had with the 2015 Galaxy A3 was it’s low 960 x 540 (245ppi) resolution, so I’m pleased to see that Samsung has upgraded it to 1,280 x 720 (312ppi), while also bumping up the screen size to 4.7 inches. It’s far from the sharpest screen, but it’s in the same ballpark as Apple’s Retina display on the iPhone 6S.
The display itself looks lovely – the A3 uses Samsung’s fabulous Super AMOLED technology. You can adjust the screen mode in the Options menu, switching between Adaptive display (default), AMOLED cinema, AMOLED and Basic. The Basic option offers the most natural colour reproduction, but I can’t help but prefer the more vibrant – if slightly unrealistic – adaptive mode.
Using the A3 outside on a sunny day doesn’t prove problematic either, thanks to the outdoor display mode kicking in and boosting the brightness.