Samsung Galaxy J3 – Camera
There are many important areas in which the Samsung Galaxy J3 makes compromises compared to what you’ll find elsewhere for the price.
In terms of the camera, the J3 includes an 8-megapixel f/2.2 on the rear, where several phones at this price now offer decent 13-megapixel cameras. This is an entry-level setup, but in practice it still provides better results than those handsets offering the same on paper.
The Samsung Galaxy J3 suffers from only slight shutter lag when shooting normal photos, making this quite a fun camera to use. Similarly, focusing speeds won’t blow your mind, but they won’t annoy either.
This phone also includes similar camera software to the Samsung Galaxy S7, although some of the decent parts have been left out. Its Manual mode is stripped down to the basics, and there’s no Auto HDR mode either.
A few years ago, this would have been an excellent budget phone camera. These days, it doesn’t quire reach the heights of the 3rd-gen Motorola Moto G, which has a 13-megapixel sensor used previously in much more expensive phones. These include the OnePlus One and Nexus 5.
The J3 takes less detailed shots that lack punch and display much worse dynamic range. However, it remains acceptable in this category as features such as metering and white balance are fairly reliable. Low-light photo quality is poor, but there is an LED flash on hand to offer assistance at night.
It’s an uninspired camera, but not an awful one.
Metering is fine here, but the blown-own highlights show the limits of the J3’s dynamic range
In decent conditions you can get some perfectly nice pictures
On the whole, photos taken at night are dreadful
Like several budget handsets of the moment, the Samsung Galaxy J3 appears to put in a little more effort into its front camera. A 5-megapixel sensor is relatively high-res for a phone of the price, and it’s capable of taking fairly natural-looking selfies.
Samsung Galaxy J3 – Battery life
The Samsung Galaxy J3 has a removable 2,600mAh battery, which is decent given the phone’s specification. However, I’ve had mixed experiences in terms of its stamina.
In many of the straight battery tests I’ve tried, it’s performed fine. A half-hour of Minecraft drains 9% of the battery, suggesting that it will manage around five and a half hours of gaming. Streaming video over Wi-Fi skims 12% off the battery in an hour, which is again a fairly standard result.
In general use, however, I found that the Samsung Galaxy J3 consumed power far quicker than rivals such as the Moto G 3rd-gen or the Oppo F1. Most days, I needed an emergency top-up before bed time.
There are a couple of reasons for this. First, since the J3 doesn’t include an auto brightness setting, for much of the time the screen will be brighter than is needed, and therefore drain more of the battery. While a slightly over-bright display will look fine, a slightly dim one will probably prove annoying
Also at fault could be the Spreadtrum SoC, which may be less adept at juggling connections effectively when compared to the solutions of big-name chipset makers. It could be a mix of the two, even though the J3 has zero problem with overheating. It runs cool.
Samsung Galaxy J3 – Sound Quality
The Samsung Galaxy J3 has a reasonable speaker. It sits on the rear, so will be blasting sound away from you unless it’s sitting face-down. The quality of the sound is just fine for an entry-level phone, though.
Sound doesn’t distort, the max volume is pretty decent and it’s neither too sharp or muddy.
Related: Best budget smartphones
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy J3?
Where the Moto G series is all about providing the best possible experience at the price, the Samsung Galaxy J3 is all peaks and troughs.
That it manages to feel like a relative of the Galaxy S7 is great, and the software is about the best you can get outside of vanilla Android. However, a slow CPU, annoying display and mediocre performance quite simply mean there are better options available – even at this price.
The Samsung Galaxy J3 is a low-cost phone that makes a few too many compromises.
How we test phones
We test every mobile phone we review thoroughly. We use industry standard tests to compare features properly and we use the phone as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Score in detail
Battery Life 7
Calls & Sound 7
Screen Quality 6