Sam­sung Galaxy A3 2017

£299 • sam­sung.com/uk

Android Advisor - - Contents - Ash­leigh Macro

Sam­sung’s CES 2017 of­fer­ings were ex­cit­ing, with a new Chrome­book and the com­pany’s first gam­ing lap­top, but the bad news is that nei­ther of those are com­ing to the UK any time soon (prob­a­bly not at all). We did, how­ever, get to spend some time with the com­pany’s new mid-range phones on the show floor. The firm has up­dated its A se­ries for 2017, which com­prises the A3, A5 and A7. The best-seller is the A3, which is the small­est of the three mod­els with a 4.7in screen.

De­sign

The first thing that struck us about the new A3 and its big­ger sib­lings is its de­sign, which now looks even more like Sam­sung’s flag­ship Galaxy S7 thanks to its slightly curved back and rounded edges that feel bril­liantly com­fort­able in the hand. We’re not the big­gest fans of the shiny back be­cause it soon be­comes cov­ered in fin­ger­prints, but the lighter colours tend to hide those quite well so we’d rec­om­mend opt­ing against the black model if that’s some­thing that both­ers you. It’s avail­able in Black Sky, Gold Sand, Blue Mist and Peach Cloud.

The A3 has ac­tu­ally in­creased in thick­ness over last year’s 7.3mm, now mea­sur­ing 7.9mm. That’s still suit­ably slim though, so we didn’t find it to be a ma­jor draw­back dur­ing our test­ing but could be some­thing to con­sider for some con­sumers. That ex­tra thick­ness could be in part due to the small bat­tery bump from 2300- to 2350mAh and the ad­di­tion of a finger­print sen­sor, which is new for the A3 this year. The bat­tery is still non-re­mov­able, though, but it does of­fer fast-charg­ing.

Sam­sung has also moved the phone’s speaker from the bot­tom of the de­vice to the right side after last year’s move from the back to the bot­tom. This time the idea be­hind the move is that the po­si­tion of the speaker means you’ll never cover it up, whether you’re play­ing a game or watch­ing a video. It seemed to work in prac­tice, but we weren’t able to test the qual­ity of the speaker be­cause the show floor at CES was re­mark­ably loud.

One of the most ex­cit­ing things about the A3’s de­sign and build is its new IP68 wa­ter­proof rat­ing like the S7, which is a real boon for the clumsy

like us and puts your mind at rest if you’re out and about with your phone in the un­pre­dictable Bri­tish weather. This rat­ing makes the A3 wa­ter­proof up to 1.5m for 30 min­utes, so you could even take it into the pool on hol­i­day if you’re feel­ing brave.

Dis­play

The Galaxy A3 2017’s 4.7in screen hits the sweet spot for us when it comes to screen size. Most flag­ship phones th­ese days have a screen that’s 5in or big­ger, but we pre­fer the porta­bil­ity of the 4.7in screen size and find it to be a good bal­ance be­tween be­ing us­able, en­joy­able to use for gam­ing and watch­ing videos and a com­fort­able fit in the hand, pocket or bag.

The screen it­self is Sam­sung’s HD Su­per AMOLED dis­play which the com­pany de­scribes

as 2.5D due to its slight curve at the edges. Su­per AMOLED screen tech is our favourite of all phone dis­plays thanks to its vi­brant, slightly over­sat­u­rated colours and ex­cel­lent con­trast. This screen hasn’t changed since last year’s mod­els and is still HD at 1280x720 pix­els, but due to the smaller screen size this still of­fers a pixel den­sity of 312ppi which will be plenty sharp enough for most users.

Dur­ing our test­ing we found the A3 2017’s screen to be bright, crisp and sat­is­fac­tory but not out­stand­ing like the quad- and Ul­tra-HD of­fer­ings you’ll see in many flag­ships this year, but that’s one of the rea­sons Sam­sung can keep this phone’s price tag much lower than its flag­ship so it’s up to you to de­cide whether that’s a sac­ri­fice you’re will­ing to make in or­der to save your­self some cash.

Fea­tures

Be­neath that screen is the tech that pow­ers the A3, in­clud­ing its 1.6GHz Exynos 7870 Octa-core pro­ces­sor. That’s an im­prove­ment over the 1.5GHz Exynos 7578 quad-core pro­ces­sor in last year’s model and is paired with 2GB RAM over 1.5GB too, so could present quite a speed bump.

Dur­ing our test­ing we found it to be re­spon­sive and speedy even when play­ing a driv­ing game and open­ing apps in­clud­ing the cam­era, but we know from ex­pe­ri­ence with pre­vi­ous A se­ries phones from Sam­sung and other hand­sets with mid-range pro­ces­sors that it’ll likely slow down a bit once you start eat­ing through stor­age.

There’s 16GB of in­ter­nal stor­age in the A3, but there is now also the ca­pac­ity to add up to 256GB thanks to the mi­croSD card slot, which is

an im­prove­ment over last year’s 128GB max. You’ll likely never need quite that much, but most users will want to add a mi­croSD card of some size to the phone as you’re likely to be left with un­der 10GB of space left once you’ve up­dated all of the pre­in­stalled apps on the phone.

We’re look­ing for­ward to run­ning the A3 through our bench­mark tests to find out ex­actly how it com­pares with last year’s model and its ri­vals from Mo­torola, which tends to be the com­pany Sam­sung strug­gles to com­pete with in the mid-range mar­ket.

When it comes to con­nec­tiv­ity, the A3 now charges via USB-C like Sam­sung’s Note 7. USB-C will soon be the norm for all phones rather than the cur­rent Mi­cro-USB, but it does mean there’s a slightly an­noy­ing tran­si­tion pe­riod to deal with first as you’ll need a new ca­ble and po­ten­tially adapters for your ac­ces­sories too. The A3 also has NFC, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth 4.2 and GPS.

Cam­era

The A3’s rear cam­era is still the 13Mp f/1.9 snap­per with an LED flash that we got with last year’s model. There’s aut­o­fo­cus but still no op­ti­cal im­age sta­bil­i­sa­tion which means you’ll need to keep a steady hand to cap­ture the best shots.

The ma­jor cam­era im­prove­ment goes to the front-fac­ing cam­era though, which is now 8Mp rather than 5Mp but is still f/1.9.

While pho­tos are un­likely to blow you away, they’re rea­son­ably sharp and of­fer re­al­is­tic colours, and there are var­i­ous shoot­ing modes to choose from in­clud­ing Pro, Panorama, Con­tin­u­ous Shot, HDR, Night and more, as well as plenty of fil­ters.

Soft­ware

The A3 now of­fers An­droid 6.0.1 Marsh­mal­low, with Sam­sung’s TouchWiz UI over­laid but noth­ing par­tic­u­larly no­table and there are some fea­tures miss­ing that you’ll find on Sam­sung’s flag­ship mod­els like Multi-Win­dow View, Pop-Up Win­dow modes and more.

Ver­dict

Over­all, the A3’s im­prove­ments for 2017 are pretty sig­nif­i­cant and make this nice-sized, nice-priced phone even more ap­peal­ing for those who like the idea of the Galaxy S7 but can’t quite stretch their bud­get that far. Its wa­ter­proof­ing and finger­print sen­sor are both con­ve­nient and prac­ti­cal, and the good-look­ing de­sign makes it easy to for­get that this phone has a price tag that’s half that of many flag­ship phones. We’ve yet to be able to prop­erly test the cam­era, speed and per­for­mance of the A3

2017, but we’ll up­date this re­view as soon as we’ve got our bench­mark re­sults and cam­era test re­sults through.

Specifications

2.5D 4.7in HD Su­per-AMOLED dis­play

An­droid 6.0.1 Marsh­mal­low

Exynos Octa-Core 7870 1.6GHz CPU

2GB RAM

16GB in­ter­nal stor­age

13Mp rear cam­era

8Mp front-fac­ing cam­era

mi­croSD slot for up to 256GB ad­di­tional stor­age

2350mAh bat­tery

USB Type-C

Finger­print sen­sor

IP68 wa­ter­proof

135.4x66.2x7.9mm

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