Samsung Galaxy A3 review - small but beautiful

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Samsung Galaxy A3
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
225
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Page 1 of 2Samsung Galaxy A3 review - small but beautiful

Performance could be better, but it's a small complaint when the Galaxy A3 has such a great design, screen, camera and battery life

Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410, Screen Size: 4.5in, Screen resolution: 960x540, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (10GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 130x65.6.9mm, Weight: 110g, Operating system: Android 4.4.4. See all of the best Samsung Galaxy A3 deals on uSwitch

Samsung finally embraced metal smartphones with the Galaxy Alpha, and has now started bringing the same level of durability and excellent build quality to a lower price bracket with the Galaxy A series. We're now onto a new series of Galaxy A phones - see here for our review of the 2016 version of the Galaxy A3 - but the 2015 A3 model reviewed here still maintains one of the best looking compact handsets I've seen to date. 

While most smartphones at this end of the market are swaddled in cheap plastic, the A3 has a full metal unibody that looks absolutely stunning in the flesh. It's also one of Samsung's thinnest and lightest handsets, ensuring that its sturdy materials won't feel like a dead weight in your hand. It doesn't stop there, either, as the shimmering, almost glitter-like finish on the back gives it an extra level of class. 

Admittedly, the straight, uniform frame isn't quite as eye-catching as the angular, but now rather elderly Alpha, but the A3's smooth shape and lightly chamfered edges are still very comfortable to hold, and I much prefer it to the glass rear Samsung used on the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S7

Display

It's a shame the 4.5in screen only has a low 960x540 resolution, though, as this makes web browsing a little hard on the eyes, particularly when viewing desktop sites. There are plenty of jagged, pixellated app icons on the main home screen as well, and text occasionally wasn't quite as sharp we would have liked.

Still, we had no complaints about the quality of its Super AMOLED display, as our colour calibrator returned a perfect sRGB colour gamut score of 100% and a perfect black level of 0.00cd/m2. Likewise, its contrast levels were off the charts, so images had excellent clarity.

Samsung Galaxy A3 camera

When you look at it side by side with the Galaxy S6, for example, you'd be hard pressed to tell them apart in terms of colour, so you can be absolutely sure you're getting one of the best smartphone screens around for a fraction of the price. With a peak brightness of 357.04cd/m2, it's not the brightest display we've ever seen, but AMOLED displays are usually dimmer than their LCD counterparts and it's still perfectly usable outside whether it's sunny or overcast.

Performance

The Galaxy A3 is powered by a quad-core, 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 processor paired with 1.5GB of RAM. This is more than capable of running Android 4.4, but it also means it's no faster than more entry-level handsets such as Motorola's £110 2nd Gen Moto E. Its Geekbench 3 scores of 474 and 1,418 in the single and multicore tests are almost exactly the same as the Moto E's 470 and 1,397. The A3 also scored a similar figure in Futuremark's Peacekeeper browser test, finishing with 670 compared to the Moto E's 625.

As a result, opening apps and menu settings take roughly the same time to open on both phones. Web browsing is a touch faster on the A3, but there's no denying this is still a little sluggish considering the A3 is twice as expensive SIM-free. It's certainly not as quick as the £200 EE Harrier, which has a faster Snapdragon 615 chip. That being said, the A3 isn't the only mid-range phone to get lumbered with a Snapdragon 410, as it shares the same chipset as HTC's £210 Desire 620. In this sense, at least the A3 has design and screen quality on its side, as the Desire 620 pales by comparison on both fronts, even though both of them have similar performance.

Samsung Galaxy A3 side on

Graphics performance was pretty slow, too, as it only produced 111 frames (or a stuttering 1.8fps) in the offscreen Manhatten test in our GFX Bench GL benchmark, which is one frame less than the Moto E. Admittedly, this is a very demanding test, as even the Galaxy S6 can only produce 1,429 frames (or 23fps). In practice, the A3 handled real games such as Blizzard's Hearthstone with almost no trouble at all. Battle animations and speech bubbles were occasionally a little jerky and sometimes took a second to load, but it wasn't enough to put us off playing. Continues on Page 2 ...

Page 1 of 2Samsung Galaxy A3 review - small but beautiful

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