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Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) review: The S6 Mini in disguise

Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
Our Rating :
£69.99 from
Price when reviewed : 269
inc VAT (as of 29th of April)

It's expensive, but the tiny Galaxy A3 2016 beats every other mid-range smartphone when it comes to looks and battery life

Specifications

Processor: Quad-core 1.5GHz Exynos Octa 7580, Screen Size: 4.7in, Screen resolution: 1,280×720, Rear camera: 13 megapixels, Storage (free): 16GB (11GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 135x65x7.3mm, Weight: 132g, Operating system: Android 5.1.1  Buy Now from Mobilefun

The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) is a budget smartphone with a premium look. With a metal frame, Samsung gave its customers the same high-end feel as its Galaxy S line, without them having to burn a hole in their pockets.

With such a beautiful design, the Galaxy A3 2016 could even be mistaken for a miniature Galaxy S6. It’s stunning to look at with its smooth glass rear, slim bezels, that both combine with its thickness to produce a fantastic phone to hold.

Better still, since we reviewed it, it has dropped in price – dropping from £269 to under £200, making it an even more appealing pruchase.

Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 side

That beauty does come at a higher price this year, though, as its current SIM-free price of £269 is a long way from the initial £225 you had to pay for its plastic-backed forebear. In fact, it’s even more expensive than the OnePlus 2, which has a large 5.5in display and considerably faster components thanks to its top-end spec. Not everyone wants a massive smartphone, of course, but even the OnePlus X, which is a similar size to the 4.7in Galaxy A3 2016 and offers a similarly luxurious kind of build quality, only costs £199.

Performance

The A3 2016’s got some pretty tough competition, then, but it’s not a complete right-off before it’s even got out of the gate. In fact, the A3 2016’s quad-core 1.5GHz Exynos 7580 chip and 1.5GB of RAM put up a surprisingly good fight against the OnePlus X’s old Snapdragon 801 processor and 3GB of RAM, as our benchmark results weren’t as far apart as you might expect.

If anything, the A3’s Exynos chip is more akin to Qualcomm’s current Snapdragon 615 chip, as its single core Geekbench 3 result of 701 puts it on a level playing field with the Moto X Play and Sony Xperia M4 Aqua. This is about 200 points slower than the OnePlus X, but Android 5.1.1 still felt lovely and smooth on the new A3 when flicking through its various menu screens.

The A3 also fell behind in the multicore test, but its score of 2,143 (up from 1,418 on last year’s A3) was still only 300 points behind the X. This is pretty good going considering the X’s Snapdragon 801 runs at a much faster clock speed of 2.3GHz, and in day-to-day use you’d be hard-pushed to see much of a difference.

Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 display

Likewise, the A3’s web browsing Peacekeeper score of 677 was within 100 points of the OnePlus X, and it proved very capable indeed when it came to handling media-heavy web pages. Scrolling could still be a little stop-start in places, particularly while pages were loading, but its smooth touchscreen felt very responsive once everything was ready to view.

The only area where it really loses out to the OnePlus X is its gaming performance, as its rather pitiful 254 frames (around 4.1fps) in the offscreen Manhattan 3.0 test in GFX Bench GL isn’t that much better than an entry-level smartphone with a Snapdragon 410 inside it. It’s still perfectly adequate for simple games like Threes! but anyone looking to play more graphically-complex titles like Hearthstone should probably look elsewhere, as a quick round of Blizzard’s card-trading game ended up being just a bit too juddery for my liking.

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Hardware
ProcessorQuad-core 1.5GHz Exynos Octa 7580
RAM1.5GB
Screen size4.7in
Screen resolution1,280×720
Screen typeSuper AMOLED
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera13 megapixels
FlashLED
GPSYes
CompassYes
Storage (free)16GB (11GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Wi-Fi802.11n
BluetoothBluetooth 4.1
NFCYes
Wireless data3G, 4G
Size135x65x7.3mm
Weight132g
Features
Operating systemAndroid 5.1.1
Battery size2,300mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£269
Price on contract (inc VAT)N/A
Prepay price (inc VAT)N/A
SIM-free supplierhttp://www.mobilefun.co.uk/sim-free-samsung-galaxy-a3-2016-unlocked-16gb-black-p57335.htm
Contract/prepay supplierN/A
Detailswww.samsung.com/uk
Part codeSM-A310F

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