Samsung’s latest Galaxy A series is trying really hard to bridge the gap between premium phones and the mid-range segment in terms of visual identity. With last year’s models, the company moved upmarket by a healthy margin, bringing a dose of exclusivity to the mid-range segment.
This year things are taken even further by implementing features such as IP68 waterproofing and using Samsung’s proprietary chipset instead of Qualcomm’s usual offering.
Galaxy A3 (2017) now comes with a slightly curved back and rounded-out edges resulting in unprecedented comfort. The metal and glass build truly feels exquisite, however the black version tends to attract fingerprints while lighter colours somewhat conceal the issue.
One aspect users should be aware of is that glass surfaces have reduced grip so we recommend picking up a clear polycarbonate case right away just to stay on the safe side. A thin see-through case will allow you to soak in all the wonderful design elements while keeping the phone planted safely in your hand. Another visual change comes from moving the speaker from the bottom to the right side of Galaxy A3 (2017).
The idea is not to cover it up when watching videos and gaming in horizontal position and it works quite well. Dimensions come in at a modest 135.4 x 66.2 x 7.9 mm with a weight of 138 grams.
Unlike most smartphones surfacing on the market nowadays, Samsung opted for a modestly sized 4.7-inch screen with 720 x 1280 pixels at your disposal. Pixel density comes out to 312ppi which isn’t bad for a mid-range device. Thanks to its Super AMOLED panel, the screen is incredibly vivid making all types of content a pleasure to watch.
Those who aren’t fans of Samsung’s splashy colours can opt for “Basic Mode” in display settings in order to tone down things to a normal level.
Instead of the usual Qualcomm chipset, the company opted for its own Exynos 7870 octa-core CPU paired with Mali-T830 GPU and 2GB of RAM. Benchmarking tests reveal that performance is comparable to other devices in this price range with the added benefit of extended battery life. With normal usage, we would end our day with around 50% charge left in the tank, meaning that lasting two days on a single charge is totally plausible.
In terms of real-life performance, we couldn’t notice any downsides. Yes, it isn’t as quick with some tasks as your latest flagship, but then it doesn’t cost half as much. Even more demanding games can be played without framerate drops and that’s all you really need. Multimedia playback naturally wasn’t an issue. Memory comes in at a modest 16GB however it can be expanded to 256GB using a microSD card.
Out of the box users are greeted by Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow overlaid with Samsung’s own UI. We weren’t the biggest fans of it on previous generations, but it has cleaned up quite nicely in recent times. Stock Android is all you need and companies should be heading in that direction.
On the camera front, Galaxy A3 (2017) comes with a 13-megapixel main camera paired with an 8-megapixel front camera. An aperture of f/1.9 hints at good low-light performance, yet one will need to look for optimal lighting conditions to make the most out of it. A lack of optical image stabilization means you will have to aim steadily to keep photos crisp, but colours are fairly realistic and there is ample detail in most shots. The front sensor has been given more megapixels to satisfy selfie fans and it certainly does.
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)’s biggest strength is the level of craftsmanship you get for a fairly modest price. We aren’t kidding when we say that it’s comparable to Galaxy S7, a smartphone that costs significantly more. We know that performance is not even in the same league as that of any flagship phone, but if you want something that looks good and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) is definitely the right choice!