Well, it’s a brand new year of new possibilities, resolutions, and adventures. And oh yes, also radical new tech devices we ostensibly won’t be able to live without, and that grandiosely promise to revolutionize the world as we know it. At least according to those glossy press releases and ads I never seem to get tired of reading or watching slack-jawed while steadily popping popcorn. If not a total revolution, then some refresh of the lineage is called for, and Samsung has embarked on the latter path with the relaunch and we hope rebirth of its popular Samsung Galaxy A3 smartphone series. This is a total redesign of the original version with some new functionality, productivity hardware and software, glamor and style carefully slapped on to make it much more competitive and near as alluring like its bigger and crazy-sweet Samsung siblings.
First unveiled at CES 2017 along with other Samsung tech, but sadly no flagships, it is available in Gold Sky, Black Sand, Blue mist and Peach cloud, whatever the hell those colors mean! And it’s not just the A3 being updated and relaunched, but also the rest of the A-series lineup to dramatically make them more badass. The official launch is scheduled for the Russian Federation first of all, before the rest of the globe get their itchy paws on one. Still, we did manage to receive a preview copy, don’t ask me how! So here goes our Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 review.
Build Quality and Design
To start with, it doesn’t look at all like a mid-range and mid-priced device. My guess is that the guys responsible for the eye-fabulous Galaxy S7 and the Note series were brought in to clean up the A3 ugly duckling and make it a glittering star. Overall build quality is excellent, and it feels just right in my hand, nor does it flex when probed and tortured. The back is curvy and helps ensure a good grip, while the rounded edges do make it easier to use and easier to put and keep in the pocket.
The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 is built of metal, rather than the largely plastic of its predecessor. This considerably adds the finish, style, and durability to it. Still, the gloss back does act very much like a fingerprint magnet, and it additionally comes thicker than last year’s model at 7.9mm. Which however is barely noticeable and presumably due to hardware improvements. The most noticeable of course being the battery and the fingerprint sensor on the home button. Overall dimensions are 135 x 4.66 x 7.9mm.
The display is one of the more outstanding things I love about this device, and of course is an HD Super AMOLED just like mama, sorry Samsung can make and bake it. Screen real estate is just 4.7-inches, which while seemingly puny in this golden age of the phablet is still plenty big for games, videos and other tasks. Display resolution is capped at 1280 x 720, rather than full HD or even 4K. While meager on paper, this still works out to an excellent 312ppi. Colors are sharp enough to shave with, richer than goat milk and punchy enough to challenge for the vacant middleweight boxing crown. At max brightness too while outdoors usability is undiminished, and you get to thumb your nose at the sun and tap away while it fries your brain.
The low-resolution screen is probably a result of cost-cutting, penny-pinching measures by Samsung, and while comparable smartphones in the A3 2017 price range do sport more ramped up screen resolution, this one is still good enough to fool you into thinking it outputs higher eye-candy than it actually does.
Camera? Oh well, you don’t buy this device for the camera, not unless you are in need of some heartbreak. Not an exaggeration much as the camera is not that bad, but neither is it that good. At the back is the main shooter, a 13 MP sized fella with LED flash and an aperture of F/1.9. This generally delivers great footage, as long as you remember to shoot in well-lit environments. More, with no Optical Image Stabilization available, videos I shot tend to be jerky but still pretty usable. A rock-steady hand is therefore necessary, but probably won’t do much good.
At the front is the 8 MP selfie-imager, a significant bump up from last year’s 5 MP front sensor. The aperture size of this one is again F/1.9 and pictures, and videos of my ugly mug and surroundings were generally excellent if unremarkable. Various customization modes, not to mention filters are additionally available that primp you up and make you model-perfect with just a couple of taps and some imagination.
Performance and Connectivity
The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 is certainly not lacking in power. Keeping everything ticking smoothly is an octa-core Exynos chipset that runs at a brisk 1.6 GHZ, this is coupled with 2 GB of RAM and 16 GB of internal storage. While miserly, the internal space can be expanded to a gargantuan 256 GB via the available SD card slot. Nothing much to do about the RAM however but to grin and bear it. OS is the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface slipped in. Connectivity options are rather diverse and include: dual SIM/dual standby, Bluetooth 4.2, NFC, GPS, USB Type-C, and Wi-Fi 802.,11a/b/g/n/ac. Additionally, it has an IP68 certification, which means you can use it in the shower without much concern. But I would advise against flushing it down the loo on a bet.
In action, the device certainly does not disappoint. Control is fluid and instantly responsive, and multitasking is no chore. Still, it does struggle with graphically intensive games, particularly when the graphics setting is cranked up to the max. Locking/unlocking the device via the Fingerprint sensor was faultless and fast. Audio performance too from the sideways located speaker is generally loud and distinct, but somewhat tinny. While call quality was excellent.
The battery capacity has been increased over the predecessor for which am thankful for. Additionally, with fast charging -but not wireless charging- enabled it really doesn’t take long to top up the device. Charging up is done via the USB Type-C port, which is about to become the industry standard. At medium usage, it’s rather easy to get a day plus functionality out of the device before topping up becomes a frantically urgent task.
At a stated MSRP of 299 Pounds, it’s rather steep when competing devices are taken into consideration. Still, add in the fingerprint reader and IP68 certification, and it starts looking more like a bargain. As long as you don’t expect it to take you on a trip around the galaxy of course.