Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): A Premium Beast with Amazing Battery Life [Review]

Much to our delight, the midrange smartphone market is growing crowded. Increased competition has seen many features from the upper midrange phones trickling down to lower tiered ones. The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) is a good example of these blurred lines or at least it tries to be.

The company’s A series always stands close to its flagship S series in terms of build, design and specifications. With that of course, comes a high price tag, but still reasonably lower than the Samsung flagships.

The recently updated A3 (2017), moves towards an S series like design aiming to copy the dual glass looks of the premium S7. Let’s take a look if the new A3 justifies its price tag or not.

Build Quality & Display

As expected of the A series, the A3 (2017) has an attractive design with great attention to detail. You instantly notice the weight of the device in your hand, which allows for a premium feel yet feels light enough not to be uncomfortable. The phone has a metal frame and plastic back. The rear is shiny and aims to mimic the glass like look on the Galaxy S7.

The phone’s a bit slippery but fortunately it’s small so grip isn’t too much of an issue unless you have really tiny hands.

A3 (2017) comes with a 4.7 inch 720p Super AMOLED screen. The resolution is subpar but unless you are looking at it from 8 inches away, you won’t notice the pixels. As is usual with AMOLED screens, you get deep blacks. Other than that, the brightness is pretty high and the screen is legible in bright sunlight.

There are some minor issues with the screen though. When viewed from the side, there is a slight greenish hue. This results in some color deviation as well. It doesn’t hamper the daily usage but it’s definitely noticeable. The screen brightness also drops dramatically when viewed from the sides.

The phone is IP68 water and dust resistance rated. So if you’re a bit clumsy, that should provide you some peace of mind. Just don’t go swimming with it.

Hardware and Performance

The A3 (2017) is powered by an octa-core 1.6 GHz Cortex-A53 Exynos 7870 chipset which comes with 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage.

The chipset is reasonably powerful and is better than what you get with most midrangers in the market. There isn’t any noticeable lag or stutter. Game performance is great and even the best games run smoothly, partly due to the slightly lower-res 720p screen which requires less graphics processing.

Multitasking, however, was mediocre at best. You can’t run more than 4 apps at once without resetting the last app. We tested with slightly heavy Google apps and were dissatisfied with the performance. However, that’s just bread and butter with phones limited to 2GB of RAM.

The A3 (2017) got a good Antutu score, posted weak numbers for the Geekbench single core test and did decently in the multi-core benchmark. PC Mark gave it an acceptable score for different daily usage benchmarks.

The phone also comes with a fingerprint sensor embedded in the home button. The sensor, however, is a little iffy and often doesn’t even notice the finger. When it does work, it takes about 1.5 seconds from sleep to the homescreen, definitely not the fastest around but still good enough if Samsung manage to fix the recognition feature.

The loudspeaker is placed above the power button on the right side. While it is nicely positioned such that it can’t be easily blocked with the hands or when placing it on a flat surface, the volume is very low. You probably won’t even be able to hear the audio output in the noise of ACs or fans during the summer season. The headphone volume is pretty low as well.

That’s not the only issue as the sound output is pretty bad and tinny.

Operating System & User Interface

As mentioned before, the UI has no noticeable lag and day to day usage is great. The UI offers limited customization so you will have to do some work if you dislike the stock look.

The A3 comes with an Easy mode for people who like simpler interfaces with very few settings and it’s mostly targeted towards old or illiterate people. Settings are easier to find (compared to stock Android) with the new UI.

Samsung has added a game launcher which can boost game performance by reducing the resolution. It can also help with the battery consumption as well.

The phone comes with Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow, though an upgrade to Nougat is expected in the coming months. With Android O around the corner, we would have loved to see it come out with Android 7.0 out of the box.

Camera

A3 (2017) comes with a 13MP rear camera accompanied by a dual LED flash. Our expectations were high when reviewing the camera but unfortunately, camera was a big let down in this case. While daylight photography is good enough for the price, indoor and low light photography is abysmal. Take a look at the samples below:

Colors are good in broad daylight and sharpness is decent as well. HDR, curiously enough, brings no benefits and there’s little retrieval of lost details. Instead, HDR mode ends up bringing more noise unless the scene is very well lit.

As soon as light starts to drop, there is a sharp decrease in quality. You can barely make out the pictures during the evening. It grows worse as it gets darker and even the flash cannot help unless the focal target is less than 1 meter away.

Pro mode is available on A3 (2017)  and allows for ISO adjustment from 200 to 800 and exposure adjustment. With the results in auto mode, we weren’t expecting much from the pro mode and we were sadly proven right. Pro mode is subpar and brings nothing good to the table due to the weak sensor.

With the default camera app, you can easily apply filters by swiping right on the camera screen. It’s an easy to use feature for those who like Instagram their every moment.

The front camera features an 8MP sensor. It offers some nice beautification features like skin tone adjustment, face slimming, blemish removal and more. The front camera is pretty good for social media usage and selfie lovers won’t be disappointed.

Battery

With a small 2,350mAh battery, we didn’t expect much from the A3 (2017) in terms of battery life. However, the Exynos 7870, 2GB RAM and a relatively small 4.7-inch screen proved it a beast.

It passed our extensive battery testing with flying colors and exceeded all our expectations. The phone got 9 hours and 30 minutes of continuous use during our real life benchmark testing which includes web browsing, video playback, graphics editing, gaming and video editing. The brightness was set at 50% during the whole time. In normal day-to-day usage, we got about 6 hours of screen-on-time with over 34 hours of standby.

In case you want even longer battery life, you can enable the different battery saving modes available in the Battery Settings menu.

The phone comes with USB Type-C cable though a fast charger is missing. Even without it, the phone charges in just 1.5 hours.

Final Verdict

A3 (2017) leaves us with mixed feelings, specially with the asking price of around Rs. 25,000-30,000 depending on where you purchase it, While the phone could be good for the average user who spends more time on social networking or mobile gaming, power users will find it sorely lacking. Simply put, there are better phones in this price range so we can’t recommend it unless the price drops substantially.

Here’s a breakdown of what we liked and disliked about the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017).

Pros:

  • Battery life is great
  • No noticeable lag
  • Great build quality
  • Phone is water resistant
  • Display is good (although it has minor color shifts)

Cons:

  • Camera quality is decent in bright light, terrible in low light
  • Loudspeaker is quiet and low quality
  • Price is too high considering what’s on offer

Edit: Updated review in light of recent price jump for the phone

A techie, Overwatch and Street Fighter enthusiast, and Sub Editor at ProPakistani.


  • Xahid

    20,000/= Price tag.
    NOPE, does not justify that price, very very expensive, we have Xiaomi Redmi 4a (14,000) much better specs from A3!
    A3 is failure!

    • Sadiq Qureshi

      Comparing Samsung with Xiaomi? Have you ever used Samsung Phone? i am sure you did not, Samsung is the world best brand and best things are expensive.

      • Xahid

        Yes, My 2nd Phone was Samsung Galaxy S2 and then S4, so keep your worthless comments with yourself, you can sure comment on Article but not on person. I am not “Brand” lover, I compare Apples with Apples, I have Xiaomi Redme 4a, and I can assure you, its 100 times better than Samsung A3.

        • Sadiq Qureshi

          Diamond is always a diamond and stone is always stone, you cannot compare diamond with stone, Samsung is the best selling brand with best quality, world knows Samsung, best reselling value, best display, best camera quality, and who knows Xiaomi cheap brand?

          • Xahid

            lol, the diamond you’re talking about is their Flagship phone, not cheap A3 dirt types!
            Cheap Xiaomi use Good hardware, so it is Better than samsung on low-end market.

            • Adeel

              Xahid bhai, Ek display , camera , build quality , in hand feel aur water test ho jaye ?
              Saadiq bhai ko jawab mil jaye ga ?

              • Mubashir Ahmad

                For display, camera, build quality and in-hand feel Xiaomi is better but for water test this phone has IP-68 rating whereas Redmi 4A doesn’t. Even then this doesn’t justify its price and Sadiq’s point.

                • Adeel

                  Mubashir bhai I’m not a spokesperson of Samsung but personally mujhe A series 2017 achi lagi jo shaks jo phone use karta hai wo us k liye perfect hota hai, and sorry to say mein in hand feel and build quality aur camera quality , aur display quality ko le kar ap se sehmat nhn hun, A3 ka mein nhn kahun ga kch but A5 perfect hai in every aspects.

      • Naveed Saleem

        LOL U are surely a brand lover and not specs lover at all.. I have used Samsung Note 4 & 5 as well.. surelly they are good.. but a3 is not better than Redmi 4a at all.. I am using it now as a secondary phone and i love it..

      • Rao Rizwan

        samsung S series is only one to be considered premium and worth the premium price but A and j series are over expensive phones, only have brand name with no performance to price ratio

      • Umer

        Lol, Samsung is charging more monies than standard competition just for better low light camera! I myself used s7 edge for one year before trading it against One plus 3T and can’t be happier with the decision. More Ram keeps all apps loaded and best part is the BATTERY DOES NOT DROP DURING STANDBY!!! Issue with Every samsung phone i used including Note series and S series! Battery gets worse over time!

  • Hasnu

    Looks like Samsung dayz are over like Nokia. First of all, this phone is quite costly 20k, surely any lame one can observe it… 2ndly the article is quite misleading, I thought its a sponsored one.. and then.. wowww.. 2,350 mAh is really amazing as its pretty much LOW dude..!

    Add 5k and get an Oppo F1s: Battery 3075 mAh (Non-removable), Front Camera 16MP and finally build quality surpass expectations..!

    • Naveed Saleem

      PLUS 3/4GB RAM with 32/64GB STORAGE .. :P Thnx Samsung . but you are insane :D LOL

      • Adeel

        Plus lollipop in 2017 :D
        Thanks oppo :D

  • Meena

    I don’t think that it’s price is less than 30000 because writer has copy this post from Indian website

    • Hasnu

      You are right dude, its price is above 30k. I just got a quote as below:

      Samsung Galaxy A3 2016: 25.5k
      Samsung Galaxy A3 2017: 37.5k

      Thats insane, I would suggest buying Oppo F3 Plus with 4000mAh battery, VOOC Flash Charge, 4k Video Support, Front Camera Dual Tone Flash, FingerPrint sensor and Full HD 1080p display. Far far more better price tag, World’s most powerful Qualcom MSM8976 Pro chipset and 4GB RAM.

      • Naveed Saleem

        LOL PAYING 37.5K for A3 2017 with 2GB RAM & 16GB .. I guess My Redmi 4A is better :D Thanx Samsung but no thanks.. :P

    • Syed Talal

      It’s an original review so I’d like to see your source for your claim that it’s ‘copied’.

    • Mubashir Ahmad

      link?

  • Umer

    If Samsung doesn’t change their attitude then Xiaomi will reign supreme within the next couple of years in smartphone market. Wait and Watch!

  • Saqeef Iqbal

    Just buy a Xiaomi. Seriously though. You can get Xiaomi’s flagship Mi 5S, for the same if not a cheaper price on aliexpress. The same sensor as the Google Pixel, SD 821, ultrasonic fingerprint reader and awesome metal and glass build, what’s not to like?