Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review: Bite-sized

Bite-sized

GSMArena team, 16 January 2017.

Introduction

Samsung was a prime culprit in the growth of smartphone screen sizes, but back in 2014 it tried something different with the Galaxy Alpha - it offered a high-end phone in a small scale body. We feel that the Galaxy A3 is the Alpha's spiritual successor and we're here to look at the third iteration.

The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) is the baby of the lineup in terms of screen size - just 4.7" big. It is a Super AMOLED unit, mind you, and one with an Always On Display, something the similarly-sized iPhone 7 screen does not offer.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review

Another first for the A-series is the top-level waterproofing - the IP68 rating is as high as flagships get (and higher than the iPhone's). Samsung also brought its mobile payment solution, Samsung Pay, backed by a fingerprint reader.

Key features:

  • Body: waterproof body (IP68) with a metal frame and Gorilla Glass front and back
  • Screen: 4.7" Super AMOLED with 720 x 1,280px resolution (312ppi); Always On Display
  • Camera: 13MP f/1.9 with LED flash; 1080p @ 30fps video capture
  • Selfie cam: 8MP f/1.9; 1080p @ 30fps video capture
  • OS: Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow with TouchWiz; 7.0 Nougat update in the works
  • Chipset: Exynos 7870 Octa; octa-core Cortex-A53 CPU (1.6GHz); Mali-T830
  • Memory: 2GB of RAM; 16GB storage; microSD slot (dedicated or hybrid, region dependent)
  • Battery: 2,350mAh Li-Po (sealed); Fast charging
  • Connectivity: Optional dual-SIM; LTE-A (Cat. 6 300/50Mbps); USB-C; Wi-Fi a/b/g/n/ac; FM radio
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader; Samsung Pay

Main shortcomings:

  • Hybrid SIM/microSD slot limits options
  • Only 16GB storage version available (of which you get to use less than 10GB)
  • The camera is one of the few mid-range components on this phone
  • The chipset is the other one

Upgrades over last year's model:

  • Waterproofing (IP68)
  • Always On Display
  • Fingerprint reader with Samsung Pay support
  • 8MP selfie camera
  • Octa-core CPU (vs. quad-core), a bit more RAM (2GB vs. 1.5GB)
  • USB-C port
  • The price has gone up too (from ~€200 to ~€300)

The Galaxy Alpha was a premium device that was positioned to target the iPhone directly while the Galaxy A3 (2017) fights the Apple flagship from an affordable price point (less than half the cost of an iPhone 7!). At a glance, it seems the camera will be critical - the lack of OIS and 2160p video capture hurt A3's premium standing. Processing power is the other thing we need to have a closer look at.

Of course, this phone has enemies on the Android side but not that many. The Sony Xperia X Compact promises similar specs at similar price (with some trade-offs, of course). There's little else - Android makers left the sub-5" segment behind and rarely looked back.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): Black Sky - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): Blue Mist - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): Peach Cloud - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): Gold Sand - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017): Black Sky • Blue Mist • Peach Cloud • Gold Sand

We find the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) exciting precisely because it explores a sparsely populated niche. And if there's one marketing department - other than Apple's - that can convince people that compact phones are hot, it's Samsung's. So, future hit or the runt of the A-series litter?

Note that this review is based on a pre-production unit. We'll update the review findings as soon as we get our hands on a retail unit.

Reader comments

  • Economist

That phone is the best midranger, compared to the 2020 A-series. New A-series are useless crap made to work not more than a year. A3 2017 was one of the last reliable samsung phones. I hope one day samsung will start producing useful and practical ph...

  • Anonymous

Replace the battery?

  • Clemens

GPS doens`t work mostly. Many others have same problem.