Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review: Bite-sized

GSMArena team, 16 January 2017.

Display

The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) is loaded with a 4.7" Super AMOLED screen, guarded by Gorilla Glass 4. The screen has 720p resolution, which works out to 312ppi pixel density, close enough to that of the Xperia X Compact and iPhone 7. The screen isn't as sharp, though, the Super AMOLED matrix makes a crosshatch pattern visible (not an issue with the other two phones, which use LCD).

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review

That aside, the Super AMOLED screen is still a champ when it comes to sunlight legibility and color accuracy and the A3 screen is no exception.

When setting the brightness manually, the Galaxy A3 (2017) tops out at 408nits, silghtly above what the Galaxy S7 managed. With automatic brightness, the maximum goes up to 518 nits, which is comparable with the Xperia X Compact. Overall, the screen is quite bright for an OLED (especially if you use it with Auto brightness) and can rub shoulders with premium phones.

Display test 100% brightness
Black, cd/m2 White, cd/m2 Contrast ratio
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) 0 408
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) max auto 0 518
Samsung Galaxy S7 0.00 391
Samsung Galaxy S7 max auto 0.00 563
Apple iPhone 7 0.35 561 1603
Apple iPhone 7 (max auto) 0.40 656 1640
Sony Xperia X Compact 0.44 534 1225
Huawei nova 0.25 385 1540
Oppo F1 0.46 408 897
Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime 0.475 528 1112

At minimum, the screen puts out a mere 1.8nits, which should be comfortable for reading even in pitch dark. There's an adjustable Blue light filter too so that using the phone late in the evening will not interfere with your quality of sleep (if studies are to be believed).

The sunlight legibility matched the Xperia X Compact and sits somewhat behind the iPhone 7. That's still a good deal better than many similarly priced phones and it only gets better when you enable Auto brightness mode.

Sunlight contrast ratio

  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge+
    4.615
  • Samsung Galaxy S7 edge
    4.439
  • OnePlus 3
    4.424
  • Samsung Galaxy S7
    4.376
  • HTC One A9
    4.274
  • Samsung Galaxy Note7
    4.247
  • Samsung Galaxy A3
    4.241
  • OnePlus 3T
    4.232
  • Google Pixel XL
    4.164
  • ZTE Axon 7
    4.154
  • Samsung Galaxy S6 edge
    4.124
  • Samsung Galaxy Note5
    4.09
  • Huawei Nexus 6P
    4.019
  • Vivo Xplay5 Elite
    3.983
  • OnePlus X
    3.983
  • Oppo R7s
    3.964
  • Apple iPhone 7
    3.964
  • Huawei P9 Plus
    3.956
  • Meizu Pro 6 Plus
    3.935
  • Lenovo Moto Z
    3.931
  • Samsung Galaxy A7 (2016)
    3.918
  • Samsung Galaxy C5
    3.911
  • Samsung Galaxy C7
    3.896
  • Samsung Galaxy A5
    3.895
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 outdoor
    3.879
  • Samsung Galaxy J2 outdoor
    3.873
  • Samsung Galaxy A8
    3.859
  • Samsung Galaxy A9 (2016)
    3.817
  • Motorola Moto X (2014)
    3.816
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.802
  • Xiaomi Redmi Pro
    3.798
  • LG V20 Max auto
    3.798
  • Sony Xperia XZ
    3.795
  • Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)
    3.789
  • Apple iPhone 6s
    3.783
  • Meizu Pro 5
    3.781
  • Microsoft Lumia 650
    3.772
  • Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)
    3.756
  • Oppo F1 Plus
    3.709
  • Vivo X5Pro
    3.706
  • Sony Xperia X Compact
    3.694
  • Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017)
    3.688
  • Apple iPhone SE
    3.681
  • Huawei Mate 9
    3.68
  • Samsung Galaxy A7
    3.679
  • Meizu PRO 6
    3.659
  • BlackBerry Priv
    3.645
  • Apple iPhone 7 Plus
    3.588
  • Apple iPhone 6s Plus
    3.53
  • Motorola Moto Z Play
    3.526
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)
    3.523
  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) outdoor mode
    3.523
  • Acer Jade Primo
    3.521
  • Microsoft Lumia 950
    3.512
  • Oppo R7 Plus
    3.499
  • nubia Z11
    3.466
  • Samsung Galaxy J7
    3.422
  • Meizu MX5
    3.416
  • LG V20
    3.402
  • Oppo R9s
    3.352
  • Oppo R7
    3.32
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s
    3.276
  • Samsung Galaxy J2
    3.235
  • Sony Xperia X Performance
    3.234
  • Xiaomi Mi Note 2
    3.228
  • Motorola Moto X Play
    3.222
  • Huawei P9
    3.195
  • Lenovo Vibe Shot
    3.113
  • Motorola Moto X Force
    3.105
  • LG Nexus 5X
    3.092
  • Huawei Mate S
    3.073
  • Microsoft Lumia 640 XL
    3.065
  • Sony Xperia X
    2.989
  • Huawei Mate 8
    2.949
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3S
    2.913
  • Sony Xperia XA Ultra
    2.906
  • LG G5
    2.905
  • HTC One S
    2.901
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3s Prime
    2.893
  • Xiaomi Mi 5s Plus
    2.884
  • Sony Xperia Z5
    2.876
  • Microsoft Lumia 550
    2.851
  • Lenovo Moto M
    2.813
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3 Pro
    2.803
  • Sony Xperia Z5 compact
    2.784
  • Meizu MX6
    2.751
  • LG V10
    2.744
  • Xiaomi Redmi 3
    2.735
  • Sony Xperia M5
    2.69
  • Huawei P9 Lite
    2.679
  • Xiaomi Redmi 4 Prime
    2.679
  • Vivo V3Max
    2.659
  • Xiaomi Mi Mix
    2.658
  • Xiaomi Mi 4i
    2.641
  • Sony Xperia XA
    2.609
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus
    2.582
  • Motorola Moto G4 Plus (max auto)
    2.582
  • Xiaomi Mi 4c
    2.574
  • LeEco Le Max 2
    2.567
  • Microsoft Lumia 640
    2.563
  • Asus Zenfone 3 ZE552KL
    2.563
  • Lenovo K6 Note
    2.544
  • Lenovo Moto G4
    2.544
  • Oppo F1
    2.528
  • Sony Xperia Z5 Premium
    2.525
  • Huawei Honor 7 Lite / Honor 5c
    2.506
  • Sony Xperia M4 Aqua
    2.503
  • Oppo F1s
    2.481
  • Motorola Moto G
    2.477
  • Lenovo Vibe K5 Plus
    2.473
  • Huawei G8
    2.471
  • Huawei nova
    2.467
  • Sony Xperia Z
    2.462
  • Lenovo Vibe K5
    2.459
  • Meizu m3 max
    2.447
  • Huawei Honor 7
    2.406
  • Sony Xperia E5
    2.386
  • ZUK Z1 by Lenovo
    2.382
  • Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)
    2.378
  • HTC 10
    2.378
  • Meizu m1 note
    2.362
  • Huawei nova plus
    2.329
  • HTC One E9+
    2.305
  • Alcatel One Touch Hero
    2.272
  • Apple iPhone 4S
    2.269
  • Lenovo Vibe K4 Note
    2.254
  • Sony Xperia C5 Ultra
    2.253
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 (MediaTek)
    2.249
  • Sony Xperia C4 Dual
    2.235
  • Xiaomi Mi Note
    2.234
  • Motorola Moto G (2014)
    2.233
  • Huawei P8
    2.196
  • Huawei Honor 6
    2.169
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 2
    2.166
  • OnePlus Two
    2.165
  • HTC One X
    2.158
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note 4
    2.145
  • LG Aka
    2.145
  • Archos 50 Diamond
    2.134
  • Xiaomi Redmi Note
    2.119
  • Acer Liquid X2
    2.084
  • Huawei P8lite
    2.078
  • Moto G 3rd gen max manual
    2.026
  • Xiaomi Mi Max
    1.996
  • Sony Xperia E4g
    1.972
  • OnePlus One
    1.961
  • Meizu m3 note
    1.923
  • BlackBerry Leap
    1.892
  • Meizu m2 note
    1.892
  • ZTE Nubia Z9 mini
    1.759
  • Sony Xperia U
    1.758
  • Asus Zenfone Selfie
    1.68
  • Motorola Moto E (2nd Gen)
    1.675
  • ZTE Nubia Z9
    1.659
  • Jolla Jolla
    1.605
  • Motorola Moto E
    1.545
  • Sony Xperia M
    1.473
  • HTC Desire C
    1.3
  • Sony Xperia C
    1.283
  • Meizu MX
    1.221
  • Sony Xperia E
    1.215

The default Adaptive screen setting pushes colors outside the sRGB triangle, the extra saturation and contrast this mode provides makes images pop. If you want something more accurate, you can use AMOLED Photo (average deltaE 3.7, max 7.4) or AMOLED Cinema (average 2.7, max 7.5).

Traditionally, the most accurate mode is Basic, which drops the average deltaE to an impressive 1.5. All colors are rendered at < 2 deltaE, it's the whites that push the maximum to 4 (which is still quite impressive). The small 720p screen is not perfect for photo viewing, but it will give you true to life colors if you want them (and when you want them).

There are color sliders that allow you to fine tune the display (only in Adaptive mode), but without calibration hardware you can't do better than the preset modes.

Display settings - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review Screen modes - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review Manual color balance - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review
Display settings Screen modes Manual color balance

The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) has to be among the most affordable Android phones with an Always-On Display. It is exactly as capable as that of the S7 and can show several clock designs (including ones that focus on the calendar) and notification icons from third-party apps.

Passive information is great (it was the main purpose of Google Now, for example) and we think Always-On Displays will become more common as the price of such displays falls.

Connectivity

The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) leaves no option unchecked when it comes to connectivity. It boasts LTE Cat. 6 (300/50Mbps), optional dual-SIM, fast Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Samsung Pay with NFC and MST, USB-C, there's even an FM radio. Really, only the IR blaster has been omitted.

The 300/50Mbps top LTE speed is achieved with 2 Carrier Aggregation (2CA). The Wi-Fi meanwhile uses only one channel, providing a top speed of 433Mbps. Low-power connections are available in the form of Bluetooth 4.2 LE and ANT+.

The USB-C port is wired only for USB 2.0 speed and there's no MHL support, meaning you can't use USB accessories or get wired TV out.

There's no word on aptX support (for high quality Bluetooth audio), so you may want to make good use of that wired headphone jack.

Battery life

The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) comes with a 2,350mAh battery, basically the same as its predecessor. Samsung didn't upgrade the fuel tank, but it did use a more efficient engine - the 14nm Exynos 7870 Octa chipset. From our experience, chipsets built on a 14nm fabrication process offer stellar battery life so we had our expectations high for the Galaxy A3 (2017) right from the get-go.

The official specs promise 17 hours of talk time on a 3G network, 17 hours of browsing on Wi-Fi and 17 hours again when it comes to watching videos. Our tests (done at 200nits) came quite close to those official specs. We measured better talk time, while the other two readings came in a bit short.

That's massively good battery life, very few phones offer this level of battery endurance for web and video. And most of them are huge phones with huge batteries. The iPhone 7 lasts hours - the Xperia X Compact too.

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review

Our Galaxy A3 (2017) unit came with the standard Samsung Fast Charger. Trying it out, we managed to get 37% charge (from 0%) in half an hour, which isn't particularly fast. A complete charge took 90 minutes, a pretty good pace.

The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.

Note that the 93 hour endurance rating is with the Always On Display (AOD) feature turned off. We measured 61 hours with it on, but note that this can vary quite a bit depending on how you use the phone - AOD dims in the dark and shuts off in your pocket, so your mileage will vary based on your usage pattern.

Outside of everything mentioned so far, the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) software offers a few advanced power-saving features. There are two modes, each of which can impose various limits - maximum brightness, chipset clock speed, Internet use and (of course) disable the Always On Display. You get an estimate of how much extra endurance you'll gain with each mode.

Battery features - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review Medium power saving mode - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review Maximum power saving mode - Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) review
Battery features Medium power saving mode Maximum power saving mode