Notebookcheck

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) Smartphone Review

Andreas Kilian (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 03/05/2016

Feels good. The special feature of the former model was its aluminum unibody casing. Samsung now uses more glass in the new iteration. The screen of the mid-range smartphone has also been modified: It has a higher resolution while providing more space at the same time. An overall successful design?

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Samsung Galaxy A3 teaser image

For the original German review, see here.

Like the previous smartphones of the Galaxy A lineup, the new Galaxy A3 wants to stand out from its mid-range rivals with a special design and high-quality build. It is available in black, white, gold and rose gold in Germany. All have 16 GB of storage, 1.5 GB of RAM and the option of expanding the storage via a micro-SD card in common. While the German review sample only supports one nano-SIM card, a dual-SIM model of the A3 is available in other markets.

Listed at a price of 329 Euros (~$362), the smartphone is a bit more expensive than many other mid-range models. However, it could be purchased for about 280 Euros (~$308) at test time. Rivals with an equally sized screen are rare in this price range. Besides the direct predecessor, Wiko's Highway Pure can be counted to them, for example. Handsets with a 5-inch screen, such as Huawei's P8 lite, Motorola's Moto G, or Oneplus' X play in the same league. The Galaxy A3 also finds opponents in its own ranks from Samsung's Galaxy S5 Neo that has dropped in price considerably. Our in-depth review reveals how well the handset fares in this scenery.

Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
Processor
Graphics adapter
Memory
1536 MB 
Display
4.7 inch 16:9, 1280x720 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, Super AMOLED, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, 10.7 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm headset jack, Card Reader: micro-SD max. 128 GB, NFC, Brightness Sensor, Sensors: accelerometer, proximity sensor, pedometer, gyroscope, compass, WiFi Direct, DLNA, MirrorLink, USB-OTG, nano-SIM
Networking
802.11 b/g/n (b/g/n), Bluetooth 4.1, GSM quad-band (850/900/1800/1900 MHz), 3G quad-band (850/900/1900/2100), LTE (B1/B3/B5/B7/B8/B20/B40) Cat.4 (max. 150 Mbit/s download & 50 Mbit/s upload), SAR body: 0.492 W/kg, SAR head: 0.621 W/kg, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 7.4 x 134.5 x 65.2 ( = 0.29 x 5.3 x 2.57 in)
Battery
9 Wh, 2300 mAh
Operating System
Android 5.1 Lollipop
Camera
Primary Camera: 13 MPix (auto focus f/1.9, 1080p videos @ 30 FPS)
Secondary Camera: 5 MPix (fix focus f/1.9, 1080p videos @ 30 FPS
Additional features
Speakers: mono speaker lower edge, Keyboard: virtual, power supply, USB cable, in-ear headset, slot tool, Microsoft Office, Galaxy apps, MyGalaxy, Smart Manager, Samsung KNOX, S-Voice, 24 Months Warranty, fanless
Weight
131 g ( = 4.62 oz / 0.29 pounds), Power Supply: 57 g ( = 2.01 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
329 EUR

 

Case

Although the new Galaxy A3's 4.71-inch screen is bigger than that of the former model, it is only a bit over 4 millimeters longer. Its width (65.2 millimeters) and height (7.7 millimeters) have hardly changed. It is thus still much more compact than its rivals with 5-inch screens.

In contrast to the dominating aluminum material used on the back of last year's Galaxy A3, it is made of Gorilla Glass in the new edition. The transitions to the metal lateral parts have been rounded, giving it a pleasant texture. The handset thus feels like it is one single part despite the different materials. The build is also on a very high level and is not in any way inferior to many premium-range models. However, a drawback of this design is that the casing's front and back are very sleek, and the smartphone easily slips from slanted surfaces. Also, very fine scratches appeared on our review sample despite careful handling.

The choice of materials also has an unfavorable effect on the weight. Compared with the predecessor, it has increased by 21 grams to 131 grams - the much bigger Huawei P8 lite is only 2 grams heavier. That, however, also contributes to the sensation of holding a particularly high-quality device in our hands.

The new Galaxy A3's stiffness is noticed very positively. It defies bending and warping attempts with flying colors, and without producing noises. Additionally, pressure on the back or front does not cause any distortions in displayed content.

Connectivity

The storage capacity has not changed compared with last year's model. The device is still only available with 16 GB internal storage. Only approximately 10.7 GB of that is left for personal use. However, it can always be expanded via a micro-SD card as usual. Cards with a size of up to 128 GB can be used officially. It is also convenient that the memory card can be hot-swapped. Beyond that, the smartphone supports App2SD.

The interfaces have not been modified, either. Audio signals are transmitted via the 3.5 mm headset jack and a micro-USB port is present for data sharing. The latter supports USB-OTG, but not image output via MHL.

Although the handset can communicate via Wi-Fi Direct, it does not support Miracast. Media streaming via DLNA functioned in the local network without issues. An FM radio is also integrated.

It is too bad that Samsung does not install a dedicated notification LED. Users who do not want to miss this feature can simulate this on the AMOLED screen via third-party apps.

Left: volume buttons
Left: volume buttons
Right: card slot, power button
Right: card slot, power button
Upper edge: microphone
Upper edge: microphone
Lower edge: 3.5 mm headset jack, micro-USB port, speaker, microphone
Lower edge: 3.5 mm headset jack, micro-USB port, speaker, microphone

Software

The Android 5.1.1 operating system that Samsung covers with its TouchWiz user interface is installed. When or whether it will be updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow is not known. However, a firmware update to version A310FXXU1APB7 was offered shortly after the test began, and all benchmarks and battery life tests were performed with it.

Samsung has made some modifications in the user interface. For example, a news-feed screen (Flipboard Briefing) is on the home screen's left by standard, but which can be faded out. A themes manager for adapting the operating system's appearance is also installed. Furthermore, the so-called Smart-Stay feature was enabled by default. It detects the user's face and prevents the screen from turning off regardless of the screen's timeout setting.

We also favorably noticed that Samsung only preloads very few third-party apps. Among them we only find Microsoft's Office apps that cannot be uninstalled but disabled.

Lock screen
Home screen
App drawer
Home screen customization
Quick settings
Overview of recently opened apps
Themes
Software version
Stagefright Detector
GPS indoors
GPS indoors
GPS in a supermarket
GPS in a supermarket
GPS outdoors
GPS outdoors

Communication & GPS

The new Galaxy A3 only offers the standards in terms of Wi-Fi connectivity. The smartphone only supports 2.4 GHz frequencies, excluding connections to 5 GHz networks. The maximum gross data rate in the author's test setup was 72 Mbit/s (1 antenna, 20 MHz bandwidth) in conjunction with an Asus RT-AC56U router. The reception was on an average level. The smartphone's wireless module supports all frequencies common in Germany as well as LTE Cat.4 (max. 150 Mbit/s download & 50 Mbit/s upload). Bluetooth version 4.1 and NFC are installed for wireless near field communication.

The integrated GPS module very quickly found the actual position outdoors. The reception was barely affected even in many indoor areas, such as a ground-level supermarket. Then again, a stable reception was no longer possible far from a window in an apartment in the third story of a 4-story apartment building. To find out how the handset fares in real-world use, we recorded a route with both the Garmin Edge 500 GPS bike navigation system and the Galaxy A3. Although the area of the railway underpass shows that the smartphone tends to straighten difficult sections, the Garmin navigation system also had some problems. Although its recorded route is clearly not as straight, it consistently deviates a few meters from the actual route to begin with. Since the smartphone does not exhibit any major discrepancies, it should be sufficient for navigating purposes.

Garmin Edge 500 - route
Garmin Edge 500 - route
Garmin Edge 500 - underpass
Garmin Edge 500 - underpass
Garmin Edge 500 - section
Garmin Edge 500 - section
Samsung Galaxy A3 - route
Samsung Galaxy A3 - route
Samsung Galaxy A3 - underpass
Samsung Galaxy A3 - underpass
Samsung Galaxy A3 - section
Samsung Galaxy A3 - section

Telephone & Call Quality

The Galaxy A3's phone app offers the standard features, such as favorites, a call list and directly accessing the phonebook. A keypad also fades in by default when it is opened.

The call quality was throughout convincing in test calls via the 3G network of the German Telecom. The voice quality was impeccable on both sides during normal calls using the earpiece with its very high volume settings as well as when using the included headset. There was no interference and background noises like traffic were suppressed well. Although the contact perceived the voice of the Galaxy A3 user as marginally quieter in a direct comparison, the sound quality did not suffer. Only the averagely high maximum volume of the smartphone's speaker could lead to problems in noisier environments.

Front-facing camera (click for original)
Front-facing camera (click for original)
Primary camera (click for original)
Primary camera (click for original)
Video screenshot (primary camera)
Video screenshot (primary camera)

Cameras & Multimedia

The primary camera in the new Galaxy A3 has a resolution of 13 megapixels and offers an aperture of f/1.9. That is a clear improvement over the predecessor that was furnished with an 8-megapixel camera - at least in terms of resolution. However, most rivals now feature an equally good configuration. It is positive that the camera unit only juts out of the casing by approximately 0.8 millimeters, making it possible to place the handset quite stably on its back.

The photos are compelling in bright conditions: Their sharpness, noise behavior and illumination are good (scene 1). However, looking closer at the photos reveals a slight haziness in both upper corners that is, however, only noticed on specific objects. The image quality is poorer in difficult situations - for example in twilight or dim rooms. The image noise then also increases in dark areas (scene 3). Additionally, the occasional blurred photo will be inevitable under these circumstances due to the lack of an optical image stabilizer. The relatively sluggish auto-focus that does not always function accurately in low-light conditions makes things more difficult since it has obvious problems focusing objects. Fortunately, the bright LED flash can lessen the problem a bit - at least in the near field.

The primary camera records videos in at most the Full HD resolution and 30 frames per second. The image quality is very decent, but the auto-focus is also often sluggish here particularly when the scene changes quickly or in difficult light conditions.

The front-facing camera with fixed focus has a resolution of 5 megapixels and provides useful results in good ambient light conditions. However, the photos blur as soon as less light falls on the sensor. It also records videos in the Full HD resolution at 30 frames per second.

The camera's software allows choosing between an "Auto" and "Pro" mode with extra settings, among other things. HDR photos are only possible via a special mode. It is handy that the camera app can be opened directly from standby by double-tapping the home button.

Camera software: Auto mode
Camera software: Auto mode
Camera software: Pro mode
Camera software: Pro mode
Camera software: Mode options
Camera software: Mode options

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the zoom step. One click on the zoomed-in image opens the original in a new window. The first image shows the scaled photograph of the test device.

Scene 1Scene 2Scene 3
Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors are displayed in the lower half of each patch.
Screenshot of ColorChecker colors. Original colors are displayed in the lower half of each patch.

Color Accuracy & Sharpness

To test the color accuracy of the Galaxy A3's primary camera, we compare the screenshot of the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport taken under controlled light conditions with the factual reference colors. The pictures are not edited afterwards, e.g. manual white balance.

The comparison shows that the smartphone almost consistently tends to oversaturate colors as well as slightly increase the brightness. The latter is also true for the medium grayscale levels.

To evaluate the image sharpness, we photographed our test chart as full-frame as possible in defined light conditions. The sharpness decrease particularly in the left upper edge, which was already noticed in the real-world photos, is seen again. The reproduction in the image's center is very decent, and even the iPhone 6S is defeated in terms of resolution here.

Samsung Galaxy A3 - Section of test picture
Samsung Galaxy A3
Allview E4 - Section of test picture
Allview E4
Honor 7 - Section of test picture
Honor 7
Google Nexus 5X - Section of test picture
Google Nexus 5X
Apple iPhone 6S - Section of test picture
Apple iPhone 6S
Samsung Galaxy A3 - test picture
Samsung Galaxy A3 - test picture

Accessories

In addition to the compulsory brochures that include a quick-start guide and warranty conditions, the review sample was shipped with a tool for opening the card slot and a 7.75 watt plug (1.55 A / 5 V) and the corresponding micro-USB cable. Beyond that, a white in-ear headset was included. The manufacturer offers a Flip Cover and a transparent Clear Cover specifically made for the Galaxy A3 at 29.90 Euros (~$32) each.

Warranty

Samsung's warranty covers a period of 24 months. That, however, excludes the battery where a 12-month warranty is stated.

Input Devices & Handling

The review sample's touchscreen protected by Gorilla Glass responds very accurately to inputs and detects the lightest touch reliably. The glass surface has an especially pleasing feel thanks to its rounded lateral edges. The onscreen keyboard can also be used well although the room for it is smaller than in smartphones with bigger screens. Samsung's standard keyboard also supports word suggestions and swiping. The latter has to first be enabled in the settings.

The touch buttons below the screen also do a reliable job. They are backlit for approximately one-and-a-half seconds after an input. All physical keys, i.e. power button, both volume controls and home button, have a crisp pressure point and firm fit. They thus contribute to the smartphone's high-quality looks.

Generally, the operating system mostly responded to the user's inputs without lags. It sometimes only took a moment for opening a function when larger apps were closed or updates ran in the background. The image rotated quickly when turning the smartphone.

Keyboard horizontal
Keyboard horizontal
Keyboard vertical
Keyboard vertical

Display

Subpixel grid
Subpixel grid

Samsung's new Galaxy A3 sports a 4.71-inch Super AMOLED panel with a resolution of 1280x720 pixels. The resulting pixel density of 312 PPI is higher than that of last year's model (245 PPI) despite the bigger screen diagonal. The review sample thus places itself between those rivals with 294 to 441 PPI. However, pixel structures and light color fringing are very visible when looking close at content despite this sufficiently high pixel density. Color fringing could particularly appear at the edges of homogeneously colored surfaces. This minor shortcoming will unlikely be noticed in routine use.

The review sample achieves a brightness of 386 cd/m² in the center on a pure white screen. That seems to be a step backward compared with the precursor's 434 cd/m² at first. However, our more significant measurements with equally distributed bright and dark areas on the screen (Average Picture Level / APL 50) reveals that the new Galaxy A3 still has some reserves. We ascertained a maximum of 466 cd/m². The smartphone even shines with up to 659 cd/m² when the light sensor is enabled. The device additionally benefits from the AMOLED panel's rich black level that leads to a very high contrast both subjectively and objectively.

427
cd/m²
392
cd/m²
381
cd/m²
414
cd/m²
386
cd/m²
374
cd/m²
412
cd/m²
387
cd/m²
376
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 427 cd/m² Average: 394.3 cd/m² Minimum: 2.13 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 386 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 1.11 | 1.01-23.34 Ø6.8
ΔE Greyscale 1.34 | 0.79-16.8 Ø7
Gamma: 2.12
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
1280x720 px 4.71'' (AMOLED)
Samsung Galaxy A3
940x540 px px 4.5'' (AMOLED)
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
1280x720 px 5.0'' (IPS)
OnePlus X
1920x1080 px 5.0'' (AMOLED)
Huawei P8 lite
1280x720 px 5.0'' (IPS)
Wiko Highway Pure
1280x720 px 4.8'' (AMOLED)
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
1920x1080 px 5.1'' (AMOLED)
Screen
-49%
-82%
-194%
-139%
-192%
-57%
Brightness394433
10%
407
3%
314
-20%
353
-10%
298
-24%
341
-13%
Brightness Distribution8896
9%
95
8%
91
3%
93
6%
96
9%
91
3%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *1.112.98
-168%
3.92
-253%
6.28
-466%
5.2
-368%
6.81
-514%
2.84
-156%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *1.342.68
-100%
3.81
-184%
8.24
-515%
5.85
-337%
7.53
-462%
2.91
-117%
Gamma *2.122.442.272.122.172.152.01
CCT64416603
3%
7361
14%
8145
26%
7252
13%
8348
30%
6432
0%
Black Level *0.490.42
Contrast853869
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)70.86
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)91.25

* ... smaller is better

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 240.4 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 240.4 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) .

The frequency of 240.4 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

In comparison: 56 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 550 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 10420) Hz was measured.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
9 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 4 ms rise
↘ 5 ms fall
The screen shows fast response rates in our tests and should be suited for gaming.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 3 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (28.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
7 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 3 ms rise
↘ 4 ms fall
The screen shows very fast response rates in our tests and should be very well suited for fast-paced gaming.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 172 (maximum) ms. » 1 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (43.4 ms).

Like many Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy A3 has several color profiles for the user to choose from. "Basic" mode offers the most accurate color reproduction in the sRGB color space: With an average DeltaE shift of 1.34 in grayscale and 1.11 in colors (ideal range: <3), the new Galaxy A3 can clearly outclass all comparison devices and even some considerably more expensive smartphones like the iPhone 6S. The shifts in "Photo" mode focused on the AdobeRGB color space are also within tight limits. That looks different in "Cinema" mode that primarily relies on much higher saturated colors and also has a much cooler color temperature with 7278 K than both other modes (ideal rate: 6500 K; "Basic" 6441 K; "Cinema": 6404 K). Users who do not want to think about the color reproduction can simply leave it up to automatic mode set by default.

Grayscale (Profile: Basic, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (Profile: Basic, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (Profile: Photo, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (Profile: Photo, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (Profile: Cinema, target color space sRGB)
Grayscale (Profile: Cinema, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (Profile: Basic, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (Profile: Basic, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (Profile: Photo, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (Profile: Photo, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (Profile: Cinema, target color space sRGB)
ColorChecker (Profile: Cinema, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (Profile: Basic, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (Profile: Basic, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (Profile: Photo, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (Profile: Photo, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (Profile: Cinema, target color space sRGB)
Saturation Sweeps (Profile: Cinema, target color space sRGB)
Colorspace (Profile: Basic, target color space AdobeRGB)
Colorspace (Profile: Basic, target color space AdobeRGB)
Colorspace (Profile: Photo, target color space AdobeRGB)
Colorspace (Profile: Photo, target color space AdobeRGB)
Colorspace (Profile: Cinema, target color space AdobeRGB)
Colorspace (Profile: Cinema, target color space AdobeRGB)

The Galaxy A3 can show its strengths in outdoor use. Thanks to the bright, high-contrast AMOLED panel, content can be recognized well even in direct sunlight.

Outdoors in the shade
Outdoors in the shade
Outdoors in the sun
Outdoors in the sun
Outdoors in the sun with reflections
Outdoors in the sun with reflections

The viewing-angle stability of the installed screen is very good as is typical for AMOLED. Inverting is not an issue due to the construction, and the brightness decrease when looking at the screen from the side is marginal. However, a minor drop in color temperature towards cooler colors then becomes visible.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles
Discussion

Performance

While last year's model featured a Qualcomm SoC, the new Galaxy A3 sports a chip by Samsung. The new Exynos 7578 quad-core processor has four Cortex A53 cores that clock at a maximum of 1.5 GHz. Like the predecessor, it finds support in a rather scanty 1.5 GB of working memory. Apart from Motorola's Moto G, the comparison devices all have more to offer here. An ARM Mali T720 GPU is responsible for video output.

The review sample holds its ground quite well despite these relatively weak-looking components on paper: While it at least can keep the Snapdragon 410 SoC based rival in check in the AnTuTu benchmark and Geekbench 3, it can even outperform Huawei's P8 lite furnished with an octa-core processor in PCMark. The new Galaxy A3 also looks impressive in the graphics benchmarks.

Although defeated by OnePlus X and the Galaxy S5 Neo in the offscreen tests of 3DMark and GFXBench, the latter is even surpassed in the onscreen benchmarks thanks to its screen's lower resolution. Thus, Samsung's new Exynos 7578 SoC does not ensure any new best rates in the comparison with the rivals, but it can hold its own well especially in the graphics tests.

AnTuTu Benchmark v5 - Total Score
OnePlus X
40256 Points ∼50% +27%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
37854 Points ∼47% +19%
Huawei P8 lite
34247 Points ∼42% +8%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
31762 Points ∼39%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
23242 Points ∼29% -27%
Wiko Highway Pure
21063 Points ∼26% -34%
Geekbench 3
64 Bit Single-Core Score
Huawei P8 lite
588 Points ∼12%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
526 Points ∼11%
64 Bit Multi-Core Score
Huawei P8 lite
2754 Points ∼14%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
1561 Points ∼8%
32 Bit Single-Core Score
OnePlus X
913 Points ∼20% +30%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
721 Points ∼15% +3%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
703 Points ∼15%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
528 Points ∼11% -25%
Wiko Highway Pure
482 Points ∼10% -31%
Samsung Galaxy A3
474 Points ∼10% -33%
32 Bit Multi-Core Score
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
3330 Points ∼20% +51%
OnePlus X
2570 Points ∼16% +17%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
2201 Points ∼13%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
1563 Points ∼10% -29%
Wiko Highway Pure
1429 Points ∼9% -35%
Samsung Galaxy A3
1409 Points ∼9% -36%
Linpack Android / IOS
Single Thread
OnePlus X
425.55 MFLOPS ∼42% +371%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
117.086 MFLOPS ∼11% +29%
Wiko Highway Pure
105 MFLOPS ∼10% +16%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
95.591 MFLOPS ∼9% +6%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
90.438 MFLOPS ∼9%
Multi Thread
OnePlus X
634.085 MFLOPS ∼21% +164%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
247.675 MFLOPS ∼8% +3%
Wiko Highway Pure
240 MFLOPS ∼8% 0%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
239.951 MFLOPS ∼8%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
207.718 MFLOPS ∼7% -13%
BaseMark OS II
Overall
OnePlus X
1252 Points ∼38% +89%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
808 Points ∼25% +22%
Huawei P8 lite
687 Points ∼21% +4%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
662 Points ∼20%
Wiko Highway Pure
551 Points ∼17% -17%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
515 Points ∼16% -22%
System
OnePlus X
2225 Points ∼36% +61%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
2095 Points ∼34% +52%
Huawei P8 lite
1467 Points ∼24% +6%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
1380 Points ∼22%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
1166 Points ∼19% -16%
Wiko Highway Pure
1030 Points ∼17% -25%
Memory
Huawei P8 lite
816 Points ∼31% +84%
OnePlus X
662 Points ∼25% +49%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
569 Points ∼22% +28%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
443 Points ∼17%
Wiko Highway Pure
434 Points ∼17% -2%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
394 Points ∼15% -11%
Graphics
OnePlus X
1975 Points ∼23% +376%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
488 Points ∼6% +18%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
415 Points ∼5%
Wiko Highway Pure
324 Points ∼4% -22%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
315 Points ∼4% -24%
Huawei P8 lite
303 Points ∼4% -27%
Web
OnePlus X
843 Points ∼67% +12%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
756 Points ∼60%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
733 Points ∼58% -3%
Wiko Highway Pure
637 Points ∼50% -16%
Huawei P8 lite
616 Points ∼49% -19%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
484 Points ∼38% -36%
Smartbench 2012
Productivity Index
OnePlus X
9286 points ∼49% +63%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
6719 points ∼36% +18%
Wiko Highway Pure
6307 points ∼33% +11%
Samsung Galaxy A3
6034 points ∼32% +6%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
5706 points ∼30%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
4962 points ∼26% -13%
Huawei P8 lite
2941 points ∼16% -48%
Gaming Index
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4368 points ∼95%
OnePlus X
4069 points ∼88% -7%
Samsung Galaxy A3
3862 points ∼84% -12%
Huawei P8 lite
3753 points ∼82% -14%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
3500 points ∼76% -20%
Wiko Highway Pure
3295 points ∼72% -25%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
3234 points ∼70% -26%
PCMark for Android - Work performance score
OnePlus X
4450 Points ∼55% +10%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
4134 Points ∼51% +2%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4051 Points ∼50%
Huawei P8 lite
3717 Points ∼46% -8%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541 (Android 5.1.1 Lollipop)
3701 Points ∼46% -9%
Wiko Highway Pure
3216 Points ∼40% -21%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16
OnePlus X
23 fps ∼38% +15%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
20 fps ∼33%
Huawei P8 lite
15.3 fps ∼26% -23%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
14 fps ∼23% -30%
Samsung Galaxy A3
13 fps ∼22% -35%
Wiko Highway Pure
10 fps ∼17% -50%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
9.5 fps ∼16% -52%
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16
OnePlus X
21 fps ∼2% +75%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
14 fps ∼2% +17%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
12 fps ∼1%
Huawei P8 lite
9.9 fps ∼1% -17%
Samsung Galaxy A3
5.3 fps ∼1% -56%
Wiko Highway Pure
5.3 fps ∼1% -56%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
5.3 fps ∼1% -56%
GFXBench 3.0
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL
OnePlus X
10 fps ∼13% +19%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
8.4 fps ∼11%
Samsung Galaxy A3
6.4 fps ∼9% -24%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
4.8 fps ∼6% -43%
Wiko Highway Pure
4.2 fps ∼6% -50%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
3.7 fps ∼5% -56%
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL
OnePlus X
8.6 fps ∼2% +110%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
4.8 fps ∼1% +17%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4.1 fps ∼1%
Samsung Galaxy A3
1.8 fps ∼0% -56%
Wiko Highway Pure
1.8 fps ∼0% -56%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
1.7 fps ∼0% -59%
3DMark (2013)
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Score
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
5090 Points ∼3% +11%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
4585 Points ∼3%
Huawei P8 lite
4138 Points ∼3% -10%
Wiko Highway Pure
2679 Points ∼2% -42%
Samsung Galaxy A3
2646 Points ∼2% -42%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
2580 Points ∼2% -44%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
4449 Points ∼1% +13%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
3937 Points ∼1%
Huawei P8 lite
3676 Points ∼1% -7%
Wiko Highway Pure
2230 Points ∼1% -43%
Samsung Galaxy A3
2207 Points ∼1% -44%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
2135 Points ∼1% -46%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Physics
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
10827 Points ∼17%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
10270 Points ∼17% -5%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
9544 Points ∼15% -12%
Wiko Highway Pure
8877 Points ∼14% -18%
Samsung Galaxy A3
8700 Points ∼14% -20%
Huawei P8 lite
7399 Points ∼12% -32%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score
OnePlus X
15051 Points ∼8% +108%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
8030 Points ∼4% +11%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
7229 Points ∼4%
Huawei P8 lite
5629 Points ∼3% -22%
Samsung Galaxy A3
4505 Points ∼2% -38%
Wiko Highway Pure
4440 Points ∼2% -39%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
4402 Points ∼2% -39%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score
OnePlus X
14541 Points ∼3% +123%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
7536 Points ∼2% +16%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
6522 Points ∼1%
Huawei P8 lite
5167 Points ∼1% -21%
Samsung Galaxy A3
3939 Points ∼1% -40%
Wiko Highway Pure
3872 Points ∼1% -41%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
3789 Points ∼1% -42%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics
OnePlus X
17156 Points ∼27% +47%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
11653 Points ∼18%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
10424 Points ∼16% -11%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
10148 Points ∼16% -13%
Wiko Highway Pure
9152 Points ∼14% -21%
Samsung Galaxy A3
9071 Points ∼14% -22%
Huawei P8 lite
8206 Points ∼13% -30%

Legend

 
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 Samsung Exynos 7578, ARM Mali-T720 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy A3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541 Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 8 GB eMMC Flash
 
OnePlus X Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 MSM8974AA, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei P8 lite HiSilicon Kirin 620, ARM Mali-450 MP4, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Wiko Highway Pure Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo Samsung Exynos 7580 Octa, ARM Mali-T720 MP2, 16 GB eMMC Flash

It looks similar in the browser tests. The Galaxy A3 again places itself in the upper midfield but is almost always defeated by OnePlus X with its high-end Snapdragon 801 SoC and its somewhat more expensive Galaxy S5 Neo sister model.

Octane V2 - Total Score
OnePlus X (Chrome 46)
4810 Points ∼11%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo (Chrome 38)
3627 Points ∼8%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (Chrome 48)
3566 Points ∼8%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541 (Chrome 44)
3296 Points ∼7%
Wiko Highway Pure (Chrome 43)
2864 Points ∼6%
Samsung Galaxy A3
2782 Points ∼6%
Huawei P8 lite (Stock Browser)
2483 Points ∼5%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score
Huawei P8 lite (Chrome 43)
1985.6 ms * ∼49%
Wiko Highway Pure (Chrome 43)
1639 ms * ∼41%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541 (Chrome 44)
1573.1 ms * ∼39%
OnePlus X (Chrome 46)
1509.1 ms * ∼37%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (Chrome 48)
1413 ms * ∼35%
Samsung Galaxy A3
1330 ms * ∼33%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo (Chrome 38)
735 ms * ∼18%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score
Huawei P8 lite (Stock Browser)
15866 ms * ∼27%
Samsung Galaxy A3
13998 ms * ∼24%
Wiko Highway Pure (Chrome 43)
13234 ms * ∼22%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541 (Chrome 44)
11843 ms * ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (Chrome 48)
11796.2 ms * ∼20%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo (Chrome 38)
11603.4 ms * ∼20%
OnePlus X (Chrome 46)
7264.1 ms * ∼12%
WebXPRT 2015 - Overall Score
OnePlus X (Chrome 46)
85 Points ∼15%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo (Chrome 38)
68 Points ∼12%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (Chrome 48)
64 Points ∼11%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541 (Chrome 44)
52 Points ∼9%
Huawei P8 lite (Chrome 43)
47 Points ∼8%
Wiko Highway Pure
46 Points ∼8%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score
OnePlus X (Chrome 46)
5328 Points ∼27%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo (Chrome 38)
3765 Points ∼19%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (Chrome 48)
3499 Points ∼18%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541 (Chrome 44)
3125 Points ∼16%
Wiko Highway Pure (Chrome 43)
2852 Points ∼15%
Samsung Galaxy A3
2832 Points ∼14%
Huawei P8 lite (Stock Browser)
2352 Points ∼12%
JetStream 1.1 - 1.1 Total Score
OnePlus X (Chrome 46)
28 Points ∼10%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo (Chrome 38)
23.097 Points ∼9%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 (Chrome 48)
22.1 Points ∼8%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541 (Chrome 44)
20.832 Points ∼8%

* ... smaller is better

While the review sample usually places itself in the midfield in the storage benchmarks, it shows a clear weakness in sequential write. It only takes second-last place with 27.27 MB/s. The predecessor can claim the first place with 71 MB/s. However, the read performance - in particular random read of small data blocks - has been considerably improved.

We also tested the micro-SD slot's speed with our Toshiba Exceria SD-CX32UHS1 reference card (UHs-I Class 3, max. read: 85 MB/s, max. write: 50 MB/s). The achieved 80.24 MB/s in sequential read and 36.47 MB/s in sequential write are very good. The interface is considerably weaker in random read (11.21 MB/s) and random write (0.12 MB/s) as is typical for smartphones.

AndroBench 3
Sequential Read 256KB
OnePlus X
235.51 MB/s ∼48%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
215.86 MB/s ∼44%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
168.79 MB/s ∼35%
Huawei P8 lite
139.48 MB/s ∼29%
Samsung Galaxy A3
132 MB/s ∼27%
Wiko Highway Pure
132 MB/s ∼27%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
131.42 MB/s ∼27%
Sequential Write 256KB
Samsung Galaxy A3
71 MB/s ∼44%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
57.92 MB/s ∼36%
Huawei P8 lite
52.79 MB/s ∼33%
OnePlus X
49.31 MB/s ∼31%
Wiko Highway Pure
39 MB/s ∼24%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
27.27 MB/s ∼17%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
22.33 MB/s ∼14%
Random Read 4KB
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
22.79 MB/s ∼23%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
22.57 MB/s ∼22%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
21.92 MB/s ∼22%
Huawei P8 lite
18.46 MB/s ∼18%
OnePlus X
16.31 MB/s ∼16%
Wiko Highway Pure
14 MB/s ∼14%
Samsung Galaxy A3
11 MB/s ∼11%
Random Write 4KB
OnePlus X
14.22 MB/s ∼30%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
11.07 MB/s ∼23%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
10.27 MB/s ∼22%
Huawei P8 lite
8.32 MB/s ∼18%
Samsung Galaxy A3
6 MB/s ∼13%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
5.11 MB/s ∼11%
Wiko Highway Pure
5 MB/s ∼11%
BaseMark OS II - Memory
Huawei P8 lite
816 Points ∼31%
OnePlus X
662 Points ∼25%
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
569 Points ∼22%
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
443 Points ∼17%
Wiko Highway Pure
434 Points ∼17%
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
394 Points ∼15%

Games

An ARM Mali T720 GPU is responsible for video output in the Galaxy A3 (2016). It does its job amazingly well: Even performance-driven games like Asphalt 8 are still smooth in high settings. The smartphone certainly benefits from its not extremely high screen resolution of 1280x720 pixels. The graphics chip would have to work harder for the same performance with a Full HD panel. Of course, games like Angry Birds 2 that do not have such high hardware requirements run smoothly on the handset.

The integrated position sensors and sensitive touchscreen also function impeccably in games.

Screenshot Asphalt 8
Screenshot Asphalt 8
Screenshot Angry Birds 2
Screenshot Angry Birds 2

Emissions

Temperature

The Galaxy A3 shines in terms of maximum heat dissipation. Idle temperatures of below 30 °C are nothing special, but the smartphone fares particularly well under load. Like the slightly bigger Galaxy S5 Neo, the review sample reaches at most a moderate 34.7 °C here. Only the direct predecessor does an even better job. OnePlus' X proves that not every smartphone can offer these low temperatures with a hot spot of 47.5 °C.

We use the battery test of GFXBench to check whether these agreeably low temperatures are not the result of a continuous performance reduction of the installed components. It runs the T-Rex test 30 times in succession and records both the available performance and battery consumption. Fortunately, the outcomes only deviate within a range of one percent point, which excludes throttling.

GFXBench: performance
GFXBench: performance
GFXBench: frame times
GFXBench: frame times
GFXBench: battery consumption
GFXBench: battery consumption
Max. Load
 34.7 °C33.4 °C31.5 °C 
 34.5 °C32.9 °C31.2 °C 
 33.7 °C32.6 °C31 °C 
Maximum: 34.7 °C
Average: 32.8 °C
31.3 °C32.5 °C33 °C
31.3 °C32.4 °C32.8 °C
30.5 °C31.1 °C31.6 °C
Maximum: 33 °C
Average: 31.8 °C
Power Supply (max.)  28.6 °C | Room Temperature 22.2 °C | Voltcraft IR-260

Speaker

Speaker characteristic
Speaker characteristic

While the speaker in last year's Galaxy A3 was still found on the rear, it is now situated on the handset's lower edge. Thus, sound is no longer impaired when the smartphone is placed on a table.

Subjectively, the sound quality is surprisingly good for a mono speaker. Music and voice are rendered quite naturally and balanced, and even some bass is audible. Tones are not distorted even at maximum volume, which could be a bit higher, though.

We measured the speaker's sound and created a Pink Noise diagram. It illustrates that the mid to high frequencies of approximately 600 Hz to 12 kHz are rendered relatively consistently. The maximum volume of 84.38 dB(A) is sufficiently high to at least fill smaller rooms with sound.

Unlike the inferior headphones found in the boxes of some mid-range devices, Samsung includes a decent headset that reaps in plus points with its vivid bass and balanced sound.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

In terms of power consumption, the review sample does a much better job than its somewhat bigger sister model Galaxy S5 Neo. Although the rates have clearly climbed compared with the Galaxy A3 from 2015, they can only be compared conditionally because we have been using a new and more accurate measuring device recently. However, OnePlus' X proves that even less is possible with better rates despite the new metrology.

The included power supply has a maximum output of 7.75 watts and completely recharges the non-removable battery with a capacity of approximately 8.7 Wh within 2 hours. The Galaxy A3 cannot offer wireless charging or Quick Charge functionality.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0 / 0.15 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.96 / 1.39 / 1.45 Watt
Load midlight 2.65 / 3.51 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Gossen Metrahit Energy

Battery Runtime

The new Galaxy A3's time has come in battery life. It is superior to the comparison devices in virtually every test. Only the Galaxy S5 Neo lasts a bit longer in full load. The comparison with Huawei's P8 lite shows just how big the advantage sometimes is: While the review sample managed a very good 14 hours and 23 minutes in video playback, the rival is depleted in not even half the time. However, it must be pointed out that the brightness is automatically dimmed at a battery state of less than 5%, and it cannot be increased manually.

Additional energy-saving mechanisms can be enabled to increase the smartphone's battery life even more. Besides the standard energy-savings mode that is to save energy via reduced performance, disabled key light and reduced frame rate frequencies, an ultra-energy-savings mode is present. It strongly limits the usability of apps and switches to grayscale display mode.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
32h 58min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
10h 28min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
14h 23min
Load (maximum brightness)
6h 16min
Samsung Galaxy A3 2016
Mali-T720 MP2, 7578, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy A3
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Motorola Moto G 3. Gen 2015 XT1541
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 8 GB eMMC Flash
OnePlus X
Adreno 330, 801 MSM8974AA, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Huawei P8 lite
Mali-450 MP4, Kirin 620, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Wiko Highway Pure
Adreno 306, 410 MSM8916, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo
Mali-T720 MP2, 7580 Octa, 16 GB eMMC Flash
Battery Runtime
-36%
-25%
-29%
-53%
-41%
-9%
Reader / Idle19781080
-45%
1364
-31%
968
-51%
715
-64%
1235
-38%
1615
-18%
Load376256
-32%
264
-30%
339
-10%
194
-48%
164
-56%
402
7%
WiFi v1.3628526
-16%
549
-13%
351
-44%
472
-25%
546
-13%
H.264863602
-30%
677
-22%
514
-40%
369
-57%
465
-46%
773
-10%
WiFi568

Pro

+ very good casing quality
+ excellent screen
+ good telephony functionality
+ accurate touchscreen
+ low temperature development
+ micro-SD slot
+ NFC & USB-OTG
+ decent speaker
+ very long battery life

Cons

- camera's low-light performance
- no notification LED
- no 5 GHz WiFi
- no Miracast or MHL support
- casing's slippery back
- non-removable battery

Verdict

In review: Samsung Galaxy A3 (SM-A310F). Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.
In review: Samsung Galaxy A3 (SM-A310F). Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.

Samsung's reiteration of the Galaxy A3 holds many advantages. One is the stiff casing's high-quality build that tactually convinces with rounded glass at the edges and a metal bezel. Drawbacks of this design are the non-removable battery and the slightly too sleek back.

However, the device has quite a bit to offer technically. The excellent screen, the option of expanding the 16 GB internal storage via micro-SD and very long battery life are primarily convincing. Qualities that many smartphone users will appreciate. While NFC is on board, the integrated Wi-Fi module unfortunately still only supports data sharing via the 2.4 band. Samsung's new quad-core SoC does not break any records, but it convinces with performance suitable for routine use in the Galaxy A3.

In contrast to that, the quality of the installed camera modules makes a mixed impression. While photos taken in good light conditions are very compelling with their decent sharpness and good resolution, less ideal conditions often cause disappointment. The sluggish and frequently inaccurate auto-focus and the tendency to underexpose the photos are aggravating here.

Samsung has created an especially high-quality mid-range smartphone that can primarily convince with an excellent screen and outstanding battery life.

Equally priced alternatives for the Galaxy A3, which have a similar screen size, are rare. Users who do not have problems with a bigger screen could take a look at, for example, the somewhat more expensive Galaxy S5 that achieved an even better total rating of 87% in our test.

Samsung Galaxy A3 2016 - 02/29/2016 v5
Andreas Kilian

Chassis
93%
Keyboard
67 / 75 → 90%
Pointing Device
89%
Connectivity
45 / 61 → 73%
Weight
94%
Battery
94%
Display
91%
Games Performance
14 / 57 → 24%
Application Performance
32 / 65 → 50%
Temperature
93%
Noise
100%
Audio
56 / 91 → 62%
Camera
65%
Average
72%
85%
Smartphone - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016) Smartphone Review
Andreas Kilian, 2016-03- 5 (Update: 2016-03- 6)