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Samsung Galaxy A3 Smartphone Review

Florian Wimmer, Tanja Hinum (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 02/19/2015

A small metal gadget. Samsung uses a slim metal casing for its Galaxy A lineup and had really impressed us with the Galaxy A5, even though the voice quality was not that good. In this report we will see why the Galaxy A3 is good, but not a bargain.

In review: Samsung Galaxy A3.

For the original German review, see here.

Samsung's Galaxy A family sets new heights in the former, slightly lackluster product cycle of Galaxy smartphones. Now aluminum is used instead of polycarbonate. Samsung relies on a very slim casing, and increases the brightness of its Super AMOLED screens. However, the battery can no longer be removed. Nevertheless, this has not lessened our delight with the elegant design of the Galaxy A5 and its overall really good impression.

The smaller brother of the Galaxy A5 is the Galaxy A3. They look very similar, but the Galaxy A3 is slightly smaller. However, Samsung has axed some features. The total package, costs 300 Euros (~$341); the current street price is approximately 10% cheaper.

Most rivals in this category are slightly cheaper: Sony's Xperia M2 Aqua, for example, is even dust and waterproof. Huawei's Ascend G6 also relies on a metal casing and its slim design is a selling point. Acer's Liquid E3 and HTC's Desire 610 are other potential alternatives. The buyer will not have to invest much more in Google's Nexus 5 than in the Galaxy A3. Just how big is the difference?

Case

The metal casing is stiff and stylish
The metal casing is stiff and stylish

The aluminum unibody casing had already thrilled us in the review of the Galaxy A5. Although this type of build prevents using a removable battery, Samsung has created a very slim and elegantly designed smartphone casing for its Galaxy A series. With a height of just 6.9 millimeters (~0.27 in) the Galaxy A3 is perceptibly slimmer than most comparison devices. Only Huawei's Ascend G6 can compete with this. In addition, its weight of 110 grams (~3.9 oz) makes it one of the lightest smartphones currently on the market.

Officially, the Galaxy A3 is available in white, silver or black in Germany and Austria. However, some dealers also have the golden Galaxy A3. The light blue and pink colors are not officially available to us, but can be preordered through some dealers.

Despite the slim build and low weight, the casing's stability is very good. Pressure is not an issue for the casing, and we did not even hear the quiet cracking noise that was audible in the Galaxy A5 - great. Since the design is significantly more restrained and elegant than in former Galaxy devices, we are really excited about the Galaxy A3's casing.

142.6 mm / 5.61 inch 69.54 mm / 2.74 inch 9.66 mm / 0.3803 inch 143 g0.3153 lbs140 mm / 5.51 inch 72 mm / 2.83 inch 8.6 mm / 0.3386 inch 147 g0.3241 lbs138 mm / 5.43 inch 69 mm / 2.72 inch 8.9 mm / 0.3504 inch 135 g0.2976 lbs137.84 mm / 5.43 inch 69.17 mm / 2.72 inch 8.59 mm / 0.3382 inch 130 g0.2866 lbs130 mm / 5.12 inch 65 mm / 2.56 inch 7.5 mm / 0.2953 inch 115 g0.2535 lbs130.1 mm / 5.12 inch 65.5 mm / 2.58 inch 6.9 mm / 0.2717 inch 110 g0.2425 lbs

Connectivity

Samsung's Galaxy A3 is more expensive than most comparison devices, but it is also equipped with a more modern SoC, 16 GB of flash storage, 1.5 GB of working memory, and LTE. Furthermore, the camera equipment is decent. Overall, the Galaxy A3 gives the impression of a fair total package, particularly when considering the high-quality casing.

Software

Samsung's TouchWiz interface in the Galaxy A3 is still based on Android 4.4. However, an update to Android 5 has been announced. Samsung has preinstalled fewer free-ware apps on the Galaxy A3; the "S Planner" and "S Voice" voice control are the two most important ones. Once again, Samsung has installed adware apps from various online shops, but they can be easily uninstalled.

The operating system is clearly designed and runs smoothly. It provides the Galaxy A3 with many functions and settings. For example, "Smart Stay" is integrated, which monitors the user's eyes via the camera and leaves the screen on until the user looks away. The device can be muted by placing a hand on the screen or turning the phone around. Tapping the standby button three times sends an "SOS" message to selected contacts.

The device's storage can be encrypted, it is possible to switch to standard mode when not all features of the smartphone are needed, and many more things are available. However, one feature is missing: "Multi-window" that allows running two applications side by side in two windows on the screen.

Communication & GPS 

The Galaxy A3 connects to Wi-Fi networks with the 802.11 b/g/n standards, but only in the 2.4 GHz frequency. Reception is decent: we still had 3/4 of the starting signal through three walls and a distance of ten meters (~33 ft) to the router. Websites also still opened quickly at this point.

The Galaxy A3 is on par with the Galaxy A5 in mobile networks, and is thus superior to the majority of comparison devices. LTE Cat. 4 with speeds of up to 150 Mbit per second in downstream and 50 Mbit per second in upstream are not a matter of course in the lower mid-range. Neither is support for a total of six LTE frequencies as well as both four GPRS and UMTS frequencies.

The A-GPS module also supports the GLONASS and BeiDou networks, making satellites available virtually everywhere in the world. However, this is possible only in the outdoors because the reception quality is too weak indoors. We were located with an accuracy of up to 3 meters (~10 ft) outdoors.

We took the device and the Garmin Edge 500 on a car trip to test its navigating accuracy. The GPS module in the Galaxy A3 measured an approximately 160 meter (~175 yd) shorter route than the Garmin Edge 500. However, the devices did not display any major differences in pinpointing on the street. Neither navigation system located us perfectly, but they did not deviate too much from the driven route. In the woods the Galaxy A3 was slightly more accurate than the standalone navigation system. Thus, it is possible to confidently use the smartphone for navigating purposes.

GPS Garmin Edge 500 – overview
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – overview
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – bridge
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – bridge
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – woods
GPS Garmin Edge 500 – woods
GPS Samsung Galaxy A3 – overview
GPS Samsung Galaxy A3 – overview
GPS Samsung Galaxy A3 – bridge
GPS Samsung Galaxy A3 – bridge
GPS Samsung Galaxy A3 – woods
GPS Samsung Galaxy A3 – woods

Telephone & Voice Quality

The phone app can be used in both landscape and portrait mode, has a large keypad, and many additional options like favorite contacts and an extensive list of features for calls including a sorting function.

The voice quality is rather mediocre. In our tests, the microphone recurrently had minor interruptions. Although the speaker is quite loud, voices do not come across as clearly as expected from current premium phones. The hands-free mode was acceptable, but the microphone also occasionally dropped out.

Cameras & Multimedia

The Galaxy A3's rear-facing camera has a slightly lower resolution than its larger Galaxy A5 brother. It has "only" 8 megapixels, but still features auto focus and an LED flash. However, the front, features the same 5 megapixel selfie-camera as the Galaxy A5. The Galaxy A3 is superior to its mid-range rivals solely in terms of resolution. Only Acer's Liquid E3 has a rear-facing camera with higher resolution,  but its front-facing camera has a resolution of only 2 megapixels.

The pictures taken with the rear-facing camera exhibit a slight color fringe when zoomed in. However, their sharpness is good. Exposure is relatively high, which is probably due to the aperture's wide opening. The images look a little too bluish, but overall, the pictures are very good for a mid-range smartphone. The front-facing camera also takes decent selfies that can even be joined to a very wide-angle picture with the "Group-selfie" feature and panning. It is also possible to take a selfie with the rear-facing camera via the self-timer. This should focus automatically, but did not always function perfectly. In addition, multiple successively shot pictures can be compiled into an animated GIF, and record decent looking videos in 1080 p with 30 frames per second.

The image quality in low-light conditions could be better, at least when the LED flash on the rear is not used or with the front-facing camera. The pictures then quickly exhibit a heavy color noise.

Image Comparison

Choose a scene and navigate within the first image. One click changes the position on touchscreens. 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
click to load images

Accessories

A good in-ear headset, the charger and a USB cord are included in the box. As with the Galaxy A5, Samsung offers a protective cover for the A3, which encloses the casing's bezel like a frame and also protects the rear. It costs 20 Euros (~$23). The flip cover is more exclusive, but unlike the Galaxy A5, it does not have a plastic window that allows quick access to important functions. It costs 30 Euros (~$34).

Warranty

Samsung includes a 24-month warranty on the phone, and only six months on the accessories and battery.

Input Devices & Controls

The touchscreen is very accurate up to its edges, and supports multi-touch gestures without any problems. Furthermore, Samsung enables a good number of gestures that can be used for control. For example, incoming calls can be muted by turning the smartphone around or covering it with a hand. Screenshots can be made by stroking over the screen with the side of the hand. All these functioned quite reliably. 

The virtual keyboard is at its limits on the 4.5-inch screen. A screen should not be smaller for a keyboard. The typing accuracy is noticeably different from the 5-inch Galaxy A5. However, Samsung's keyboard is still impressive with its many features and settings. Three different input methods are also possible: voice dictation, swipe to input, or simply via the keyboard.

Display

Samsung treats the Galaxy A3 to a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED screen with 960x540 pixels. The resolution is the common standard in the lower mid-range, but it could have been higher to match the Galaxy A3's price, particularly since Acer's Liquid E3 proves that a 720p screen does not have to cost a fortune. On the other hand, the screen in the Galaxy A3 is very bright, especially for an AMOLED screen that usually could not compete with the brightness of other screen types in the past few years. 433.4 cd/m² is a very competitive average rate among the comparison devices. The illumination of 96% is also extremely homogeneous.

432
cd/m²
432
cd/m²
427
cd/m²
440
cd/m²
434
cd/m²
426
cd/m²
443
cd/m²
436
cd/m²
431
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 443 cd/m² Average: 433.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 96 %
Center on Battery: 434 cd/m²
Contrast: ∞:1 (Black: 0 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 2.98 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 2.68 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
Gamma: 2.44
Samsung Galaxy A3Sony Xperia M2 AquaHuawei Ascend G6Acer Liquid E3 / E380HTC Desire 610Google Nexus 5
Screen
-55%
-55%
-34%
-55%
17%
Brightness middle
434
458
6%
418
-4%
483
11%
339
-22%
469
8%
Brightness
433
474
9%
417
-4%
460
6%
321
-26%
452
4%
Brightness Distribution
96
92
-4%
88
-8%
90
-6%
91
-5%
94
-2%
Black Level *
0.53
0.61
0.63
0.55
0.49
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
2.98
7.63
-156%
6.34
-113%
4.32
-45%
5.98
-101%
2.05
31%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
2.68
6.22
-132%
6.53
-144%
6.39
-138%
5.95
-122%
1.45
46%
Gamma
2.44 90%
2.38 92%
2.11 104%
2.26 97%
2.51 88%
2 110%
CCT
6603 98%
10939 59%
7756 84%
7091 92%
7398 88%
6441 101%
Contrast
864
685
767
616
957

* ... smaller is better

There is not much to say about the contrast of AMOLED screens. Since the screen does not have a backlight, black pixels are really pitch black. This results in a black level of 0.0 cd/m² and a theoretically infinite contrast ratio. Consequently, colors look very bright but can also look overemphasized at the same time. Samsung provides various settings for color reproduction for personal preferences. The user can select between automatic control and one of three profiles.

We used a photospectrometer and the CalMAN software for a detailed analysis of the color reproduction. We quickly noticed that the colors in the profile "Standard" came closest to the sRGB color space reference. However, the colors were also rather subdued. The colors in the "Photo" profile were slightly brighter, but also less accurate. Finally, the colors in the "Movie" profile were very bright, although lighter hues exhibited a slight bluish cast. Overall, the color reproduction is considerably more accurate in the "Standard" profile than in the comparison devices. However, they are still a little too inaccurate for professional use.

Color Management (Standard)
Color Management (Standard)
ColorChecker (Standard)
ColorChecker (Standard)
Saturation Sweeps (Standard)
Saturation Sweeps (Standard)
Grayscale (Standard)
Grayscale (Standard)
Color Management (Photo)
Color Management (Photo)
ColorChecker (Photo)
ColorChecker (Photo)
Saturation Sweeps (Photo)
Saturation Sweeps (Photo)
Grayscale (Photo)
Grayscale (Photo)
Color Management (Movie)
Color Management (Movie)
ColorChecker (Movie)
ColorChecker (Movie)
Saturation Sweeps (Movie)
Saturation Sweeps (Movie)
Grayscale (Movie)
Grayscale (Movie)
CalMAN (Photo - color space AdobeRGB)
CalMAN (Photo - color space AdobeRGB)

The screen's very good contrast and the relatively high brightness are strong indications of good legibility in the outdoors. However, the glossy screen counters that. In fact, it is quite possible to distinguish outlines of the content, at least roughly, even in bright surroundings. Brightly lit rooms or the shaded areas are not a problem from the outset.

As expected from AMOLED screens, the content legibility is impeccable even from very flat viewing angles.

Viewing angles
Viewing angles
Outdoors
Outdoors

Performance

The SoC in the Galaxy A3 could actually clock with up to 1.4 GHz. However, Samsung throttles it to 1.2 GHz. Nevertheless; the four cores of the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916 still have enough power for most apps from Google's Play Store. The performance difference in the benchmarks is very noticeable since Samsung relies on the latest generation of Qualcomm's SoCs, while many of the comparison devices are still equipped with a previous generation. Samsung's Galaxy A3 is 20% to 30% faster than the comparison devices, and not that much slower than the Google's Nexus 5.

Geekbench 3
32 Bit Multi-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
1409 Points ∼2%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
1121 Points ∼1% -20%
Huawei Ascend G6
1148 Points ∼1% -19%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
1098 Points ∼1% -22%
HTC Desire 610
1147 Points ∼1% -19%
Google Nexus 5
2239 Points ∼3% +59%
32 Bit Single-Core Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
474 Points ∼10%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
343 Points ∼7% -28%
Huawei Ascend G6
331 Points ∼7% -30%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
327 Points ∼7% -31%
HTC Desire 610
347 Points ∼7% -27%
Google Nexus 5
694 Points ∼14% +46%
Smartbench 2012
Gaming Index (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
3862 points ∼84%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
4018 points ∼87% +4%
Google Nexus 5
4347 points ∼95% +13%
Productivity Index (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
6034 points ∼32%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
5106 points ∼27% -15%
Google Nexus 5
4966 points ∼26% -18%

Legend

 
Samsung Galaxy A3 Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, Qualcomm Adreno 306, 16 GB eMMC Flash
 
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8926, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB eMMC Flash
 
Huawei Ascend G6 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8226, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 4 GB Flash
 
Acer Liquid E3 / E380 Mediatek MT6589, PowerVR SGX544, 16 GB SSD
 
HTC Desire 610 Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 MSM8226, Qualcomm Adreno 305, 8 GB SSD
 
Google Nexus 5 Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 MSM8974, Qualcomm Adreno 330, 16 GB iNAND Flash

Internet browsing is also somewhat faster with the Galaxy A3 than with the comparable devices. However, the review sample cannot match the speed of Google's Nexus 5.

WebXPRT 2013
Offline Notes (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
2027 ms * ∼42%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
2667.7 ms * ∼56% -32%
Huawei Ascend G6
3186.1 ms * ∼66% -57%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
2360.3 ms * ∼49% -16%
HTC Desire 610
3191.3 ms * ∼67% -57%
Google Nexus 5
30.35 ms * ∼1% +99%
Stocks Dashboard (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
2138 ms * ∼57%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
2691 ms * ∼72% -26%
Huawei Ascend G6
2108.2 ms * ∼56% +1%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
2465.6 ms * ∼66% -15%
HTC Desire 610
2215 ms * ∼59% -4%
Google Nexus 5
57.39 ms * ∼2% +97%
Face Detection (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
3068 ms * ∼25%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
3237.8 ms * ∼27% -6%
Huawei Ascend G6
5216 ms * ∼43% -70%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
3718.1 ms * ∼31% -21%
HTC Desire 610
12023.7 ms * ∼99% -292%
Google Nexus 5
1210.86 ms * ∼10% +61%
Photo Effects (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
1533 ms * ∼17%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
1450.6 ms * ∼16% +5%
Huawei Ascend G6
2840.4 ms * ∼32% -85%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
2681.1 ms * ∼30% -75%
HTC Desire 610
2060.7 ms * ∼23% -34%
Google Nexus 5
28.05 ms * ∼0% +98%
Overall Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
195 Points ∼9%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
172 Points ∼8% -12%
Huawei Ascend G6
132 Points ∼6% -32%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
151 Points ∼7% -23%
HTC Desire 610
114 Points ∼5% -42%
Google Nexus 5
302 Points ∼13% +55%
Octane V2 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
2782 Points ∼5%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
2183 Points ∼4% -22%
Huawei Ascend G6
1364 Points ∼3% -51%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
1839 Points ∼4% -34%
HTC Desire 610
1413 Points ∼3% -49%
Google Nexus 5
5416 Points ∼10% +95%
Google Nexus 5
4722 Points ∼9% +70%
Google V8 Ver. 7 - Google V8 Ver. 7 Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
2832 Points ∼14%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
2163 Points ∼11% -24%
Google Nexus 5
3032 Points ∼15% +7%
Vellamo 3.x
Metal (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
878 Points ∼24%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
763 Points ∼20% -13%
Google Nexus 5
1295 Points ∼35% +47%
Multicore Beta (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
1135 Points ∼25%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
1138 Points ∼25% 0%
Google Nexus 5
1544 Points ∼34% +36%
Browser (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
2067 Points ∼27%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
1767 Points ∼23% -15%
Google Nexus 5
2884 Points ∼38% +40%
Mozilla Kraken 1.1 - Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
13998 ms * ∼24%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
16154.6 ms * ∼27% -15%
Huawei Ascend G6
19050.6 ms * ∼32% -36%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
17169.9 ms * ∼29% -23%
HTC Desire 610
17404.8 ms * ∼29% -24%
Google Nexus 5
7852.3 ms * ∼13% +44%
Sunspider - 1.0 Total Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
1330 ms * ∼15%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
1710.2 ms * ∼19% -29%
Huawei Ascend G6
1296.2 ms * ∼14% +3%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
1433.5 ms * ∼16% -8%
HTC Desire 610
1224 ms * ∼13% +8%
Google Nexus 5
1090 ms * ∼12% +18%
Google Nexus 5
716.3 ms * ∼8% +46%

* ... smaller is better

TThe storage in the Galaxy A3 is very fast and even beats the access times of Google's Nexus 5. The write access in particular, is performed at very high data rates.

AndroBench 3-5
Random Write 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
6 MB/s ∼2%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
1.11 MB/s ∼0% -81%
Huawei Ascend G6
0.21 MB/s ∼0% -96%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
0.96 MB/s ∼0% -84%
HTC Desire 610
0.82 MB/s ∼0% -86%
Google Nexus 5
0.84 MB/s ∼0% -86%
Random Read 4KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
11 MB/s ∼5%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
12.76 MB/s ∼6% +16%
Huawei Ascend G6
9.33 MB/s ∼4% -15%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
13.82 MB/s ∼6% +26%
HTC Desire 610
9.69 MB/s ∼4% -12%
Google Nexus 5
9.88 MB/s ∼4% -10%
Sequential Write 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
71 MB/s ∼12%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
15.35 MB/s ∼3% -78%
Huawei Ascend G6
5.54 MB/s ∼1% -92%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
22.34 MB/s ∼4% -69%
HTC Desire 610
13.76 MB/s ∼2% -81%
Google Nexus 5
15.52 MB/s ∼3% -78%
Sequential Read 256KB (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
132 MB/s ∼7%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
121.33 MB/s ∼7% -8%
Huawei Ascend G6
47.54 MB/s ∼3% -64%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
63.84 MB/s ∼4% -52%
HTC Desire 610
76.55 MB/s ∼4% -42%
Google Nexus 5
74.9 MB/s ∼4% -43%

The performance differences compared with the rivals is lower in 3D performance. The Adreno 306 cannot really stand out from the graphics solutions in older chips, and is even outperformed by the Adreno 305 in Sony's Xperia M2 Aqua or HTC's Desire 610. Nevertheless, the graphics card should be adequate for fast game play.

3DMark
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Physics (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
9071 Points ∼10%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
7989 Points ∼9% -12%
Huawei Ascend G6
7366 Points ∼9% -19%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
8383 Points ∼10% -8%
HTC Desire 610
7973 Points ∼9% -12%
Google Nexus 5
9622 Points ∼11% +6%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Graphics Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
3939 Points ∼1%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
4402 Points ∼1% +12%
Huawei Ascend G6
3503 Points ∼1% -11%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
2140 Points ∼0% -46%
HTC Desire 610
4372 Points ∼1% +11%
Google Nexus 5
15100 Points ∼3% +283%
1280x720 offscreen Ice Storm Unlimited Score (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
4505 Points ∼2%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
4890 Points ∼2% +9%
Huawei Ascend G6
3965 Points ∼2% -12%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
2564 Points ∼1% -43%
HTC Desire 610
4860 Points ∼2% +8%
Google Nexus 5
13404 Points ∼6% +198%
GFXBench (DX / GLBenchmark) 2.7
1920x1080 T-Rex HD Offscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
5.3 fps ∼0%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
5.9 fps ∼0% +11%
Huawei Ascend G6
4.6 fps ∼0% -13%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
2.8 fps ∼0% -47%
HTC Desire 610
5.9 fps ∼0% +11%
Google Nexus 5
21 fps ∼0% +296%
T-Rex HD Onscreen C24Z16 (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
13 fps ∼0%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
15.4 fps ∼0% +18%
Huawei Ascend G6
10.8 fps ∼0% -17%
Acer Liquid E3 / E380
4.8 fps ∼0% -63%
HTC Desire 610
15.2 fps ∼0% +17%
Google Nexus 5
23 fps ∼1% +77%
GFXBench 3.0
off screen Manhattan Offscreen OGL (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
1.8 fps ∼0%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
1.8 fps ∼0% 0%
Huawei Ascend G6
1.4 fps ∼0% -22%
HTC Desire 610
1.7 fps ∼0% -6%
on screen Manhattan Onscreen OGL (sort by value)
Samsung Galaxy A3
6.4 fps ∼2%
Sony Xperia M2 Aqua
6.8 fps ∼2% +6%
Huawei Ascend G6
4.8 fps ∼1% -25%
HTC Desire 610
6.4 fps ∼2% 0%

Games

The graphics card is adequate for most games in Google's Play Store. However, high details push it close to the limits of micro-stutters for example in "Asphalt 8: Airborne". This makes it evident that it is not a top-of-the-line graphics solution. Slightly less demanding games like "Minecraft - Pocket Edition" and 2D games like "Angry Birds: Star Wars 2" run quite smoothly. The precise touchscreen and sensors also contribute to pleasant gaming.

Emissions

Temperature

The temperature development in the Galaxy A5 was hardly noticeable even during load, and the same is true for the smaller Samsung Galaxy A3: The device reached an absolute maximum of 31.5 degrees Celsius (~89 °F) in our tests. This is, in fact, only marginally more than in idle mode where we measured 27.7 degrees (~82 °F).

We also checked whether the graphics card throttles during prolonged load with the battery test of GFXBench. We can give the all clear signal here: The performance remained stable even in the thirtieth repetition of the test.

Max. Load
 31.2 °C
88 F
30.9 °C
88 F
28.7 °C
84 F
 
 30.7 °C
87 F
30.5 °C
87 F
29.2 °C
85 F
 
 30.2 °C
86 F
29.3 °C
85 F
28.7 °C
84 F
 
Maximum: 31.2 °C = 88 F
Average: 29.9 °C = 86 F
29.4 °C
85 F
31.5 °C
89 F
30 °C
86 F
30 °C
86 F
29.4 °C
85 F
30 °C
86 F
29 °C
84 F
30.3 °C
87 F
29.3 °C
85 F
Maximum: 31.5 °C = 89 F
Average: 29.9 °C = 86 F
Power Supply (max.)  35.4 °C = 96 F | Room Temperature 21.2 °C = 70 F | Voltcraft IR-350
(+) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 29.9 °C / 86 F, compared to the average of 33.1 °C / 92 F for the devices in the class Smartphone.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 31.2 °C / 88 F, compared to the average of 35.5 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22.4 to 51.7 °C for the class Smartphone.
(+) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 31.5 °C / 89 F, compared to the average of 34 °C / 93 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 26.5 °C / 80 F, compared to the device average of 33.1 °C / 92 F.

Speakers

Speakers were never a highlight of Samsung's smartphones, and the Galaxy A3 cannot set any new standards here. The sound is thinner, not quite as loud as the Galaxy A5, and it was at most mediocre. The speaker is also installed on the rear so that it distorts or even muffles depending on the surface material. There are hardly any low pitches, and the trebles tend to clash unpleasantly. Thus, it is advisable to use the incorporated 3.5 mm audio jack to connect a sound system or a headphone in which case there are no problems with the sound.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The Galaxy A3's power consumption is very low compared with the comparison devices. This might be due to the AMOLED screen and the modern SoC. It ranges between 0.6 and 1.1 Watts in idle mode. The load maximum is 2.4 Watts. Even the standby consumption of 0.1 Watts is acceptable. Unlike most comparison devices, the phone still drains a minimum of power from the battery when it is shut down.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.1 / 0.1 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 0.6 / 0.9 / 1.1 Watt
Load midlight 1.8 / 2.4 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The non-removable battery in Samsung's Galaxy A3 provides 7.2 Wh or 1.9 ampere hours. Thus, it is slightly smaller than the one in most comparison devices. However, the Galaxy A3 achieves quite decent runtimes due to its low consumption. Internet browsing via Wi-Fi is possible for almost 8 1/2 hours, and 4 1/4 hours can be achieved under full load.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
18h 00min
WiFi Surfing
9h 28min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
10h 02min
Load (maximum brightness)
4h 16min
Samsung Galaxy A3Sony Xperia M2 AquaHuawei Ascend G6Acer Liquid E3 / E380HTC Desire 610Google Nexus 5
Battery Runtime
8%
-11%
-24%
-10%
2%
Reader / Idle
1080
1370
27%
1020
-6%
1107
3%
H.264
602
607
1%
WiFi
568
582
2%
560
-1%
424
-25%
520
-8%
734
29%
Load
256
264
3%
202
-21%
197
-23%
216
-16%
188
-27%

Verdict

In review: Samsung Galaxy A3. Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.
In review: Samsung Galaxy A3. Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.

Basically, Samsung has managed a fantastic comeback with its Galaxy A series. However, this also involves a few losses. The removable battery, for example, has been axed. On the other hand, Samsung has created a first-rate slim unibody casing with a very high-quality feel and elegant design.

Compared with the larger Galaxy A5, some cutbacks have been made in the smaller model. For example, the software lacks multi-window mode, the screen's resolution is lower, and the speaker's sound quality has decreased even more. The voice quality is not ideal, either. The microphone has occasional dropouts, and the contact does not sound as clear as in some higher-quality smartphones.

On the other hand, the buyer gets a nice-to-use touchscreen that is also very bright, and can score in both color reproduction and viewing angles. The camera equipment and the battery life are both decent. The casing virtually does not heat up, and LTE is available.

Anyone who can live with a non-removable battery, and does not consider the phone function as the most important feature in a smartphone, will find the Galaxy A3 a high-quality smartphone that stands out in the lower mid-range. However, it is also slightly more expensive.

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In Review: Samsung Galaxy A3. Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.
In Review: Samsung Galaxy A3. Review sample courtesy of Samsung Germany.

Specifications

Samsung Galaxy A3 (Galaxy Series)
Graphics adapter
Qualcomm Adreno 306, Core: 450 MHz
Memory
1536 MB 
Display
4.5 inch 16:9, 960 x 540 pixel, capacitive touchscreen, Super AMOLED, glossy: yes
Storage
16 GB eMMC Flash, 16 GB 
, , 11.2 GB free
Connections
1 USB 2.0, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm combo audio jack, Card Reader: microSDXC max. 64GB, Sensors: motion sensor, light sensor, proximity sensor, compass, A-GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou
Networking
802.11 b/g/n (b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4), Bluetooth 4.0, GSM quad-band (850/900/1800/1900), UMTS quad-band (850/900/1900/2100), LTE hexa-band (800/850/900/1800/2100/2600)
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 6.9 x 130.1 x 65.5 ( = 0.27 x 5.12 x 2.58 in)
Battery
7 Wh Lithium-Polymer
Operating System
Android 4.4 KitKat
Camera
Webcam: 8.0MP, AF, LED flash, videos @1080p/30fps (rear); 5.0MP (front)
Additional features
Speakers: rear-facing speaker, Keyboard: virtual keyboard, headset, S Planner, S Voice, 24 Months Warranty
Weight
110 g ( = 3.88 oz / 0.24 pounds), Power Supply: 58 g ( = 2.05 oz / 0.13 pounds)
Price
300 Euro

 

The Galaxy A3 is the smaller model of Samsung's new aluminum unibody smartphones.
The Galaxy A3 is the smaller model of Samsung's new aluminum unibody smartphones.
Samsung has also done a really good job with it.
Samsung has also done a really good job with it.
The camera equipment is decent.
The camera equipment is decent.
This can unfortunately only be said to a very limited degree about the speaker.
This can unfortunately only be said to a very limited degree about the speaker.
The battery is now non-removable, the back cover is fixed.
The battery is now non-removable, the back cover is fixed.
But the metal casing itself is very stylish, slim and incredibly stiff.
But the metal casing itself is very stylish, slim and incredibly stiff.
All controls have a high-quality feel.
All controls have a high-quality feel.
The back and option buttons are implemented as touch buttons.
The back and option buttons are implemented as touch buttons.
The screen convinces with its good color reproduction.
The screen convinces with its good color reproduction.
Its resolution could be higher though.
Its resolution could be higher though.
The display can be customized to meet personal preferences via different profiles.
The display can be customized to meet personal preferences via different profiles.
The voice quality is unsatisfactory. The microphone in particular didn't convince us.
The voice quality is unsatisfactory. The microphone in particular didn't convince us.
The software is extensive; some features have been axed compared with the Galaxy A5, though.
The software is extensive; some features have been axed compared with the Galaxy A5, though.
Scrolling to the very left opens "Briefing" from Flipboard, which compiles diverse news topics and social media notifications.
Scrolling to the very left opens "Briefing" from Flipboard, which compiles diverse news topics and social media notifications.
Samsung wants to cut back on preloaded apps, and leaves it up to the user whether they should be installed.
Samsung wants to cut back on preloaded apps, and leaves it up to the user whether they should be installed.
The settings are slightly more clearly arranged, and very extensive.
The settings are slightly more clearly arranged, and very extensive.
The overview of opened apps is also quite clearly arranged.
The overview of opened apps is also quite clearly arranged.
The Galaxy A3 also features the standard mode that can be enabled when the user does not need all the smartphone's features.
The Galaxy A3 also features the standard mode that can be enabled when the user does not need all the smartphone's features.

Similar Devices

Similar devices from a different Manufacturer

Devices with the same GPU

AGM A8 Smartphone Review
Adreno 306, Snapdragon 410 MSM8916, 5", 0.247 kg

Links

  • Tips for buying a notebook - notebookCHECK Purchase Advisory

  • Find the right notebook - notebookCHECK Hardware Guide

  • Display resolution comparison - DPI (grain size) of displays

  • Our test criteria
  • Manufacturer's information

Compare Prices

Pros

+Stylish unibody casing
+Very slim and stiff chassis
+Extensive software
+LTE support
+Accurate tracking
+Decent camera equipment
+Precise input devices
+Good screen
+Low temperatures
+Useful battery life
 

Cons

-Screeching speaker
-Middling screen resolution
-Unsatisfactory voice quality
-No 5 GHz Wi-Fi
-Battery no longer removable

Shortcut

What we like

A very stiff unibody casing in the mid-range? A great idea.

What we'd like to see

The removable battery was an important argument for many Galaxy smartphone users. That is no longer available in the Galaxy A lineup.

What surprises us

The high-quality feel of the Galaxy A, but then, it is also a bit more expensive.

The competition

Sonys Xperia M2 Aqua, Huawei Ascend G6, Acer Liquid E3, HTC Desire 610, Google Nexus 5

Rating

Samsung Galaxy A3 - 02/12/2015 v4(old)
Florian Wimmer

Chassis
94%
Keyboard
66 / 75 → 88%
Pointing Device
92%
Connectivity
46 / 60 → 77%
Weight
96%
Battery
92%
Display
87%
Games Performance
53 / 63 → 84%
Application Performance
27 / 70 → 39%
Temperature
93%
Noise
100%
Audio
50 / 91 → 55%
Camera
71%
Average
74%
86%
Smartphone - Weighted Average
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Samsung Galaxy A3 Smartphone Review
Florian Wimmer, 2015-02-19 (Update: 2018-05-15)