Hands on: Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 review

The cheapest of Samsung's mid-rangers

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Our Early Verdict

Samsung's smallest new Galaxy A range phone packs a punch but misses out on some of the higher end features you'll get on the marginally more expensive Galaxy A5.

For

  • Great build quality and design
  • Fingerprint scanner

Against

  • Not Full HD display
  • Limited storage

Samsung has given its mid-range Galaxy A range a fresh new design taking elements of the Galaxy S7 and applying them to the new, cheaper handsets.

The Galaxy A3 is the smallest and therefore cheapest member of the new range, but still features a lot of high spec that make it worth taking a look at for your new phone.

Announced alongside the Galaxy A5, the Galaxy A3 features a 4.7-inch display, an octa-core processor, 2GB of RAM, a fingerprint scanner and much more.

Samsung Galaxy A3 release date and price 

Samsung has confirmed the Galaxy A range will be coming to the UK at some point in February with pre-orders opening on January 20.

Whether the Galaxy A3 will come to the US or Australia is currently unclear. In the UK however, retailer Mobile Fun has put it on sale for only £299 (around $365/AU$505).

Samsung has yet to officially confirm the price, but Mobile Fun's estimate is likely in the right area.

Design and display 

Samsung has taken the design language of the Galaxy S7 and applied it here, so you get the curved back made from glass and a metal frame to hold it all together.

For the first time the Galaxy A3 is now waterproof. It’s IP68 certified water and dust resistant, meaning you can take this phone in the bath and not have to worry about getting it a little wet.

Traditional color choices are limited to either black or gold, but Samsung has more out there color schemes of pink and blue on offer too.

On the front is a 4.7-inch 720p display, which looks bright but it's instantly clear it's not as crisp as the Full HD screen on the Galaxy A5.

At the bottom of the screen sits a fingerprint scanner, but we haven’t yet had a chance to test out how quickly it works when unlocking your phone.

Under the hood is the Exynos 7870 chipset, which is clocked at 1.6GHz and should be powerful enough to run most apps and games you'll want to use. There’s also 2GB of RAM and you’re limited to only 16GB of storage.

The Galaxy A3 does feature microSD support up to 256GB though to try and make up for the limited internal space.

Software is a little outdated on the Galaxy A3 though with the phone running last year’s Android 6 Marshmallow with Samsung’s UI overlay on top.

Whether the phone will be upgraded to Android 7 in the near future is currently unclear.

On the back of the phone is a 13MP shooter with F1.9 aperture to brighten up low-light night shots and it also features Samsung’s auto-focus tech as well. 

The front sensor is 8MP, which is no where near as impressive as the 16MP camera on the front of the Galaxy A5.

The phone is powered by a 2,350mAh battery cell, which considering it’s only powering a 720p screen may end up good day-to-day battery life.

That's also charged by a USB-C cable, which is reversible so you won't be left trying to jam a microUSB into your phone the wrong way up.

Early verdict 

If you’re looking for a smaller version of the Galaxy A range, this should suit you but there are a few areas which feature slightly disappointing spec.

The screen isn’t as high resolution as we would have hoped, and the limited storage space is sure to cause issues for anyone buying the Galaxy A3.

That said, you'll get a brand new design, a fingerprint scanner and much more which may well make up for the limited problems.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James is Phones, Wearables and Tablets writer for TechRadar and covers all the big announcements from the best manufacturers making gadgets for your palms, wrists and face. Based in London, James is often testing out the latest and greatest phones, smartwatches, VR headsets and - when he can be motivated to go outside - fitness bands. Be sure to follow him on Twitter for all the latest from the mobile world.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.