Samsung Galaxy A3 (2014) review

Metal in the mid-range

Samsung Galaxy A3 review
The small that promises big things for Samsung

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With a modest 1.2GHz Snapdragon 410 quad-core processor and Adreno 306 GPU, backed up by just 1.5GB RAM, you'd probably expect performance to be a major weaknesses of the Samsung Galaxy A3.

Compared to similarly priced smartphones such as the Honor 6 and Oneplus One, the Galaxy A3 is far less powerful on paper and it certainly can't hold a candle to high-end flagships like the Galaxy S6 Edge.

As we all know, benchmarking results often don't tell the whole story and that's certainly the case here. The Galaxy A3 only scored an average of 1,458 on the Geekbench 3 multi-core test, which puts it firmly between budget devices such as the Moto G (2014) (1,142) and the Honor 4X (1,705).

Samsung Galaxy A3 review

Consistently respectable Geekbench 3 scores translate into fluid everyday performance.

Yet in everyday use the Galaxy A3 feels satisfyingly snappy and smooth, with very little lag. Navigating through the new TouchWiz UI is remarkably fluid, app opening times are fair and multitasking is handled without a hitch, despite the Galaxy A3 packing only 1.5GB RAM.

Avid gamers are unlikely to gravitate towards the Galaxy A3 due to small, low-resolution screen. However Samsung's pocket-friendly handset is perfectly adequate for those who enjoy a bit of light gaming on the go. Crossy Road and Sonic Jump Fever run without a hiccup, although dropped frames are a common occurrence in more demanding games such as Dead Trigger.

Performance may see an increase with the imminent arrival of a 5.0.2 Lollipop update that is fully optimised for 64-bit architecture. At present the Galaxy A3 ships with 4.4.4 KitKat and while this is a stable option given Lollipop's recent woes, it does not take full advantage of the 64-bit Snapdragon 410 processor.

Battery life

Unlike the majority of previous affordable Samsung smartphones, the Galaxy A3 features a non-removable battery.The included 19,00mAh unit is a little on the small side, but sheer capacity had to be sacrificed in order to keep a slim profile and compact form factor.

Samsung's decision to include an energy efficient qHD Super AMOLED display and less power-hungry internals really pays dividends here. Battery life on the whole is impressive considering the small capacity power pack.

Light-to-moderate users will comfortably get a days worth of battery life out of the Galaxy A3 and potentially a little more. Like the similarly sized Moto G (2013) there's often some juice left in the tank at the end of the day, which is enough to see you through until lunchtime the following day (and sometimes even further).

Samsung Galaxy A3 review

Even during days that include heavy camera use you can expect to get plenty of screen on time.

Results from the standard TechRadar video test were very encouraging. After playing the 90-minute video, with brightness and volume levels set to maximum, the Galaxy A3 still had 78% of its juice remaining.

That's a notable feat considering the low-capacity battery and the Galaxy A3 only loses 5% more juice during the test than the mid-range king, the OnePlus One. In comparison to smartphones of a similar size, the Galaxy A3 once again fairs well, conserving 1% more battery over the course of the video than the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact and HTC One Mini 2.

This result translates into superb everyday battery performance and over the course of the review period, when I was vigorously testing the handset, I was easily able to obtain four to five hours of screen-on time per charge.

Power Saving and Ultra Power Saving modes are available in the Galaxy A3's settings menu if you need to eek out some more power from the battery. Although using the latter is probably only advisable for those desperate to save juice, as the feature limits most smartphone functions.

Heavy users who consume a lot of media and play graphically intensive games probably won't want to use these performance-sapping modes, and will more-than-likely end up needing to charge the Galaxy A3 overnight.