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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Despite stiff competition from more powerful handsets, the Samsung Galaxy A3 proves to be a worthy contender in the mid-range smartphone market thanks to its solid performance, superb battery life, small footprint and premium build quality.

We liked

In terms of build quality and design, there are very few affordable smartphones that can compete with the Galaxy A3. The all-metal unibody design feels incredibly premium for the price, with the small screen, slim profile and thin bezels combining to produce a great in-hand feel.

Neatly tucked away within the metallic frame is a tray allowing you to expand the 16GB of internal storage by up to 64GB via a microSD card. This option is not always included in unibody smartphones and will be welcomed by users wishing to store a large number of photos and videos on the Galaxy A3.

Despite Samsung only packing a 1,900mAh power pack into the Galaxy A3's slender body, battery life is fantastic. Even with heavy usage the battery will provide a day's worth of juice, and those who use their smartphone more lightly can expect to go around a day-and-a-half between charges. Ultra power saving mode is also an extremely useful feature if you desperately need to conserve juice and allows the Galaxy A3's battery to last even longer.

Everyday performance is really solid, regardless of the fact that the Galaxy A3 features far less powerful internals than many of its rivals. The new TouchWiz UI feels far snappier and refined than previous iterations and lag is almost non-existent. Multitasking is also handled efficiently, even with just 1.5GB RAM available.

We disliked

In general use the 4.5-inch qHD (quarter HD) Super AMOLED display on the Galaxy A3 is a strong performer, showcasing vivid colours and brilliant viewing angles. Yet when consuming media the low resolution is quite noticeable and the screen may seem too small for some.

Camera performance on the whole was a little disappointing, with both the 8MP primary camera and 5MP front-facing shooter producing grainy results. The camera software provides a decent shooting experience but some advanced options have been removed in favour of more selfie-oriented features.

The lack of an LED notification light is also a minor inconvenience. Notifications from default apps such as 'Messages' will light up the Galaxy A3's display when it's sleeping, yet in order to check your notifications from third-party apps you'll have to physically turn on the screen.


With the Galaxy A3, Samsung has proved many doubters wrong, showcasing the Korean firm's ability to produce an incredibly well-made and premium-feeling all-metal smartphone.

Unlike many bland mid-range options currently available, the Galaxy A3 truly offers something different, and while the compact design will not appeal to everyone, especially users who consume a lot of media, it does contribute towards a great in-hand feel.

Samsung's offering doesn't claim to be a spec champ, and those looking for an affordable powerhouse should probably check out the OnePlus One and Honor 6.

What the Galaxy A3 does offer however, is a solid smartphone experience that easily fits in your pocket or bag and in the palm of your hand. It's ideal for those on a budget who crave premium build quality and wish to purchase a smartphone from a well-known, reputable brand.

First reviewed: June 2015