Samsung Galaxy A3 review

Flagship looks without the price

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Battery life

  • 2,350mAh battery lasts two days of moderate usage
  • Unusually fast drain in airplane mode

The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017’s 2,350mAh battery might not sound all that mighty - especially when you consider that its big brother, the Samsung Galaxy S7, has a 3,000mAh unit.

But of course, the Galaxy A3 has a smaller and much less pixel-packed display and a lower power CPU. The result of this is some truly impressive levels of stamina.

In general usage, we were frequently getting through to bed time with 50% or more left in the tank. This was with what we’d term moderate use - so a few calls, texts, and instant messages, a fair amount of web browsing, and some light gaming. 

That means it’s good for two days of usage, while even heavy users will get through a full day with power to spare.

The Galaxy A3 bears up well under strain, too. Ten minutes of Dead Trigger 2 running on high graphical settings sapped 4% of the battery, which isn’t bad at all.

Video doesn’t take its toll either. When we put the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 through the standard TechRadar battery test, which is a 90 minute looping 720p video with the screen brightness cranked right up to full, it sapped just 8% of a full battery.

That compares very favourably to the Oppo F1 Plus with 12%, the Honor 6X with 15%, and the Moto G4 Plus with 17%. Well done, Samsung.

One slight anomaly was the phone’s overnight battery performance. During eight hours of airplane mode time, we found that the A3 lost 11% of its juice. 

That’s not a deal-breaker - particularly as this is usually when most people charge their phones anyway - but it suggests a little inefficiency during off periods.


  • 13MP camera struggles on Auto in low and mixed lighting
  • HDR mode very accomplished
  • 8MP selfie cam is fine, but beauty options are gimmicky

Samsung has fitted the Galaxy A3 2017 out with a 13MP main camera and an impressive-sounding f/1.9 aperture lens. Technically, the latter should capture more light than many lower and mid-range phones are capable of. 

This has obvious potential with low-light shots, where shutter times can usually be kept a little briefer, resulting in less motion blur.

Frankly, though, we didn’t see the full benefit of that during our time with the phone. Shooting in anything less than optimal lighting often resulted in blurry, grainy shots.

The A3’s camera seemed to struggle with dynamic range in its regular Auto mode, as is often the case with anything less than a flagship phone. There is an HDR Rich tone mode, however, which requires you to slide left and manually select it. 

You also need to be sure to hold the phone steady while shooting in this mode.

But once activated, we found this HDR mode to be very effective at evening out the extremes of light in certain images. There was none of the weird ‘fake reality’ effect that most cheap phones seem to create with their HDR modes - perhaps the surest sign of Samsung’s considerable camera expertise at play in the A3.

Indeed, even outside of the HDR mode we managed to grab the odd impressive shot on the standard Auto setting. Some of our landscape shots captured the warm light of an unseasonably sunny winter’s day very well, while snaps of a family playing table tennis captured the ball in mid air without any motion blur.

Give the Galaxy A3 2017 camera the ideal conditions and you’ll be able to grab some decent shots. But in less than optimal lighting conditions, the default Auto mode will struggle. And that’s precisely how the vast majority of people buying a mid-range smartphone will be shooting, almost exclusively.

There’s also a Pro mode on offer here, though it limits you to tweaking the white balance, ISO, and exposure compensation. It’s not as comprehensive as Pro modes in more expensive phones.

Samsung has fitted the A3 2017 with an 8MP front camera, which isn’t quite as impressive in a mid-range phone as it might have been a year or two ago. After all, the Oppo F1 Plus features a 16MP selfie cam. But that’s still plenty of pixels for your self shot.

Theres also a floating Beauty button that lets you ‘enhance’ your features by evening out your skin tone, making your face slimmer, and increasing the size of your eyes. That’s the idea anyway. In practice we found it tends to make you look like an alien.

Camera samples