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Samsung has constructed a well-balanced phone in the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017. It gets surprisingly close to the look and feel of the Samsung Galaxy S7, despite costing around half the price.
The A3 even shares its big brother’s water and dust resistance rating, which is pretty impressive in a mid-ranger. Elements like a solid fingerprint sensor and Samsung’s Always On Display have also been carried across successfully.
Those expecting Samsung to bring its camera and display excellence to the mid-range will be somewhat disappointed, however, while the TouchWiz UI won’t be winning over any new fans.
All in all, this is an assured effort from Samsung, but it’s sometimes hard to make a clear distinction between this offering and that of classy sub-£200/$250/AU$300 phones like the Wileyfox Swift 2 Plus.
Who's this for?
The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 is ideal for those who want the classy look and feel of the Samsung Galaxy S7, but aren’t prepared to pay the premium price.
Its small 720p display and modest CPU mean it’s not for power users or big media consumers, but it does the smartphone basics with some poise and style.
Should you buy it?
Once-premium design elements have been creeping into the more affordable end of the smartphone market over the past year or two, and the Galaxy A3 continues that trend.
Its metal and glass construction suggests a level of exclusiveness beyond its price tag, while its IP68 rating means that this quality isn’t merely skin deep.
Use the Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 extensively, and the cracks will begin to appear - an underwhelming display here, a hit-and-miss camera there. For casual users looking to make a stylish statement, however, it’s well worth considering.
First reviewed: February 2017
The Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 is a solid upgrade on its predecessor and an accomplished mid-range phone, but there are other strong options too, such as the following three handsets.
Oppo F1 Plus
Oppo has gone with a similar blend of premium design and middling performance to Samsung, with a similar price tag to match. While it’s not quite as cohesively designed as the Galaxy A3, the F1 Plus has a couple of distinct advantages.
It has a larger, sharper 5.5-inch 1080p AMOLED display, a significantly more capacious 64GB of storage, double the RAM, and a more impressive 16MP front-facing camera.
Of course, you also get Oppo’s custom Color OS, which if anything is even fussier than TouchWiz.
- Read our full Oppo F1 Plus review
Here’s another high-value Chinese handset offering a premium (more or less) design and a range of seemingly high-end features for not a lot of money. In fact, the Honor 6X is a good chunk cheaper than the Galaxy A3 at £230/$250 (around AU$390).
It too has a metal body and speedy fingerprint sensor, but it also has the benefit of a dual-sensor camera, which allows you to attain a pronounced depth of field effect on your shots.
Again, you get a larger and sharper 5.5-inch 1080p display and a competitive chipset. But you have to put up with a clunky custom UI and considerably less brand cachet.
- Read our full Honor 6X review
Wileyfox Swift 2 X
British upstart Wileyfox has clearly found the knack for creating beautifully designed phones that undercut established rivals on price. The Wileyfox Swift 2 X has a 5.2-inch 1080p display, 32GB of storage, and a 16MP camera to complement its sharp metal body - all for £220 (around $275/AU$360).
It’s not as powerful as the Galaxy A3 2017, and its battery life isn’t anywhere near as good, but the Swift 2 X has a much slicker custom Cyanogen UI, so TouchWiz haters should take note.
There are cases to be made for both phones, but the Wileyfox Swift 2 X definitely feels like the better value proposition of the two.
- Read our full Wileyfox Swift 2 X review
- Thanks to Carphone Warehouse for providing us with a Samsung Galaxy A5 for review