It’s pretty hard to ignore Samsung’s dominance of the mobile industry. And a big part of that dominance has been their ability to produce brilliant phones at every level of the market. The A Series fits squarely into the mid-range category, but still offers a lot in the way of premium features – especially when it comes to design and build quality.
The A3 holds true to those standards, with a tip-top glass and metal design. Despite all that metal, though, it’s surprisingly lightweight – while still feeling seriously durable when you pick it up. It looks like a higher-end phone, with the same kind of stylish charm as the premium Galaxy S6. The 4.5-inch screen is simple to navigate with a single hand, too.
Speaking of screens, the A3 features Samsung’s fantastic Super AMOLED display. Colours look bright and beautiful, while viewing angles are excellent, making the A3 a good choice for watching Netflix or YouTube while you’re out and about. Technically, it’s got a lower screen resolution than some other phones at this price point, but it’s very hard to tell, with text and images both appearing sharp on the A3’s marvellously engineered display. 4.5 inches might be a bit too small for some, though.
With such a lovely, bright display, you might expect the A3’s battery life to suffer. But in fact, it’s one of the best performers in the mid-range. You should get at least a day of charge out of it – and it’ll often last until about lunchtime the next day, too.
That being said, the A3 does make a few sacrifices in terms of power. Its processor isn’t particularly speedy – and it only comes with 1.5GB of RAM. But while those specs put the A3 behind its competitors on paper, it pulls off a minor mobile miracle in still offering a fast, pretty powerful user experience. Apps will very rarely lag, while simple gaming and multi-tasking are a breeze. It doesn’t have the power of a high-end phone, but the A3 still shouldn’t let you down on the day-to-day stuff.
The A3’s camera, too, is much better than you might initially think. At 8 Megapixels, it does, at first glace, seem to sit firmly towards the lower end of the mid-range. But an excellent camera suite, with some really handy editing software, makes for a really refreshing camera experience. The 5 Megapixel front-facing camera is strong, too, giving you plenty of video-calling capabilities, as well as a wide-angle selfie option, for getting more of the moment into the frame.
The A3’s 16GB of built-in memory should be enough for everyday use, although you can expand it using a MicroSD card, if you find your phone getting full. You can pop anything up to 64GB of extra storage in the dedicated slot.
The user experience, too, is great. Samsung’s customised version of Android seems better than ever, with less of the pre-installed stuff that’s slowed other models down. There’s loads of handy tricks to try, too, like the time-saving swipe-to-call option.
While we’re on the subject of user experience, make sure you remember that the A3 only has a 4.5-inch screen. It comes down to personal taste – and it won’t bother you at all if you’re used to smaller phones. But if you’re making the transition from 5 inches and above, all that tapping and zooming will prove annoying at first.
So that’s the Samsung A3. Lots of big positives, just a few small negatives. The design’s incredible, the screen is great and battery life is strong. While you won’t find power in spades here, the A3 should motor through your everyday tasks easily enough. It’s by no means an S6 or S7, but if you’re happy with a 4.5-inch phone, you’ll find a lot of great things in this small package.