Samsung’s Galaxy A3 reviewed: A small slice of sophistication

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All eyes may be on Samsung’s new flagship flotilla, the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge, but don’t be fooled into thinking they’re the be all and end all of mobile phones today. The S6 Edge, in particular, is a design tour de force: but the remarkable stuff might well be happening at the other end of the market entirely.

We’ve been playing around with one of Samsung’s most affordable phones, the Galaxy A3, which is available on prepaid for around R3 999 and on contract for a couple of hundred bucks a month. And frankly, it’s an awesome phone for the money – albeit one that’s launching into a crowded space.

The phone itself feels exactly like a smartphone should. The build quality and design ape the Galaxy Alpha and even the brand new S6, with a slick-to-the-touch feel and a very thin body that’s entirely made of metal. The squarer shape feels more modern than previous models like the S5 Mini and S4 Mini, even if it’s also a throwback to the older S2.

It does have one design feature we’re sorry Samsung lost, which it shares with the S6: you can’t take the back off to remove the battery.

In use, the Galaxy A3 feels fast and fluid. A quad core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 powers through Samsung’s Touchwiz overlay, and apps starts as quickly as you could hope from a phone worth twice as much. It’s disappointing to find that it’s not yet running Android 5.0 with the awesome new notification system, however, and there’s no news on when/if that update is coming.

In other aspects, though, the Galaxy A3 doesn’t disappoint. The screen may be lower resolution that you’re used to – the 4.5inch display has 540×960 pixels – but in practice it’s hard to see the difference between this and a screen with four times as many pixels. And the Super-AMOLED technology is as blissfully colourful as ever.

Elsewhere, you get an FM radio thrown in for free and an LTE-compatible radio too. All in a package that weighs just 110.3g and has a great battery life that kept us going for a couple of days without charge.

An excellent phone overall, then. Elegant and simple, with enough power and features to justify the price it’s one that we’d pick over other big brand mid-range rivals like the LG G3 Beat or the Acer Liquid Jade, mainly because the screen is so lovely. It even has a half decent camera too.

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