You can sense the change of Samsung's mobile game in the packaging of the Galaxy A3. It sports a lighter and cleaner design, which impresses at first sight.
Inside, we the usual array of accessories - headphones, microUSB cable, wall charger and a pin for the SIM card and microSD card trays.
The Galaxy A3 measures 130 x 65.5 x 6.9mm and weighs just 110 g. It's compact and light weight, yet sturdy due to its aluminum frame.
This change in the design concept is exactly what Samsung needed to stay on top of the smartphone market.
Happily, the Galaxy Alpha and Galaxy Note 4 aren't concept devices and have inspired the mid-range line-up of the company as well as the high-end.
The Galaxy A3 is stunning to look at
It all starts off with that aluminum metal frame. It sets the tone for the entire smartphone and keeps the thin profile in check.
The Galaxy A3 is one of the thinnest smartphones Samsung has ever made, next to the Galaxy A7, which measures just 6.3mm. In our office, the Galaxy A3 is joined by the Galaxy A5 and you should check them out posing side by side.
The Galaxy A3 and Galaxy A5 side by side
The metal work doesn't stop with the frame, as there's metal as trim to the camera lens, the loudspeaker, the power key and volume rocker. Even the parts that are plastic are very premium quality. The back cover for instance, albeit non-removable, has a smooth surface, which glistens as light fall on it. In fact this finish reminds us of how a pearl would glisten under light. The impression is so strong that it adds a sort of a feminine feel to the white smartphone.
Unlike the Galaxy Alpha, the Galaxy A3 doesn't offer a finger-print sensor under the Home button, nor is there a heart-rate monitor on the back. The Galaxy Alpha however lacks a microSD slot.
The Galaxy A3 and Galaxy Alpha side by side
We are impressed by the tactile feel of the home and power/lock buttons as well as the volume rocker. A small caveat is that the latter two are a bit narrow and thus harder to press.
That aside, handling the Galaxy A3 is a real pleasure - the phone is impressively thin and light, the build quality is great and the matte rear cover provides a solid grip. The Galaxy A3 would easily fit even in a tight shirt pocket and it's so light that you may altogether forget that it's there.
Above the display we find an earpiece, the usual bunch of sensors and a high-resolution 5MP selfie snapper.
There is nothing unusual below the screen either. A hardware Home key is flanked by a touch-sensitive App switcher key and a Back key.
Samsung keeps the classic front layout intact
The metal sides of the phone host a single hardware control each - the Power button on the right and the Volume rocker on the left. Both are made of metal, but as we mentioned their slimness is a bit of an issue.
The hardware controls: the volume rocker on the right and the power/lock key in the left
The microSD and nanoSIM trays are on the right-hand side, easily ejectable with the provided metal pin. In contrast, the original Galaxy Alpha smartphone didn't offer a microSD storage expansion, but it did allow you to access and remove the battery.
The microSD card and SIM card slot trays
The top of the phone features only the secondary microphone, which is used for ambient noise cancellation in calls.
The top of the phone is almost bare
The bottom is more crowded, accommodating the exposed 3.5mm audio jack, the microUSB port and the primary mic pinhole.
The 8MP camera is on the back, accompanied by a rather big LED flash. The camera itself protrudes slightly from the back of the phone, extending past the quoted 6.9mm of thickness. The snapper is also capable of recording 1080p videos.
Out of reach, below the back panel, is hidden a 1,900mAh battery. Unfortunately, it's not user accessible.
Overall, we are pleased with the build quality and the way the Galaxy A3 feels in hand. Samsung did a splendid job here and its effort is showing through and through.
The only real drawbacks are the the non-removable battery and the fact that on the Dual SIM version you have to choose whether you would use the secondary slot for a microSD card or for a second SIM card - you can't enjoy both. Other than that, the Galaxy A3 a solid piece of kit and we're glad to see Samsung expand this design language across more affordable phones than the Galaxy Alpha.
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