The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) is loaded with a 4.7" Super AMOLED screen, guarded by Gorilla Glass 4. The screen has 720p resolution, which works out to 312ppi pixel density, close enough to that of the Xperia X Compact and iPhone 7. The screen isn't as sharp, though, the Super AMOLED matrix makes a crosshatch pattern visible (not an issue with the other two phones, which use LCD).
That aside, the Super AMOLED screen is still a champ when it comes to sunlight legibility and color accuracy and the A3 screen is no exception.
When setting the brightness manually, the Galaxy A3 (2017) tops out at 408nits, silghtly above what the Galaxy S7 managed. With automatic brightness, the maximum goes up to 518 nits, which is comparable with the Xperia X Compact. Overall, the screen is quite bright for an OLED (especially if you use it with Auto brightness) and can rub shoulders with premium phones.
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At minimum, the screen puts out a mere 1.8nits, which should be comfortable for reading even in pitch dark. There's an adjustable Blue light filter too so that using the phone late in the evening will not interfere with your quality of sleep (if studies are to be believed).
The sunlight legibility matched the Xperia X Compact and sits somewhat behind the iPhone 7. That's still a good deal better than many similarly priced phones and it only gets better when you enable Auto brightness mode.
The default Adaptive screen setting pushes colors outside the sRGB triangle, the extra saturation and contrast this mode provides makes images pop. If you want something more accurate, you can use AMOLED Photo (average deltaE 3.7, max 7.4) or AMOLED Cinema (average 2.7, max 7.5).
Traditionally, the most accurate mode is Basic, which drops the average deltaE to an impressive 1.5. All colors are rendered at < 2 deltaE, it's the whites that push the maximum to 4 (which is still quite impressive). The small 720p screen is not perfect for photo viewing, but it will give you true to life colors if you want them (and when you want them).
There are color sliders that allow you to fine tune the display (only in Adaptive mode), but without calibration hardware you can't do better than the preset modes.
The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) has to be among the most affordable Android phones with an Always-On Display. It is exactly as capable as that of the S7 and can show several clock designs (including ones that focus on the calendar) and notification icons from third-party apps.
Passive information is great (it was the main purpose of Google Now, for example) and we think Always-On Displays will become more common as the price of such displays falls.
The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) leaves no option unchecked when it comes to connectivity. It boasts LTE Cat. 6 (300/50Mbps), optional dual-SIM, fast Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Samsung Pay with NFC and MST, USB-C, there's even an FM radio. Really, only the IR blaster has been omitted.
The 300/50Mbps top LTE speed is achieved with 2 Carrier Aggregation (2CA). The Wi-Fi meanwhile uses only one channel, providing a top speed of 433Mbps. Low-power connections are available in the form of Bluetooth 4.2 LE and ANT+.
The USB-C port is wired only for USB 2.0 speed and there's no MHL support, meaning you can't use USB accessories or get wired TV out.
There's no word on aptX support (for high quality Bluetooth audio), so you may want to make good use of that wired headphone jack.
The Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) comes with a 2,350mAh battery, basically the same as its predecessor. Samsung didn't upgrade the fuel tank, but it did use a more efficient engine - the 14nm Exynos 7870 Octa chipset. From our experience, chipsets built on a 14nm fabrication process offer stellar battery life so we had our expectations high for the Galaxy A3 (2017) right from the get-go.
The official specs promise 17 hours of talk time on a 3G network, 17 hours of browsing on Wi-Fi and 17 hours again when it comes to watching videos. Our tests (done at 200nits) came quite close to those official specs. We measured better talk time, while the other two readings came in a bit short.
That's massively good battery life, very few phones offer this level of battery endurance for web and video. And most of them are huge phones with huge batteries. The iPhone 7 lasts hours - the Xperia X Compact too.
Our Galaxy A3 (2017) unit came with the standard Samsung Fast Charger. Trying it out, we managed to get 37% charge (from 0%) in half an hour, which isn't particularly fast. A complete charge took 90 minutes, a pretty good pace.
The battery testing procedure is described in detail in case you're interested in the nitty-gritties. You can also check out our complete battery test table, where you can see how all of the smartphones we've tested will compare under your own typical use.
Note that the 93 hour endurance rating is with the Always On Display (AOD) feature turned off. We measured 61 hours with it on, but note that this can vary quite a bit depending on how you use the phone - AOD dims in the dark and shuts off in your pocket, so your mileage will vary based on your usage pattern.
Outside of everything mentioned so far, the Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) software offers a few advanced power-saving features. There are two modes, each of which can impose various limits - maximum brightness, chipset clock speed, Internet use and (of course) disable the Always On Display. You get an estimate of how much extra endurance you'll gain with each mode.