Android v4.4.4 upgradeable to Android v5 (Lollipop)
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The Galaxy Alpha gave Samsung fans something they had been clamouring after for some time - a phone with a quality metal frame.
Following on from the relative success of this comes the full metal A series, which includes the Galaxy A3 reviewed here, as well as the A5 and the A7.
Slim, lightweight metal body
Despite the light weight and strange empty feeling to the casing, it's a true unibody structure measuring under 7 millimeters.
The Samsung Galaxy A3 aims to appease those of you with a smaller budget wanting a little more class and substance for your money without having to pay top dollar for a huge, all singing, all dancing top of the range smartphone like the Galaxy S5 or the new S6 and S6 EDGE.
So what does the Galaxy A3 have to offer you? The name 'Galaxy' denotes it as a Samsung Android phone, which comes with their longstanding TouchWiz interface. Android KitKat v4.4.4. is the order of the day here, and an upgrade to version 5 Lollipop will be made available.
Classic Samsung Galaxy design
That title tells you that it has an inbuilt battery, unusually for Samsung, as there is no seperate battery cover. In fact the look of the phone is classic Samsung and has the familiar flat, square look with slightly rounded corners seen on several of Samsung's range dating back to the days even before Android arrived on the scene.
The one main visual difference is that the Korean manufacturers have taken a leaf out of Apple's book, because the A3 has a protruding camera lens on the rear as seen on the iPhone 6. This won't be an issue for most but it is worth bearing in mind that it means you won't be able to put the phone down flat.
The all metal body is a less apparent feature of the design at first glance but it is undoubtedly the main talking point of the A3.
4.5 inch Super AMOLED screen
As you might expect this is the cheapest and smallest of the 'A' range, with a 4.5 inch Super AMOLED screen which places it in the midrange bracket.
However the 245 pixel per inch density is sub HD but it is fair to say it's difficult to tell, with Samsung's screen technology giving you the feeling that you are in fact looking at a HD screen. We genuinely couldn't tell until we saw the spec sheet. We're impressed.
Worthy of mention is the fact that this is one of the first phones to feature version 4 of Corning's Gorilla Glass which is now even more likely to withstand a breakage from being dropped onto a sharp or rough surface.
See below for more information on how this fantastic technology is helping to protect your smartphone.
It is fast becoming a trend of including not one but two decent cameras thanks to the upsurge in selfies. Samsung have recognised this and have included a "Wide selfie" mode which allows you to get more of your friends into the picture.
It is unusual to discuss the merits of the front facing camera more than the rear one but 5 megapixels is unusual on a less than premium phone. It's not a first though - Microsoft recognised this when they released the Nokia Lumia 735.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is that it appears to actually perform better than the "main" 8 megapixel camera on the rear, which produces perfectly acceptable photos. But they do lack that wow factor.
Specification is up there though with autofocus, touch to focus, face detection and panoramic modes and an LED flash. This is all complimented with a fine selection of built in camera software.
Impressive feature set
The best of the rest of the specs includes just about everything you would need from a smartphone. An FM radio, stereo Bluetooth and 3,5mm jack help you enjoy your music while assisted GPS makes it ideal for navigation and map based features, with Google Now helping you find your nearest filling station or ATM cash machine.
A 1.2 GHz Qualcomm processor keeps things running very smoothly. This would have been considered very fast a couple of years ago and you won't have any problems here, even with a number of apps running at the same time.
We did find some larger websites, notably eBay UK, a little slow to load, but that could be simply down to the websites themselves as they didn't appear to be any quicker using wi-fi.
A healthy 16GB of storage can be complimented with a memory card up to 64GB capacity, but as noted above there is no access to the battery. It seems with Samsung you can't have both!
The full metal credentials of the A3 will give a lot of people what they have wanted for a very long time from Samsung, a break from the often lower than average quality of their plastic bodied models. It still feels oddly low rent for reasons we can't quite put into words, possibly because of the light weight, for a metal encased phone, of just 110 grams.
Samsung just about get away with the just-below HD screen thanks to their Super AMOLED technology which presents a clear, vivid display which is viewable from almost any reasonable angle, and it certainly looks better than the specs might suggest.
For a midrange handset all the expected bells and whistles are here and the 'selfie' camera is particularly good, making it an excellent package for the younger buyer who might not have the buying power required for an Alpha or the new Galaxy S6. On that point it is difficult not the like the Samsung Galaxy A3.
If we have one gripe it is perhaps a little expensive for a low-mid handset, especially compared with the Moto G or the Lumia 730. That metal cladding has been long awaited, but it doesn't come cheap now it has finally arrived.
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