Does the cheapest Samsung Galaxy phone have what it takes?
Samsung Galaxy J3 Review: Design & Display
The Samsung Galaxy J3 is basically the most affordable phone in Samsung’s Android handset catalogue. While much of Samsung’s range has switched to using metal and glass, even with the budget-to-mid-tier Galaxy A-series, the Galaxy J3 is very much of the old school Samsung style, being made from plastic. That said, you can’t necessarily expect premium build at this much lower price point, and despite the plastic shell the visual design is very similar to Samsung’s higher end devices.
Unlike older plastic handsets, the Galaxy J3 is not some chunky beast, it’s nice and thin, fairly lightweight, and well proportioned for a comfortable fit in the hand. Users may, however, find a bit of creak, seeing as how the back panel is removable like the old days. On the other hand, however, this does mean the battery is removable, which is something you barely ever find in the modern market and is missed by a certain sector of consumers.
The display is a 5in Super AMOLED panel with a 720p HD resolution. You’ll likely struggle to find a better quality display at this price point, as Super AMOLED is pretty much the dominant tech for high-end displays of the flagship variety. Colour, contrast, brightness, black depth and viewing angles are all excellent. For this size of screen 720p offers decent levels of clarity and sharpness, however, it’s fair to say that a similar size and resolution in LCD would likely offer a sharper image due to the avoidance of the PenTile sub-pixel arrangement, which has a tendency to fuzz things up ever so slightly.
The Galaxy J3 is quite disappointing on the storage side of things. 16GB of onboard is pretty standard at this price point now, but the Galaxy J3 only has 8GB, although microSD is supported. It does have 4G and NFC capabilities as well, though personally I would have happily traded the NFC for more storage.
Samsung has also made a somewhat excessive cut in the processor department with a Spreadtrum SC8830 1.2GHz quad-core CPU. It’s 32-bit and only has 1.5GB RAM at its disposal. This is looking pretty anemic compared to more recent offerings from the Moto G series, just to name one example. Performance is OK, but not great.
The battery is a 2,600mAh setup, which is again removable so you can carry spares. It gives about a day’s worth of charge with moderate use, but heavier power users won’t like things much - having said which, quite what a power user is doing with a sub-£200 phone would be anyone’s guess.
Samsung Galaxy J3 Review: Camera
I wouldn’t expect a very powerful camera on this tier of device, but it’s actually not too bad with the Galaxy J3. It’s an 8MP f/2.2 setup that performs better than I’d expected without being stellar, while the HDR mode does enhance things quite well. However, again considering most rivals in this price tier are rocking 13MP sensors, this isn’t looking too hot.
Samsung Galaxy J3 Review: Verdict
Overall this is not a bad offering from Samsung for the price, but there are much better competing handsets out there, most notably from Motorola, which cost about the same and give better performance, a better camera, more storage, and sometimes even bonus features such as waterproofing.