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Samsung Galaxy J3 review

It’s been a while since Samsung’s made a really good budget handset, hence why the Galaxy J51 was such a pleasant surprise when we reviewed it back in March. In many ways, it was the first handset to come along that really give Motorola’s 3rd Gen Moto G2 a run for its money, as it not only had an incredible battery life, but it also had a stunning Super AMOLED display, which is a real rarity at this end of the market. In that regard, it was even more surprising to see a Super AMOLED display again, this time, on the even cheaper Samsung Galaxy J3.


Much like the J5 and 3rd Gen Moto G, the J3 has a 5in display with a 1,280×720 resolution. However, its AMOLED screen technology blows almost every other budget smartphone out of the water – except the J5, of course – as I measured perfect, inky 0.00cd/m2 blacks, 100% sRGB colour gamut coverage and a ultra-high contrast ratio that really makes colours pop out of the screen with a wonderful sense of vibrancy and saturation.

Samsung Galaxy J3 Review

In essense, you’re getting the same level of quality as one of Samsung’s top-end smartphones on a handset that costs a fraction of the price, putting it miles in front of its LCD-based rivals. However, Samsung’s Super AMOLED displays aren’t completely perfect, as they often fail fall behind LCD when it comes to overall brightness. For instance, the J3 could only reach a maximum brightness level of 317.5cd/m2, which is quite low compared to other budget handsets. Sony’s 190 Xperia M4 Aqua3, for instance, can reach up to 534.3cd/m2. However, a reading of around 300cd/m2 is still more than usable outdoors. That said, if you don’t find this is sufficient, Samsung’s included a handy new feature on the J3 called Outdoor mode. Instead of having an ‘auto mode’ tickbox next to the brightness slider in the notification pane, you’ll find a tickbox for ‘Outdoors’ instead, which pumps up the brightness for up to 15 minutes so it’s easier to use in bright sunshine. With this enabled, I measured a much more impressive max brightness of 447.8cd/m2, which puts it on a much more level playing field with other LCD smartphones. You probably won’t need to use this mode very often, but at least it provides a bit of flexibility, giving you the best of both worlds when it comes to screen quality and brightness.


There are no real surprises when it comes to the J3 s build quality, as it shares many of the same design cues as its fellow J series stablemates. There s matt plastic in abundance, but it’s still pretty robust, and it sits in your hand very comfortably.

The only slightly divisive thing about the J3 is its rather bizarre front panel, as its black bezels extend up and around the top speaker, while the capacitative buttons are still white. It’s not the most attractive smartphone we’ve ever seen, but otherwise it’s relatively inoffensive.

Samsung Galaxy J3 Review

Performance and Battery Life

However, just because they all look alike doesn’t mean they all offer the same levels of performance. The J1, for instance, makes do with just a dual-core Cortex A7 processor, while the J5 has a much more powerful quad-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 410 chipset. The J3, on the other hand, uses a quad-core 1.5GHz Spreadtrum SC9830i, which is paired with 1.5GB of RAM.

With two more cores at its disposal, the J3 offers a considerable step up in performance over the J1, as its score of 1,054 in the Geekbench 3 multicore test can attest. However, it’s still not quite enough to beat the J5, as the J3 was 100 points behind the J5 in the single core test with its result of 362, and over 300 points behind in the multicore test. The J3 still feels pretty nippy when you’re scrolling and swiping through Android, but it will start to struggle when you’re using multiple apps simultaneously.

Surprisingly, the J3 s Peacekeeper browser benchmark score of 774 was actually faster than the J5 by over 100 points. However, this still doesn’t eliminate all signs of stutter, as media-heavy websites in particular still tended to be quite jerky in places when scrolling up and down articles.

Samsung Galaxy J3 Review

It’s no gaming machine either, as the J3 wasn’t able to run our usual Manhattan test in GFX Bench GL. Instead, I ran GFX Bench’s T-Rex test, where it managed 423.9 frames (about 7.9fps) in the onscreen test and 251 frames (4.5fps) in the offscreen test. This is far from stellar, and complex games like Hearthstone were completely out of the question. However, if you’re only intending to play more casual games like Alphabear and Candy Crush, then the J3 should still serve you reasonably well.

In terms of battery life, the J3 sat smack in the middle of the J1 and J5, as its 2,600mAh battery lasted a very respectable 13h 15m in our video playback test with the screen set to our standard brightness levl of 170cd/m2. As a result, you re not going to have many issues lasting a day away from a charger.


  1. ^ Galaxy J5 (
  2. ^ Motorola’s 3rd Gen Moto G (
  3. ^ Xperia M4 Aqua (

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