Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) camera review: With a 13-megapixel primary camera and an 8-megapixel front-facer the new Samsung Galaxy A3 doesn’t pack quite the same punch as its larger A Series siblings but does that mean it isn’t any good at snapping photos? Let’s find out.
Whilst it doesn’t possess as many megapixels as the A5 (2017)’s sensors it does share in their wide f/1.9 aperture, which should go some way to alleviate the nasties brought on by shooting in poorly lit environments. There’s no fancy optical image stabilisation (OIS) either, which would have been nice, but instead, Samsung has been able to remove the camera bump found on its predecessor entirely.
Check out our full Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 review for all you need to know about this affordable Galaxy handset.
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Camera Review: UI
2017’s A Series was our first taste of a significantly reworked camera interface from Samsung. Designed to improve ease of navigation and prioritise one-handed use, we’ve now seen it pushed out as an update to the likes of last year’s Galaxy S7 handsets as well serve as the basis for the new experience found on the latest Galaxy S8.
The viewfinder places video and shutter buttons, a gallery shortcut, flash controls and a few other fundamentals at your fingertips but all it takes is one motion to move to the mode switcher (by swiping right), the real-time filter gallery (by swiping left) or the front camera (by swiping up or down).
You have access to manual control in Pro mode (although it only lets you tweak white balance, ISO and exposure), HDR shooting, a night mode and, as a new addition, a dedicated food mode because Instagram is a thing. You can also download new filters and modes from the Samsung Apps store from within the camera interface but pickings are pretty slim with Sport Shot and Animated GIF being the only two options we could see when we tried adding new modes.
You can also augment the basic shooting experience from within the camera’s settings menu, letting you configure a quick-launch action and alternative capture methods like the positionable ‘floating shutter’ as well as gesture and voice-based solutions too
Beauty tools are available when using either camera, however, one general slider becomes three discrete controls when flipping to the A3’s front-facer (face slimming, eye enlargement and skin softening), whilst the mode selection screen also changes to include a wide-selfie option as a sort of front-facing panorama mode.
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Camera Review: Picture quality
As is often the case with more conservative hardware natural light often yields the best results and that’s certainly true of the A3’s hardware. You can expect accurate colours and contrast with respectably fast autofocus and auto contrast adjustment, however, the shutter does take a little longer than we’d like to fire off a snap, even if it still captures in under a second.
The phone’s HDR mode is useful for dealing with particularly high contrast environments, provided there’s still plenty of light around, as its effects are subdued when shooting darker scenes. We were also surprised to find that the A3 boasts competent macro shooting abilities with pleasing amounts of bokeh, whilst leaving only the finest details muddied.
For the best results in darker conditions the integrated night mode helps brighten and sharpen up images which would otherwise fall prey to grain and lacklustre detail or there’s the option of the single LED flash, which produces as balanced colours and contrast as you’d expect, even if the resultant images aren’t all that pleasing to the eye, simply due to the nature of using an undiffused single point light source.
Jump around to the front camera and the A3 takes respectably sharp selfies in natural light and the beauty tools, when not abused, can be used to add tasteful tweaks to your visage.
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Camera Review: Video quality
When shooting video the A3 features a concise range of resolution options for both the front and rear cameras that can be set independently. Both let you shoot in VGA through to 720p HD and Full HD quality at 30fps with a 1:1 square format that captures 1072×1072 footage as well.
As with shooting stills, the A3 handles colours accurately well and boasts snappy automatic contrast adjustment, however, no form of image stabilisation means small shakes and jitters are immediately picked up in footage. What’s more, the autofocus sometimes needs an assistive poke to adjust appropriately and the stereo audio recording lacks bass.
Samsung Galaxy A3 (2017) Camera Review: Verdict
Whilst the Galaxy A3’s cameras tick all the fundamental boxes for what you’d expect from a pair of 2017 mid-range snappers it’s a case of software outshining hardware with this latest member of the A Series.
The 2017 Galaxy A3 packs a respectable pair of cameras into its small frame but rivals like the similarly-priced Sony Xperia XA1 might have it beat when it comes to overall imaging prowess. That said, the simplified interface and feature set means it’s fast to navigate and easy to use even if a sluggish shutter and slow autofocus might prove frustrating when trying to catch those spur-of-the-moment events.