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Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 vs A5 2017 vs A7 2017: Great value Galaxy phones compared

We compare the Galaxy A3 2017, Galaxy A5 2017 and Galaxy A7 2017, three Samsung smartphones that have been updated and improved from their original forms.

Samsung Mobile is obviously best known for its Galaxy S Series flagship phones, such as the gorgeous new Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus. Not too surprising, given the number of ads on the telly and out in the wild.

However, if you can't afford those steep contract prices, an alternative option is Samsung's Galaxy A Series.

Read next: The best budget phones you can buy, from £50 to £250

What are the Samsung Galaxy A Series smartphones?

Samsung's Galaxy A family comes in three different flavours: the Galaxy A3, Galaxy A5 and Galaxy A7. These phones offer slightly lesser specs and fewer features when compared with the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, for a much more affordable final price.

Although they aren't as powerful or feature-packed, the Galaxy A3, A5 and A7 still offer quite a premium mobile experience. Samsung updates the Galaxy A Series phones each year and 2017 is no exception, delivering the logically-named Galaxy A3 2017, Galaxy A5 2017 and Galaxy A7 2017 handsets. These are similar to earlier models, although Samsung has upgraded them with new features while bumping up the specs.

Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 vs A5 2017 vs A7 2017: Specs

Phone Galaxy A3 2017 Galaxy A5 2017 Galaxy A7 2017
Screen size 4.7-inches 5.2-inches 5.7-inches
Screen resolution 720x1280 1920x1080 1920x1080
Weight 138g 157g 186g
Water resistant? Yes Yes Yes
Fingerprint scanner? Yes Yes Yes
OS Android Marshmallow Android Marshmallow Android Marshmallow
Processor Exynos 7870 Exynos 7880 Exynos 7880
Memory 2GB 3GB 3GB
Battery 2350mAh 3000mAh 3600mAh
Storage 16GB 32GB 32GB
microSD? Yes (256GB) Yes (256GB) Yes (256GB)
Rear camera 13MP f/1.9 16MP f/1.9 16MP f/1.9
Front camera 8MP f/1.9 16MP f/1.9 16MP f/1.9

Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 vs A5 2017 vs A7 2017: Design

At a quick glance, you'll immediately notice one key difference between these three Samsung phones. The Galaxy A phones are all different sizes, from the dinky 4.7-inch A3 2017 up to the mighty 5.7-inch A7 2017. The Galaxy A5 2017 is the piggy-in-the-middle at 5.2-inches.

If you're after a compact handset that's easy to use with a single hand, the Galaxy A3 2017 is clearly the one for you. The A5 2017 is just about usable with one hand, while the A7 2017 demands two-handed use with its stocky frame.

All three phones sport a very similar design, despite their different sizes. You get a premium finish thanks to the metal frame and curved glass backing, which is reassuringly resistant to scratches and scuffs. Better yet, all three of these phones are water resistant. You can dunk them in fresh water for up to half an hour, with no ill effects.

Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 vs A5 2017 vs A7 2017: Features

When it comes to the operating system and general user experience, these three handsets are pretty much identical.

All three run Google's Android Marshmallow OS, with Samsung's overlay to jazz things up. We're shocked that the latest version of Android (nicknamed Nougat) doesn't come installed, as it's found on even the most budget of 2017 handsets - including the £85 Vodafone Smart N8. Hopefully Samsung will update this to Nougat soon, so we can enjoy features like the split-screen mode and improved resource management.

Still, Samsung has added some bonus bits into Marshmallow that are quite useful. The Secure Folder lets you lock away any apps and files that are particularly private. And at least you get some one-touch optimisation functions, to keep your Galaxy A phone running efficiently.

Of course you also get those pesky unremovable duplicate apps that Samsung places alongside Google’s native offerings, such as the web browser and media software.

All three handsets here, including the affordable Galaxy A3 2017, come with a fingerprint sensor built-in. To be fair that's something we expect on pretty much any phone that's £200 or above these days.

Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 vs A5 2017 vs A7 2017: Performance and battery life

The Galaxy A3 2017 is definitely the weakest of the trio when it comes to performance. That basic Exynos 7870 chipset, backed by just 2GB of RAM, is geared towards quite simple tasks. Web browsing, YouTube streaming and simple app play all works fine, without too much stutter or stammer. In the long term however, you're likely to see some slowdown before the other handsets here.

The Galaxy A5 and A7 2017 share the same, slightly more beefy processor - Samsung's own Exynos 7880. You get 3GB of memory in each case, for smoother performance when compared with their smaller brother.

As for battery life, the A3 2017 seems to win quite comfortably. You can expect close to two days of use between charges, even with quite regular fiddling. The other phones here offer around a day and a half between charges. All three mobiles also offer quick charge support, using an appropriate plug.

Samsung Galaxy A3 2017 vs A5 2017 vs A7 2017: Cameras

When it comes to the camera tech, the Galaxy A5 and A7 2017 are again pretty much identical. You get a 16-megapixel f/1.9 aperture snapper on both the front and back of these handsets, for capturing the world and your gorgeous mug in plenty of detail. They're very competent mid-range mobile shooters, as you'll see in our full camera review.

The Galaxy A3 2017 bumps down the specs somewhat, with a 13-megapixel rear camera and 8-megapixel front-facer. However, both lenses are again f/1.9 and can capture a respectable amount of detail in high-contrast and low light situations. Take a look at our Galaxy A3 2017 camera review for samples and more.

All three phones here can record up to Full HD resolution video.

What are the best alternatives to the Samsung Galaxy A3, A5 and A7 2017?

If you're not convinced by these Samsung handsets, you can choose from plenty of rival phones.

Sony's Xperia XA1 offers a compact and gorgeous design, respectable performance, great battery life and some impressive camera tech for just over £200, for instance. We're also massive fans of the Moto G5 Plus, which only lacks the water resistance of the Galaxy A phones.

If you'd rather have a bigger blower, check out the Honor 8 Pro. The Pro is built for media consumption on the move and boasts some truly stunning performance for the price.

Alternatively, if you want something a bit cheaper, check out Samsung's Galaxy J 2017 phones instead.

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