Samsung introduced Galaxy J3 last year and as a tradition with its phones, this year sees refreshed versions of last year’s models unveiled.
Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) is a low-end smartphone that is accompanied by other variants in the J series, namely Samsung Galaxy J1 and Samsung Galaxy J5. Even though the Galaxy J3 (2016) is an entry-level smartphone, the price tag of $220 is somehow unjustifiable, especially when looking at other devices that are available in the sub-$250 category.
Design and display
Of course, this price tag won’t give you a device with top notch specs, which is exactly what this year’s Galaxy J3 is, despite the fact that it is a huge step up from last year’s variant. If you are not a heavy user, this device will definitely fit your style for it can be described simply as a jack of all trades.
As far as design is concerned, Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) is no different from typical budget phones from Samsung, featuring rounded corners and chamfered edges. You will also notice a conspicuous Samsung logo at the top as well as the presence of a physical home button.
If you thought Samsung is done with plastic builds, you will be surprised to see one on the Galaxy J3. However, unlike the textured covers Samsung has been using in its previous models, the plastic material used on the J3 (2016) is very smooth, featuring a sparkling finish that gives it a more than decent look when compared to other low-end plastic-made devices. However, you will be surprised with the style or finish you get with a Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 or OnePlus X, both of which are priced in the same category as the J3.
In addition, this entry-level phone keeps the removable battery feature that the flagships lost beginning last year.
For a budget phone, you will still be getting plenty of quality on the phone’s 5-inch Full-HD Super AMOLED screen, 2400mAh battery unit and room to expand onboard storage up to 128GB. The device comes in gold, white and black editions. The phone can be bought as either a single SIM or dual-SIM and the internal storage also varies.
Hardware and software
At this price tag, Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) won’t make it against quite a number of phones, especially those with a Chinese origin. Samsung went for a low-tier 32-bit quad-core SoC clocked at a speed of 1.5GHz and is backed by a RAM of just 1.5GB. There are lots of sub-$250 phones that pack Snapdragon 615 and 616 chipsets, which means Galaxy J3’s Spreadtrum SC7731 is nothing close to what Xiaomi offers in its mid-level devices.
As mentioned earlier, this device’s performance specs are a welcome for non-demanding users. However, it might become some sought of a concern when it comes to the 8GB of onboard storage. While there is still a 16GB variant available, this might still be insignificant for some users. The good thing is that there is support for a microSD card slot, which can hold up to 128GB.
Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) packs all the latest connectivity basics. It supports single-band 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, NFC as well as Bluetooth 4.1. As far as LTE is concerned, you will only get Cat4, which is slightly slower than what modern flagships come with.
While Android 6.0 Marshmallow is the latest operating system for Android-based devices like Samsung Galaxy J3, this device comes with Android 5.1.1 Lollipop out of the box. You will come across the usual TouchWiz UI, but this one comes without the bells and whistles that accompany the flagship models, for instance, Pop Up View or even Multi-Window View, a feature that Google is working to bake into the upcoming Android N.
The good side of the Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)’s software is that it comes preinstalled with a bunch of Microsoft-based apps, which should enhance the phone’s productivity. Further, users will enjoy 100GB of free storage on OneDrive. One disappointing thing about these Microsoft apps is that they cannot be uninstalled.
The rear of Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) has an 8MP sensor with an aperture of f/2.2. While you won’t get high-end photos with this sensor, the quality on offer is still decent. The good thing is that the snapper adds some amazing features such as HDR, Panorama, and Continuous shot, LED flash, among others. On the front panel, there is a 5MP selfie sensor, which should also be decent enough for all your video calling needs. If anything, the camera specs of this device somehow justify its price tag.
At a price of about $220, Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) will still suit many users out there. However, it cannot be termed as a cheap, quality phone, especially when the likes of Xiaomi Redmi 3, Xiaomi Redmi Note 3 or even the slightly expensive OnePlus X are available.