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Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) review: Good, but no match for the Moto G

Samsung Galaxy J3 lead
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £150
inc VAT

The Samsung Galaxy J3 is a respectable budget smartphone, but it just can't compete with the £10 more expensive Galaxy J5


Processor: Quad-core 1.5GHz Spreadtrum SC9830i, Screen Size: 5in, Screen resolution: 1,280×720, Rear camera: 8 megapixels, Storage (free): 8GB (4.7GB), Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 142x71x7.9mm, Weight: 138g, Operating system: Android 5.1.1

Buy the Samsung Galaxy J3 now from Mobile Fun


Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) review: Camera

The Galaxy J3 is equipped with an 8-megapixel rear camera and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. As you’d expect from the middle J series, sibling, this offers higher resolution photos than the Galaxy J1, but not such detailed shots as the 13-megapixel rear camera on the Galaxy J5. The J3 also only has 8GB of built-in storage (just 4.7GB of which is available to the user), so you’ll likely want to make use of the microSD slot, which supports cards up to 128GB.

Outdoor performance was pretty respectable for such a cheap phone, as colours were bright and accurate even in overcast weather conditions. However, detail was rather lacking, as finer details tended to be very soft and muddy. It also struggled to expose bright clouds correctly, although switching over to its HDR mode quickly helped sort this out. 


Samsung Galaxy J3 camera test^ In Auto mode, the J3’s camera struggled to expose brighter patches of cloud and sky

Samsung Galaxy J3 camera test HDR^ Switch to HDR mode, however, and those bright clouds suddenly reappear

Indoor performance was decent, but you’ll have to work around the camera’s slow shutter speeds when you’re not using the flash. As a result, you’ll need to make a concerted effort to help minimise camera shake, as all of our test shots came out quite blurry even when we turned on our external studio lights. Ultimately, the indoor performance is adequate for a £150 smartphone, but you’ll want to make maximum use of whatever natural light you can. 

Samsung Galaxy J3 indoor camera^ Contrast was decidedly lacking indoors, and object outlines were very soft and hazy as well



The Samsung Galaxy J3 is certainly a respectable budget smartphone for £150, but with very little difference compared to the Galaxy J5 in terms of price – just £10 at the time of writing the review in 2016 – I can’t think of any reason why you’d pick this instead. Both have an excellent display, but the Galaxy J5 is faster, longer lasting and has a far superior camera, making it much better value overall.

Of course, there’s also the 3rd Gen Moto G to consider as well. This is just as fast as the J5 and has one of the best budget cameras we’ve ever seen. It also runs the latest version of Android, making it feel newer and more up to date than Samsung’s J series, all of which only run Android 5.1.1.

Samsung’s notoriously bad at providing its cheaper handsets with free OTA updates for newer versions of Android, so those that want all the latest Android features such as Doze and Now on Tap should probably pick the Moto G instead. For me, the Moto G is still our favourite budget smartphone, but if you’re not fussed about what version of Android you’re running and value having a long battery life, then Samsung’s Galaxy J5 is still the J series phone to buy.

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ProcessorQuad-core 1.5GHz Spreadtrum SC9830i
Screen size5in
Screen resolution1,280×720
Screen typeSuper AMOLED
Front camera5 megapixels
Rear camera8 megapixels
Storage (free)8GB (4.7GB)
Memory card slot (supplied)microSD
Wi-FiBluetooth 4.1
Wireless data3G, 4G
Operating systemAndroid 5.1.1
Battery size2,600mAh
Buying information
WarrantyOne year RTB
Price SIM-free (inc VAT)£150
Price on contract (inc VAT)Free on £13-per-month contract
Prepay price (inc VAT)£120
Part codeSM-J320FZWNBTU

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