Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) Review


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Samsung launched the Galaxy J3 (2016), it’s new 4G smartphone with new S bike mode in India for Rs. 8,990 couple of weeks back. It has almost similar specifications as last year’s Galaxy J2. Is the successor worth the price? Let us find out in the complete review.

Unboxing

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We unboxed the smartphone recently, check out the video below.

Box Contents

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  • Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) smartphone in Golden color
  • 2-pin charger (5V-1A)
  • Micro USB cable
  • Headset with microphone
  • S bike NFC tag
  • 2600mAh battery
  • User manual and warranty information

Display, Hardware and Design

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The Galaxy J3 (2016) has a 5-inch Super AMOLED display with a pixel resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels and a pixel density of around 294 PPI. The display is sharp and bright, has good viewing angles, offers vibrant color output and the sunlight visibility is also good. Blacks are perfectly black, thanks to the AMOLED panel. The display is definitely good compared to last year’s J2  that comes with 4.7-inch qHD screen.

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On the top there is a 5-megapixel fixed focus camera with f/2.2 aperture. Selfie shots are pretty good in daylight and the images obviously have a lot of noise when captured indoors in low lighting conditions. The front camera can record videos at HD resolution. It has a proximity sensor next to the earpiece, but the smartphone lacks an ambient light sensor, even though there is a cutout for it. It also lacks gyroscope, magnetometer and notification LED.

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There is Samsung’s signature home button below the display. The capacitive touch buttons for menu and back are present on either sides of the home button. These are not backlit, neither offer haptic feedback when pressed.

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The power button or lock button is present on the right side and the phone is 7.9mm thick. Even though the phone has shiny rim running on the sides, the phone doesn’t slip out of your hands easily.


The volume rockers are present on the left side, the micro USB slot is present on the bottom along with a microphone and the 3.5mm audio jack is present on the top.

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The design of the phone is exactly same as the Galaxy J2 with leather-like back cover. Even though it has plastic build, the quality of the phone is good. It is 71mm wide, 142.3mm tall, which is good for a smartphone with a 5-inch screen. It weighs 138 grams. We have the Gold variant of the phone, but it also comes in Black and White colors. There is a 8-megapixel auto focus camera on the back with single LED flash. The loudspeaker grill is present next to it. The 4G branding is present on the bottom part of the back.

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The secondary SIM card slot is present below the camera, while the microSD card slot is present next to it. The primary SIM slot is present below the microSD slot. The microSD slot is hot swappable, but you need to remove the battery to access the SIM slots.

Camera

The 8-megapixel auto focus camera with f/2.2 aperture is just average. Daylight shots are good, but the images are not bright. Macro shots came out well, but HDR shots are just average since there is no much difference compared to the normal image. Low light images have a lot of noise and images with flash are decent, but not the best. Apart from the auto mode, it has Pro mode that lets you adjust white balance, ISO and exposure manually. Other modes are Panorama, Continuous shot, Beauty face, Sound & shot and Sports.

Check out some camera samples (Click the image to view full resolution sample.)

Daylight

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Macro

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Samsung-Galaxy-J3-2016-Sample-4_macro

HDR

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HDR OFF
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HDR ON

Low-light

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Flash

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It can record videos at 720p HD resolution at 30 fps. Video is decent for an 8-megapixel camera, but the audio is not crisp since it doesn’t have a secondary microphone. Check out the video sample below.

Software

Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 Home, Notification, About

Coming to the software, it runs on Android 5.1.1 (Lollipop) with Samsung’s own UI on top and also includes Android security update for March. Samsung doesn’t usually offer major updates for their budget smartphones, so it is not clear if the phone will get Android 6.0 (Marshmallow) update. You can launch the dialer and camera easily from the lock screen. The drop-down notification bar has several toggles and lets you customize the row accordingly. It also has brightness slider with a toggle for outdoor mode since it doesn’t have an ambient light sensor.

Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 S bile mode

The main highlight of the smartphone is the new S bike mode that can be activated by tapping the Galaxy J3 on the NFC tag or by pressing the S bike icon on the phone’s Quick toggle Panel. Once you activate the S bike mode, a pre-recorded message informs the caller that you are currently riding a bike. If the call is urgent, the caller can choose to press 1 to get through.

You can choose to take the call if it is urgent and the Motion Lock feature lets you take the call only after you have stopped your bike safely. It also shows the total travel time and also lets you earn bronze, silver and gold badges after you have traveled 50, 500 and 1000km, respectively. This is definitely a good feature that every phone should come with, but it is highly doubtful if people would buy phone only for this feature.

Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 UDS and Smart Manager

The Ultra data saving mode powered by Opera Max compresses cellular data across all contents such as videos, photos, media, almost all apps and websites. It compresses and reroutes data to the data-savings cloud using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). You can also add app exceptions if you don’t want data from an app to be compressed. It offers timeline of app usage and how much data is saved in a day or month. You can also check out data savings by individual app as well. The Smart Manager app lets you manage your device’s battery life, storage, RAM usage, and security all in one place.

Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 RAM, Storage, Move to SD

Out of 1.5GB of RAM, you get 1.36GB of usable RAM, out of which about 645MB of RAM is free when the default apps running in the background. Out of 8GB of internal storage, just 4.27GB of storage is usable. You can also move compatible apps to the SD card when you insert one, but the internal memory runs out after installing some apps.

Apps

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Apart from the usual set of utility apps and Google Apps, the smartphone comes with Microsoft apps, Bubble Bash 3, Midnight Pool 2, Prince of Persia and Zombie Infection 2 games. Wish Samsung had reduced the number of pre-installed games.

Music Player and FM Radio

Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 Music Player and FM Radio

It doesn’t have a dedicated music player, so you have to rely on Google Play Music. It also doesn’t have equalizer, but it has SoundAlive+ and Tube Amp sound effects that can be enabled from the settings. This improves the audio when listening through earphones. That said, audio through the bundled earphones is decent, but the loudspeaker output is not loud even in full volume. It has FM Radio with auto scanning and recording, which lets you store the recorded files in phone memory or SD card.

Dual SIM and Connectivity

Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 Dual SIM and Connectivity

It has the usual set of connectivity features such as Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.1, GPS and also comes with NFC support that most budget phones lack. It has 4G connectivity with support for TD-LTE 2300MHz (Band 40) and FDD-LTE 1800MHz (Band 3) for India. Both the SIMs support 4G, but you can enable 4G only in one SIM at a time, while the other goes to 2G.

You can set preferred SIM for voice call, text and data from the SIM card manager. As usual it has Smart Dual SIM feature, similar to other latest Samsung Dual SIM smartphones. This automatically forwards calls from the phone number on SIM 2, even if a user is on the phone with SIM 1’s number. It also has USB on-the-go (OTG) support.

Performance and Benchmarks

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Coming to the performance, the 1.5GHz quad-core Spreadtrum SC9830 processor offers average performance and there are occasional lags, but it doesn’t have any heating issues. 1.5GB of RAM can handle multitasking fine, but the Spreadtrum processor with ARM’s Cortex A7 CPU is not powerful compared to Snapdragon 410 with Cortex A53 64-bit CPU found in most mid-range 4G smartphones in the market. Check out some synthetic benchmark scores below.

AnTuTu Benchmark 5

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It scored 23749 points in the AnTuTu benchmark 5.

Geekbench 3 Multi-Core

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It managed to score 1281 points in the Geekbench 3 Multi-Core benchmark.

3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited

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It managed to score 3702 points in the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited GPU benchmark.

Basemark OS II

Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 Basemark OS II

It managed to clock 419 points in the Basemark OS II benchmark. Check out the complete set of Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) benchmarks here. It has Mali-400 GPU. We tried several games, and some games were decent, but graphics was not the best.

Battery life

Coming to battery life, the 2600mAh battery less than a day from average to heavy use. With minimal use, it lasts for a day. The power saving mode and ultra power saving mode lets you extend the battery life. The smartphone also has a removable battery, so you can swap it easily when required. In our battery test the smartphone achieved a One Charge Rating of 10 hours and 10 minutes, which is not impressive for a phone with a 2600mAh battery and a 5-inch HD screen. It also lacks fast charging so it take about 2 and half hours to charge the phone. The Galaxy J2 achieved a One Charge Rating of 12 hours and 56 minutes, even though it has just 2000mAh battery. We will bring you the complete set of Samsung Galaxy J3 2016’s battery life test results soon.

Conclusion

At a price tag of Rs. 8,990, the Galaxy J3 (2016) is just an average budget 4G smartphone from Samsung. It comes with a good Super AMOLED display for the price, has 4G support and has unique S bike mode along with NFC, but Samsung has missed out the ambient light sensor for auto brightness adjustment, yet again and the performance is also not the best. Even though these is an 8-megapixel camera, the quality could have been better and just 4GB of usable storage is definitely not enough.

It also comes with double data offer for Vodafone 4G customers, which is good, but the phone is exclusively available only on Snapdeal. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone.

Pros

  • Good display
  • S Bike mode, NFC
  • Decent front camera
  • Decent battery life

Cons

  • Lacks ambient light sensor
  • Average performance
  • Average rear camera
  • Loudspeaker output is low

Author: Srivatsan Sridhar

Srivatsan Sridhar is a Mobile Technology Enthusiast who is passionate about Mobile phones and Mobile apps. He uses the phones he reviews as his main phone. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram