While Samsung’s super flagships like their upcoming Galaxy S22 and their current Galaxy S21 as well as their Galaxy Z foldables take the limelight, not everyone needs the smartphone equivalent of a Bentley which is where the cheerfully cheap Samsung Galaxy A03 comes into the picture but is it worth the money? Here’s our Samsung Galaxy A03 review where we find out!
What is the Samsung Galaxy A03
The Samsung Galaxy A03 is intended as an affordable entry level phone in their line-up that prioritises value with all the trappings common to a phone in its price range. What this translates to is a phone that handles the essentials competently like making calls, basic web browsing and capturing photos under ideal conditions.
Up front, you have a 6.5-inch Infinity V TFT display with HD+ resolution and a modest 60Hz refresh rate. The V-shaped cutout at the top of the phone hosts a 5MP selfie camera.
The base of the phone hosts a mono speaker, a 3.5mm audio jack with Dolby Atmos support and a microUSB port for charging and docking duties. The left side of the phone hosts a triple card slot that lets you add in two nano SIM cards and a microSD at the same time. The right hosts a power button and volume rocker.
On the rear, our Galaxy A03 review sample features a non-removable polycarbonate backplate with a subtle thatched texture that helps to repel fingerprints and makes it pleasantly grippy as well. Our Galaxy A03 review unit comes in a shade of black though you can alternatively get it in blue or red for Malaysia. Emplaced in the upper left corner is a dual camera array with an LED flash.
Overall build quality for the Samsung Galaxy A03 is solid if rather plasticky with an even heft while the edges are gently curved to make it easier to grip while minimising the chances of it snagging on claptrap in your pockets.
One thing to note though is that the Samsung Galaxy A03 lacks any water or dust resistance and there’s no official mention if it uses any form of protective Gorilla Glass but that’s understandably rare at this price point.
Bar the phone, the rest of the items bundled with the Galaxy A03 packaging include a microUSB to USB-A cable, a modest UK-style 7.8W charger and the usual warranty paperwork. Seeing as chargers are becoming increasingly rare these days, it’s a pleasant bonus to see one included at this price point.
Samsung Galaxy A03 Review – Specifications and Performance
Our Samsung Galaxy A03 review sample for Malaysia came with the following specifications:
|Price||RM469 (3GB RAM/32GB) RM549 (4GB RAM/64GB)|
|Display||6.5-inch PLS TFT Infinity V display , 720 x 1,600 pixels, 270ppi, 60Hz|
|Processor||Octacore 1.6GHz ( 6 ARM Cortex A75 1.61GHz, 2 ARM Cortex A75 1.61GHz)|
|Memory||4GB RAM/ 64GB + microSD card|
|Cameras||48MP F/1.8 autofocus + 2MP F/2.4 depth sensor [rear] / 5MP F/2.2 [front]|
|Size/Weight||164.2 x 75.9 x 9.1mm / 196g|
For Malaysia, you get two potential storage configurations with a 3GB RAM/32GB variant and in the case of our Galaxy A03 review unit, a 4GB RAM/64GB version with both variants being otherwise identical in colourways, processor and design.
The processor under the hood is an interesting curiosity as it can’t be identified beyond its base specifications. After poking around a bit, it’s an octacore processor with a relatively common big.LITTLE architecture with a pair of ARM Cortex A75 cores clocked at 1.61GHz and six ARM Cortex A55 cores for grunt work that are also clocked at 1.61GHz. This is paired with Mali G57 graphics.
This setup and the Galaxy A03’s price tag mark it out as an entry level processor with a modest performance envelope. In terms of connectivity, our Galaxy A03 review sample has the basics with 4G LTE, WiFi 5 802.11ac and Bluetooth 5.0.
While the modest 64GB of onboard storage is plenty for casual users, those needing more can avail themselves of a dedicated microSD card slot capable of augmenting onboard storage by up to 1TB if needed.
Under the hood, the phone runs Android 11 using a simplified version of their OneUI user interface called OneUI Core that optimises performance for entry level phones. Most important of all, they’ve kept it clean and there is a minimum of irksome bloatware running about the phone.
When subjected to synthetic benchmarks, our Galaxy A03 review sample scored the following:
|3D Mark Wild Life||412|
|3D Mark Wild Life Unlimited||408|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme||112|
|3D Mark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited||110|
|3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme||967|
|3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme Unlimited||966|
|3D Mark Sling Shot Extreme Vulkan||950|
|Geekbench 5 Single Core Score||294|
|Geekbench 5 Multi Core Score||1,177|
|Geekbench 5 OpenCL score||509|
|Geekbench 5 Vulkan score||514|
|PCMark Work 3.0 Performance||6,839|
|PCMark Work 3.0 Battery Life||12 hours 10 mins|
This isn’t exactly stellar performance but it does exceed the capabilities of the Galaxy Tab A7 Lite’s modest Helio P22T CPU and is capable of general duties like web browsing and very light gaming.
It was capable of handling PUBG and Call of Duty Mobile with low graphics settings so it could be pressed into service as a makeshift gaming device in a pinch. As long as you keep your expectations modest and don’t go editing videos, tabbing through a dozen browser tabs and attempting to multitask on this, the Galaxy A03 will do just fine.
The 6.5-inch HD+ display on the Galaxy A03 is large and offers a fair amount of detail and brightness with relatively vibrant colours while its large sized display means that it’s ideal for more senior users who need larger font sizes for easier reading.
Unfortunately, it lacks some of the more sophisticated features of its higher-end brethren like more durable protective glass, HDR10+ support or a higher refresh rate as it’s capped at a standard 60Hz. Even so, the HD+ resolution works in the phone’s favour as it helps to further enhance its most desirable attribute next to its modest price tag – it’s battery life.
Audio from the solo mono speaker at the base harkens back to late 2000’s smartphones with fairly loud volume but unremarkable detail and clarity. It’s usable for calls on speaker and the odd video or two and mainstream music. If that doesn’t quite appeal, the Galaxy A03 is one of the few phones in the market at present that retains a 3.5mm audio jack which marks it as a rarity indeed.
Battery life on the Galaxy A03 is phenomenal on its built-in 5,000mAh battery and in PCMark’s battery test, it was able to last a whopping 12 hours and 10 minutes.
In practical field tests, it easily manages to last over two days with casual use with a few minutes of calls, several hours of web browsing and video watching per day and liberal use of social media. Charging it takes close to two hours on the bundled 7.8W charging but the phone itself lacks any fast charging support so you’ll have to work around these limitations.
Overall performance for the Galaxy A03 can be considered fair for its price point with enough performance for day to day general usage with a particular emphasis on its exceptional battery life and large display.
Samsung Galaxy A03 Review – Cameras
Our Galaxy A03 review sample has a fairly modest camera setup with the rear sporting a dual camera array that consists of a 48MP F/1.8 sensor with autofocus and a secondary 2MP depth sensor. The main primary camera is capable of up to 1080P@30fps video and up to 10x digital zoom by cropping the sensor. The front 5MP fixed focus selfie camera is also capable of 1080p@30fps video but lacks any digital zoom options.
The camera interface is pared down from the full-fledged ones seen in higher end Galaxy models and has a simplified Pro mode which only allows for you to tweak white balance, ISO and exposure along with the usual smattering of food, panorama and night mode.
Performance on the rear dual camera is markedly improved over earlier generations on account of its large 48MP sensor with its bright F/1.8 aperture though you’ll still need to keep your expectations modest.
In daylight conditions, our Galaxy A03 review sample’s rear cameras were able to deliver pretty good shots though stills beyond 2x digital zoom start exhibiting noticeable softness.
In low light, shots are soft and grainy but the provided Night mode which requires a 4-second shutter delay helps salvage a bit more light detail for photos. Videos on the rear camera are serviceable for casual use and a TikTok or two but there’s noticeable judder and you’ll need bright lights for best results.
The front selfie camera isn’t exactly the best in its class and needs good light to get decent selfies but does the job.
You’re not going to get award winning NatGeo shots with this phone but you’ll be able to take fair food shots and a decent smattering of scenery and selfies with a tripod and some patience.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy A03
The Samsung Galaxy A03 is an exemplary example of a budget phone with a large display and a huge battery along with the added bonus of a 3.5mm audio jack and expandable memory via a dedicated microSD card slot.
For RM549, you’re getting a well built, affordable phone that is a solid shot across the bow for other budget phone vendors. The cheaper variant does look tempting but it’s well worth the extra outlay to get more RAM and storage.
Samsung Galaxy A03 review sample courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. For more details please visit https://www.samsung.com/my/smartphones/galaxy-a/galaxy-a03-black-32gb-sm-a035fzkdxme/
Samsung Galaxy A03
Samsung Galaxy A03
The Samsung Galaxy A03 epitomises the ideals of a budget phone with essential features that include a large display and long battery life with a fair performance to price ratio at a modest price tag.
Excellent battery life
Fair performance to price ratio
Comes with charger, still has a 3.5mm audio jack
Uses a microUSB port
No fast charging support