When Samsung introduced the Galaxy A03s last month, it positioned the smartphone as the kind of transition device a student can use when they transition into the workforce. It’s an option for those who want a smartphone but are working on a tight budget.
The Samsung Galaxy A03s is definitely a starter phone that introduces its user to Samsung’s ecosystem. But are you that buyer? I’ve listed the top reasons to spring for this smartphone.
You’re looking for your first smartphone, or you don’t demand too much
If you’re ready to get your starter smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy A03s wants you to consider it as a viable option. Under PHP 6,500 (around USD 129 converted), it won’t break the bank. If you got your first Christmas bonus, you might even be able to use that money to get this as a gift for yourself. (Or maybe you have a loved one in mind that needs a new phone.)
The Samsung Galaxy A03s feels like a mix of the old with the new. It has a triple rear camera module reminiscent of older Samsung devices; a matte, satin-like back that gives the black variant we have a nice classic look while keeping fingerprints at bay; a conveniently-placed side-mounted fingerprint sensor; teardrop design for the front camera; USB-C charging port; and a headphone jack. Those on team wired earphones will be happy about that last one.
Fingerprint unlocking is my preferred security option. And for the most part, it works well. It’s positioned where the right thumb can easily reach it. There are times when it doesn’t recognize my fingerprint easily. But because of its price, I’m a bit more forgiving about that.
With a 6.5-inch display, the Samsung Galaxy A03s will be a two-handed device for many users. The slight curves on the side make it easy to hold with one hand.
As a budget device, we aren’t surprised that it gets an older MediaTek Helio P35 paired with 4GB of RAM and 64GB of expandable storage, which lets you get up to 1TB. You’ll need that extra storage if you want to store a lot of files, photos, and the like on this phone. When we first started up the Samsung Galaxy A03s, it used around 13.6GB of storage, so storage expansion is your best friend. There is less bloatware from Samsung, but I can still do with fewer pre-installed apps.
It will perform as any other budget device would. It’s not the speediest smartphone, but that’s understandable for the price point. It is a smartphone built for non-demanding users. I’ve been able to use all social media apps on this phone; at times, it’ll take a second or two to load. But they’ll work fine. For those using smartphones for the first time, its limitations might not even bother them too much. It is possible to play casual games here, but don’t expect them to work beyond the low or mid settings.
The Samsung Galaxy A03s runs on Android 11 with One UI 3.1 Core on top of it. The core version of One UI is an optimized version of the user interface, but for Samsung’s entry-level or mid-range devices. Honestly, I couldn’t tell much of a difference from the pricier option. Samsung has still brought its cleaner UI into this phone. I can easily reach the notification bar and the app drawer with a swipe of my thumb. There are many things you can customize if you dig around in the settings. But the general experience won’t be intimidating to first-time smartphone users.
LiTT Tip #1: Accidentally swiped away a notification you wanted to read? You can view your notification history on this phone. Head to Settings > Notifications > Advanced settings > Notification history. There’s a toggle you can enable there to see notifications from the last 24 hours.
LiTT Tip #2: This phone might not have a notification light, but you can turn the flashlight at the back into one. Head to Settings > Accessibility > Advanced settings > Flash notification. The flashlight will blink if you receive a notification or when an alarm sounds.
You consume a lot of content and spend many hours on social media
If you spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos or browsing through different social media apps like TikTok, Instagram, and more, this phone can handle those needs just fine. I can even watch my favorite Korean variety shows on Viu on this phone. What’s missing, though, is access to Netflix. It seems you can install other streaming apps you want, though.
Audio coming out of the speaker is sufficiently loud. The quality is what you’d expect from a budget phone. But again, you can use wired or wireless earbuds to watch or listen to your favorite content. If you’re a big reader, this smartphone has a dark mode with an adaptive color filter and eye comfort shield tech.
The camera quality seems to be on par with what I expect budget phones to be at. It will crush highlights and shadows a lot, especially in low-light situations. But if you get the exposure right, you can get some clear, shareable shots out of it. Samsung arms the Galaxy A03s with a 13-megapixel primary sensor and 2-megapixel depth and macro lenses at the back, and a 5-megapixel front-facing camera. I like that the selfie camera has the option to zoom out a bit so you can fit more people or the background into your selfies.
The Samsung Galaxy A03s doesn’t overload you with camera features, which I think works best for those starting out with their first smartphone. You get Photo, Video, Portrait, Pro, Panorama, Food, Macro, and Hyperlapse modes. I spent most of my time with the main sensor, which can also record video up to 1080p at 30 frames per second. (The same for the selfie camera.)
LiTT Tip #3: The Samsung Galaxy A03s makes it easy to pull up the camera mode you use the most. All you need to do is head to Settings (the cogwheel on the top left) > Settings to keep. And then toggle on the Camera mode. You can even have the phone remember the last selfie angle you’ve used.
You expect longevity out of your smartphone’s battery
Armed with a large capacity 5,000mAh battery, the Samsung Galaxy A03s is built to last you for more than a day. If you consume content heavily, a full day is still possible. My typical use case would get me a day and a half usually.
I can’t talk about charging times because I didn’t have the charger with me. But what’s great about this phone is it comes with a USB-C charging port, which means the cables and chargers I had out already work with it. With the increased ubiquity of this charging standard, it’s easier to borrow charging cables from those around you.
What’s lit and what’s not?
What’s lit about it:
- An affordable price tag
- Classy black color in a matte finish
- Has all the most-used biometric security options
- Has a headphone jack, too
- Expandable storage up to 1TB
- More software customizability than I’ve expected
- Access to display features like Dark Mode and Eye Comfort Shield
- Simple camera modes and controls that’s perfect for beginners
- Gets USB-C charging
What needs the extra spark:
- Fingerprint recognition is finicky sometimes
- The device’s responsiveness is what you expect from a budget device
- Could do with fewer pre-installed apps
- Uses more internal storage than expected
- Doesn’t have access to Netflix
- So-so camera quality in low light
Samsung accomplishes what it sets out to do with the Galaxy A03s. It’s a budget-friendly handset built for first-time smartphone users. You don’t get the snappy performance or camera quality of the more expensive options, but that’s expected. Samsung throws in a few surprises that improve the basic smartphone package the Galaxy A03s offers, and for some, that’s more than enough.
The Samsung Galaxy A03s retails for PHP 6,490 (around USD 129 converted). Aside from black, you can get it in blue and white, too.
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