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New Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 review: Cameras

Samsung Galaxy J3

The 5Mp selfie camera at the front of the Galaxy J3 is a fairly common feature in today’s Android phones, no matter their price. It has beauty- and sound & shot modes and allows you to add real-time grey-scale, sepia and negative effects. You can also use the screen as a makeshift flash to brighten low-light shots.

At the rear is an 8Mp camera with f/2.2 aperture. It’s nothing spectacular, and will not replace a proper digital camera, but it’s handy to have about you. You get the same real-time filters but a few more camera modes, including HDR, Continuous shot, Panorama and Pro. There’s also a physical LED flash on the rear, and the J3 can shoot 720p HD video.

Below you can see a couple of our test shots, here showing St Pancras Renaissance Hotel with Auto- and then HDR settings. It’s very difficult to tell the difference between the two on this moody London afternoon, although edges are softer on the HDR shot where the camera has moved in between taking each photo. The J3’s camera could certainly be a little faster to capture an image, but at £150 it’s difficult to complain. And although there are some soft edges and it’s difficult to make out finer details such as individual bricks, the colours aren’t bad and we’ve certainly seen worse. Also see: Best phone camera 2016

Samsung Galaxy J3

Samsung Galaxy J3

New Samsung Galaxy J3 2016 review: Software

The Samsung Galaxy J3 might be a 2016 model but it runs previous-generation Android Lollipop 5.1.1 out of the box, with no software update available. This isn’t so bad, since only 4.6 percent of all Android phones are running Marshmallow, but it is still mildly disappointing to find a new phone supplied with anything other than Marshmallow in April 2016.

As usual Samsung overlays its TouchWiz UI, but without all the bells and whistles you see in the high-end Galaxy smartphones. There’s no Multi Window or Pop Up View, for example, nor smart gestures that let you swipe the palm of your hand to take a screenshot or raise the phone to your ear to make a call. Keeping your eyes on the screen won’t stop the screen timing out while you’re watching a video, either.

In terms of extra software you do get Microsoft’s Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneDrive preinstalled, plus 100GB free OneDrive storage. Frustratingly, given the low amount of internal storage, these cannot be removed. Also see: Best Android phones 2016.

Samsung Galaxy J3

You’ll also see the Themes store and Easy mode found in Galaxy smartphones higher up the range, with the former offering some nice customisation options for your wallpaper, app icons and fonts, and the latter a simplified user interface that places the most commonly used settings, apps and contacts on the home screen.

As we mentioned earlier in this review, just 4.4GB is available to the user out of the box, so you will need to factor in the cost of a microSD card unless you have no intention of downloading apps or using the camera.

Read next: Samsung's Galaxy S7 is still the best phone you can buy, and here's why

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Samsung Galaxy J3: Specs

  • 5in HD (720x1280, 294ppi) SuperAMOLED display
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop with TouchWiz
  • 1.5GHz Spreadtrum SC7731 (Cortex A7) quad-core 32-bit processor
  • Mali-400 MP GPU
  • 1.5GB RAM
  • 8GB storage
  • up to 128GB via microSD
  • 4G LTE Cat 4, single Micro-SIM
  • 2.4GHz 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • NFC
  • OTG
  • 8Mp, f2.2 rear camera with autofocus and LED flash, 720p video at 30fps
  • 5Mp front camera
  • 2600mAh removable lithium-ion battery
  • Micro-USB 2.0
  • 142.3x71x7.9mm
  • 138g
  • Geekbench 3: 408 (single-core), 1303 (multi-core)
  • AnTuTu: 26,373
  • GFXBench 3 T-Rex: 7.5fps
  • JetStream 16.378