Samsung Galaxy A03 Core Review: How Good Are Cheap Phones In 2022?

Impact of chip shortage on entry-level phones

Samsung Galaxy A03 Core Review
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Have you wondered what happened to entry-level phones, like the ones that came around $100? Like how there have not been that many of them since 2020. Well, there is a reason for this, which I will be discussing in this review with regards to Galaxy A03 Core — the cheapest Samsung phone you can find in the market right now.

Samsung Galaxy A03 Core Specifications:

  • Body: 164.2 x 75.9 x 9.1mm, 211 gm
  • Display: 6.5-inch HD+ LCD with Infinity-V notch
  • Processor: Unisoc SC9863A (4x 1.6GHz + 4x 1.2GHz)
  • Software & UI: Android 11 (Go Edition)
  • Memory: 2GB RAM, 32GB storage (expandable up to 1TB)
  • Cameras: 8MP f/2.0 (rear), 5MP f/2.2 (front)
  • Battery: 5,000mAh, Micro USB charging (7.75W)
  • Color Options: Blue, Black
  • Price in Nepal: Rs. 11,999 (Check Latest Price here)

Samsung Galaxy A03 Core Review:

Samsung Galaxy A03 Core is the cheapest smartphone that we have laid our hands on in quite a long time. And it’s not that we are hesitant to test or use budget phones. Instead, it’s just that there aren’t many brands actively catering to this category lately.

As you might know, the entire electronics industry has been suffering from the global chip shortage for some time now. So, since there aren’t that many chips to work with, smartphones brands are naturally prioritizing phones with a higher profit margin, thereby completely neglecting the sub $100 segment.

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Instead of releasing new phones, these companies are salvaging whatever they have in stock and rebranding them under different packages as “fresh” launches.

Take the two-year-old Redmi 9A. It was recently succeeded by Redmi 9A Sport, but the two are basically the same device. And it’s not just Redmi, other brands like Poco and Samsung have also been found to be doing the same:

SN Redmi Poco Samsung
1. Redmi 9 Redmi 9 Activ Poco C3 Poco C31 Galaxy M21 Galaxy M21 2021
2. Redmi 9i Redmi 9i Sports Poco M2 Poco M2 Reloaded Galaxy A12 Galaxy A12 Exynos

So how do you make cheap phones from scratch in 2022? As it stands, you will have to make some significant compromises.

Raw Performance

Galaxy A03 Core does this in the chipset department. Here, Samsung has used the Unisoc SC9863A, which is a 3-years old chip built on a 28nm process. As a result, we were quite skeptical of its performance standard.

Samsung Galaxy A03 Core vs Redmi 9A

Geekbench 5 Test Result:

Galaxy A03 Core (2/32GB) Redmi 9A (2/32GB)
122 Single Core 138
479 Multi-Core 468

Software Optimization

That being said, we also know that a phone’s performance can’t solely be determined by benchmark results or raw CPU power. The software running on top of it has a big role to play as well. Thankfully, Samsung has improved a lot in this department. Galaxy A03 Core ships with Android 11 Go Edition with One UI core on top—instead of the standard Android 11-based One UI which is way too taxing for a starter phone like this.

As a result, it feels smoother in day-to-day usage when compared to Redmi 9A with full-fledged MIUI 12. Apps open a little quicker, and the RAM management is not as aggressive as that of MIUI either.

Samsung Galaxy A03 Core Android Go

Samsung One UI Core

This brings me to custom Android skins. It has been one of the key tools for smartphone brands to differentiate their product from the competition. While high-end phones can reap the benefits of all the features shipped with the custom UI rather seamlessly, they can degrade the performance of budget phones by taking up valuable resources.

In this regard, Samsung’s One UI is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it offers useful features such as Storage Saver that helps save space by zipping unused apps and files, whereas it also clutters the phone by offering two uninstallable browsers (Chrome, Samsung Internet Lite) and messaging apps (Google Message, Samsung Message).

Real-life Performance

All this combined, I don’t have many complaints regarding the performance of the Galaxy A03 Core. I mostly used this phone for lightweight tasks including web browsing, streaming YouTube, and attending online classes. Plus, I also enjoyed games like Clash of Clans, Dr. Wolf, and Slither.io.

You can technically install and play games like FreeFire on this phone too, but I won’t recommend doing so since such apps tend to grow exponentially over time—leaving you with degraded performance standards and lesser storage space. In addition, I kept using Storage Saver accordingly as storage optimization becomes a lot crucial in these budget phones.

Display

Samsung Galaxy A03 Core Display

Let’s now focus on the entertainment aspect of the A03 Core. On the front, it sports a 6.5″ LCD panel with HD+ resolution. Although the contrast is slightly on the higher side, its overall brightness and viewing angles are actually pretty good for the price. The colors look a little cooler as well, but I didn’t notice any unnatural hue here.

YouTube videos appear a little soft even when forcing them to 1080p resolution, but that is to be expected with an HD screen. Likewise, you will have no problem viewing PDFs or other documents on this screen in case you intend to buy this phone for attending online classes.

Camera

On a related note, allow me to talk about the camera and audio capabilities of Galaxy A03 now, which are quite essential when it comes to video calls. At this price point, you will hardly get social media-ready pictures from any phone—and the Galaxy A03 Core is no exception.

Photos lack detail even when taken in plenty of sunlight. And as you can see in these images, the phone struggles with maintaining exposure too. Pictures taken at night are full of noise, which is true for both front and back cameras.

Also, the default camera app doesn’t offer much in terms of features. You don’t even get dedicated portrait and night mode. In this regard, Samsung should have opted for Camera Go, which offers both and plenty of other features.

Battery and Rest of the Specs

Despite all this, it should get you through online classes if you are on a tight budget. That being said, I wished its single speaker had a wider sound stage. As things stand, the audio quality here sounds congested, which can be a problem when multiple people are talking on a voice call.

Finally, let’s talk about the battery endurance on this thing. Since you won’t be gaming as much or doing other intensive tasks on this phone, a full charge will last you over a day. In other words, A03 Core’s 5000mAh battery simply doesn’t disappoint. However, I wish I could say the same about the charging speed since Samsung ships a measly 7.75W charger inside the box that takes over 3 hours to take the phone from 0 to 100%.

Conclusion

To conclude, the Galaxy A03 Core doesn’t have the fastest of specs on paper, but Samsung has optimized the software well to run on low specs. I see it as a viable option for people looking for a basic starter phone—or something to get them through online classes on a really tight budget. Everything from its design, display, to the battery are worth the price. That being said, I would have liked it more if Samsung had added Camera Go and given at least 10W charging support.

Samsung Galaxy A03 Core Review: Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Sturdy textured design
  • Great Display for the price
  • Android Go feels smooth
  • Day’s worth of battery backup

Cons:

  • Outdated processor (28nm)
  • Cameras could have been better
  • Limited Storage
  • Slow 7.7W Charging
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design
7
Display
6.5
Back Camera
6
Rear Camera
6
Software & UI
7.5
Battery
8.5
Value for Money
8.5
Galaxy A03 Core is a decent entry in the budget segment which is slowly dying to the global chipset crisis. Though it doesn't have the latest processor, Samsung has done its homework optimizing the software experience for low specs. The display and battery endurance are equally good for its price range.samsung-galaxy-a03-core-review