Samsung Galaxy J3 (2018) review: Underwhelming -- even for a budget phone

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The Good The Samsung Galaxy J3 for 2018 is cheap and has a removable battery.

The Bad The phone has the same key hardware as last year, and has a mediocre camera and processing speeds.

The Bottom Line The Galaxy J3 is underwhelming even for a budget phone. Save money and get a better phone by way of the Moto G6 Play.

6.4 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 5
  • Camera 6
  • Battery 8

High-end phones may be Samsung's specialty, but when it comes to making great entry-level and midrange devices, the company still has work to do. Case in point is the Galaxy J3. Also known in the US as the J3 Star (at US carrier T-Mobile), Express Prime 3 (AT&T, prepaid), J3 Achieve (Sprint) and Amp Prime 3 (Cricket Wireless) and available for about $130 to $210 depending on the carrier, the Galaxy J3 doesn't add much from last year's predecessor. (In the UK and Australia, that price converts to about £98 to £159 and AU$175 to AU$282, respectively.)

Besides a bump in megapixels for its cameras, an (expected) Android OS update, only a 0.5GB increase in RAM and more expandable memory, everything else remains the same. That includes the same screen size and resolution, internal storage, processor and battery as last year.

Editors' note: This review was originally published on July 11, 2018 and has been updated with a revised score to reflect final battery test results.

Samsung Galaxy J3 phone

The Galaxy J3's 8-megapixel rear-facing camera.

James Martin/CNET

It's a wonder then, why you'd want to pay for such a phone when Motorola's Moto G6 Play is available for $199, £169 and AU$329. The G6 Play gives you a faster experience overall, a superior camera and a longer-lasting battery -- 15 hours and 16 minutes versus an average of 13 hours and 37 minutes on this year's Galaxy J3.

And as a proverbial cherry on top, the G6 Play is also splashproof, so you don't have to fret if you get a few droplets of water on it. The J3 claims, however, no water-resistance at all.

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