Samsung does not only dominate high-end categories. It has shouldered mid-range competition from a host of top manufacturers with its A, J, E and C-Series of smartphones. The broad group of devices in A-Series presents the mid-range to upper mid-range section. If you buy a J, E, or C-Series device, you will probably have an entry level to mid or upper-range mobile. And by the way, a few of them come nearly ‘this’ close to high-enders. Today we will feature them in our Best Samsung budget devices list. However, some of the new upper mid rangers in the Galaxy A Series can challenge best top sellers.

From Galaxy S3 to S5, Samsung also had mid-ranger offerings in compact devices dubbed ‘Mini,’ including S3 Mini, S4 Mini and S5 Mini. These were small, downgraded versions of S-Series flagships that were significantly popular during their time. Taking like it’s such a long long time ago, aren’t we? Actually that’s just from 2012 to 2014, and these Minis are still popular to many market regions by user percentages. Still they feature in our Best Samsung budget devices list.

Now how are we going to do this? It’s not like making a straight forward dive into the high-end category list. We are talking about compiling a Best Samsung budget devices list from the largest chunk of devices belonging in the A, J, E or C-Series (even the Minis?)

We will be spoilt for choice, because significant differences between devices are quite few. Our best bet, however, is that new releases will be more dominant. This bet may be subjective, but never mind – spec sheets will always lead the way home. So without further ado, let’s find out right away!

Samsung Galaxy J7 (2016)

1

We gave the top spot to this favorite because of its overall capability, and of course, its coveted popularity in emerging and existing markets such Asia. Target markets in Asian including India are awash with the affordable J-series devices, especially for last year’s predecessor, the Galaxy J7. The same story is happening now with the J7 (2016), especially with penetration into Europe and other markets as well.

We call it the high-end flagship of this affordable J Series line-up of devices. The Galaxy J7 (2016) has a clean side metal finish for a beautiful design, a large 5.5” display of Samsung’s custom Super AMOLED technology. A beefy 3300 mAh user-removable battery lights up this display. Its Blacks are deep, there is great color contrast, decent brightness and good viewing angles. As usual, a standard but capable 13 MP rear camera sits at the back.

Overall, it is a marginal upgrade from the 2015 variant in terms of chipset improvement and introduction of a metal frame. The processor upgrade is Qualcomm’s MSM8952 Snapdragon 617 shipset out of the box. It is also now shorter, slimmer – and even lighter (by 1 gram) despite packing a larger battery than the J7. Here are all the details why this beauty is in our Best Samsung budget devices list:

Pros:

  • For this category, you get a sleek design with rounded edges, a metal frame and brush-metal back
  • It runs on Google’s Android 6.0.1, Marshmallow out of the box, which is really welcome
  • Qualcomm’s MSM8952 Snapdragon 617 chipset help power the device. You can also choose the Exynos 7870 model. Both processors are Cortex-A53 octa cores running at 1.6GHz, more than adequate for a standard performance experience
  • 2 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM, microSD card expansion up to 256 GB
  • A crisp 5.5″ HD Super AMOLED screen of 720p with 268 ppi pixel density. With a bright display, great peak brightness, sunlight legibility, for a satisfactory viewing experience
  • A 13MP rear camera with an f/1.9 lens, LED flash, 1080p@30fps video recording. Lens can capture a good photo in low light. At the front, a 5MP front camera with LED flash, f/1.9 lens, 1080p@30fps video recording.
  • LTE capable with Cat.4 network connectivity, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.1, NFC, GPS and GLONASS. Ultra Data Saving Mode
  • A user-removable 3300 mAh battery.
  • Dual SIM and Dual standby

Cons:

  • Not very different from the older sibling, the Galaxy J7
  • Front LED is more of a flashlight than a camera flash
  • Slightly poor screen sharpness and contrast. Too bad a 1080p display unit is available only for China
  • No ambient light sensor
  • No fingerprint sensor
  • A little slippery

Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016)

2

Last year did not see the opening iteration of the J3 in the slowly renovating, popular and affordable J Series. So enter the Samsung Galaxy J3 (2016) with added ‘figures’ and no a predecessor! Our second best phone in this category. By outright, this plastic rocking mid-ranger feels a little compact and sturdy.

Its flat sides are quite cool, helping grip and making the phone good to look at from its side. The case is solid and robust, gives an average build quality. In fact, this case does not easily bend, but why would you want to do that? Equally, the home key feels sturdy and solid when depressed

The edges are rounded, sides are somewhat flat and thanks to the trickery in paint finishing, the all polycarbonate casing assumes a rather metallic look. There is a two-tone color variant printing the front panel black at the top bezel and white at the bottom. Cool? I don’t think so but hey, the J3 comes armed with a decent Super AMOLED HD display (a rarity in this price range) of 720p resolution and 294ppi.

We love the big 2600 mAh user-accessible battery and there is also a modest 8 MP rear camera. Apart from its overall specs, the price of the J3 (2016) of around $160 has attracted many of Samsung’s loyal customers. Find the rest of its pros and cons below.

Pros

  • Good polycarbonate matte body design for its price.
  • A 5.0” Super AMOLED touchscreen of 720p resolution and 294ppi, more like a constant resolution for the J Series. So you are sure of a bright full display with impressive peak brightness, offering great sunlight legibility
  • Asahi Dragontrail Glass, an alkali-aluminosilicate sheet glass engineered for thinness, lightness and damage-resistance offers protection to the front panel
  • 8 MP main camera with aperture f/2.2 lens, LED flash, 1080p@30fps video recording (only 720p on some models) and a 5 MP (2 MP on some models) front camera
  • Exynos 3475 (4G LTE) or Snapdragon 410 (4G LTE) or Spreadtrum SC9830 (4G LTE) or Spreadtrum SC8830 (3G) processor chipset, depending on region
  • 5 GB RAM, 8/16 GB ROM
  • MicroSD slot of up to 128 GB
  • LTE capable with Cat.4 network connectivity, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.1, GPS and GLONASS. Ultra Data Saving Mode
  • A 2600 mAh Li-Ion user replaceable battery, Ultra Power Saving Mode
  • Dual Sim and Dual standby
  • Of course its price is one main booster for popularity. You can buy it at about $150

Cons:

  • No NFC support
  • No ambient light sensor or compass
  • Lollipop is a little outdated for a 2016 device, some competition rock Marshmallow out of the box
  • Sub-par performance. If you keep within 720p resolution, you won’t complain that much
  • Some people may not fancy the two-tone color variant

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2016)

3

This device lies in the upper mid-range category, typical of all Alpha (A) Series of devices. It is a device that could pose a few challenges the Galaxy S6, specifically in terms of its sleek poses, and a plus for possession of an FM Radio and microSD card. The latter two were missing from the Galaxy S6, not to mention the bigger battery found in the Galaxy A5 (2016). Needless to say, we can almost pitch it in the Best top sellers list. For its high price in this category, let’s just keep it here.

Being Samsung’s premium upper mid-ranger, the Galaxy A5 (2016) comes as an exquisite combination of metal and glass. This is crafted with a beautiful slim waistlines and narrow bezels. Gorilla Glass 4 panels line both the front and back of the device. A FHD display, superb 13 MP camera and enhanced security with fingerprint sensor addition make this device shine at the top.

Hardware performance is exceptional and an octa-core processor boost ultra-fast internet speed through LTE Cat.6 network access. So expect seamless web-page loading, smoother UI transitions and faster multi-tasking. Despite its slot in the Best Samsung budget devices list, here are the details why this device is worth every coin.

Pros:

  • Premium build design comprises of a metal frame surrounded by a beautifully crafted glass/metal body
  • A 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 layer covers both the front panel and the metal back producing a smooth (slippery) feel in the hand. The edges are angled a bit sharply and there are four bumps at the four corners that reduce this slippery effect. Bezels are also greatly reduced
  • A superb 5.2″ Super AMOLED FHD screen of 1080p resolution with 424 ppi pixel density. With a bright display, great peak brightness, accurate color rendering, perfect sunlight legibility, for a great viewing experience
  • A 13 MP rear camera with an f/1.9 lens, LED flash, OIS, 1080p@30fps video recording. Wide aperture lens, 28mm field-of-view gives extra height to images. Not forgetting the ability to capture great photos in low light. At the front of course is a 5MP with 1080p@30fps video recording
  • The processor on board is either Qualcomm MSM8952 Snapdragon 615 chipset with Adreno 405 GPU or Exynos 7580 with Mali T720MP GPU to power the device
  • 2 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM, with hybrid (uses SIM2 slot) or dedicated microSD card expansion up to 256 GB
  • LTE capable with Cat.6 network connectivity, Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.1, NFC
  • A non-removable 2900 mAh battery, fast battery charging
  • Single/Dual SIM and Dual standby
  • Fingerprint sensor, Samsung Pay
  • Price range: around $340

Cons:

  • LTE Cat 6 support is subject to regional and carrier availability
  • No 4K video recording
  • No Heart rate/SpO2 sensor
  • Comes with only Android OS v5.0.1 out of the box
  • Overpriced, there are lots of faster, cheap rivals

Samsung Galaxy A3 (2016)

4

Samsung paid special attention to the A Series by the custom glass dual-panels/metal frame body designs, superb displays, good hardware/software and importantly the small to large screen size variability. The sporty Galaxy A3 (2016) is a major upgrade from its predecessor, the Galaxy A3. The screen size and resolution grew from 4.5” to 4.7,” with beefed up resolution from qHD to HD, camera was significantly improved to 13 MP from just 8 MP. Perhaps we can assume that the extra thickness added was because of the new large 2300 mAh battery. So for an extra cost of about $40 this upgrade is justified.

The signature build and design of this device is worth mentioning again. First, the device is similar to its bigger brother the Galaxy A5 (2016), both designs of course being borrowed from the Galaxy S6. Its front and back 2.5D curved Gorilla Glass 4 sandwiches the metal frame, making the device look elegant, robust and smooth (and slippery in the hand). Here is more to the device.

Pros:

  • Premium build design comprises of a metal frame surrounded by a glass/metal body
  • A 2.5D Gorilla Glass 4 layer for both the front panel and the metal back producing a smooth (slippery) feel in the hand. The edges are still angled just like its bigger brother the A5 (2016), sharply and there are four bumps at the four corners that reduce this slippery effect. Bezels are also greatly reduced, and we love the new position of the loudspeaker at the bottom side.
  • A superb 4.7″ Super AMOLED FHD screen of 720p resolution with 312 ppi pixel density. The display is bright, has great peak brightness, accurate color rendering, good sunlight legibility
  • A 13 MP rear camera with an f/1.9 lens, LED flash, 1080p@30fps video recording, OIS was left out this time. It has the ability to capture great photos in low light. At the front is a 5MP sensor
  • The processor is either Qualcomm MSM8916 Snapdragon 410 or Exynos 7578 with Quad-core 1.5 GHz Cortex-A53 clock speed
  • 5 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM, with hybrid (uses SIM2 slot) or dedicated microSD card expansion up to 128 GB
  • LTE capable with Cat.6 network connectivity, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.1, NFC
  • A non-removable 2300 mAh battery
  • Single/Dual SIM and Dual standby
  • Fingerprint sensor, Samsung Pay
  • Price range: about $250

Cons:

  • Overpriced, there are lots of faster, cheap rivals
  • No OIS
  • No fast battery charging
  • No Fingerprint sensor
  • Comes with only Android OS v5.0.1 out of the box

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016)

5

The strategic addition of figures to new releases of this year generally means that the device was upgraded. We can agree that all or most 2016 dubbed phones were an improvement of their older brothers, at least on paper. The Samsung Galaxy J5 (2016) is a sizable upgrade from last year’s J5. With a chamfered aluminum metal frame and polycarbonate casing, a larger 720p display screen and a huge 3100 mAh battery (up from a distant 2600 mAh). The battery stays user-replaceable, thanks to the removable back plastic cover.

Pros:

  • Chamfered edges, a metal frame and polycarbonate back panel in a great design (depending on how impressed you are)
  • Runs on Google’s Android 6.0.1, Marshmallow out of the box, which is really cool bringing in a smooth UI experience
  • A standard 5.2″ HD Super AMOLED screen of 720p with 282 ppi pixel density. The display is bright at peak brightness, has good sunlight legibility, colors are accurate for a satisfactory experience
  • Qualcomm’s MSM8916 Snapdragon 401 chipset help power the device. Processor is Quad-core with 1.2 GHz Cortex-A53
  • 2 GB RAM, 16 GB ROM, microSD card expansion up to 128 GB
  • A 13MP rear camera with an f/1.9 lens, LED flash, 1080p@30fps video recording. Lens can capture a good photo in low light. At the front, a 5MP front camera with LED flash, f/1.9 lens
  • LTE capable with Cat.4 network connectivity, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth v4.1, NFC, GPS and GLONASS. Ultra Data Saving Mode
  • A user-removable 3100 mAh battery.
  • Dual SIM and Dual standby
  • Price range: about $250

Cons:

  • Almost the same as its older sibling, the Galaxy J5 in terms of chipset (Snapdragon 401), network connectivity (LTE Cat.4) and camera (13 MP). Hence, poor performance
  • Screen packs a fewer pixels per inch (ppi) compared to sibling
  • No ambient light sensor
  • We loved the big battery but now have to live with the extra 13g weight
  • Slightly poor screen sharpness and contrast

We will leave you to do the final verdict on the device of your choice. Feel free to rate this Best Samsung budget devices list below. You can drop in your views, whether you agree or disagree with this list in the comments section.

This page constantly updated. Last update 17/Jan