Samsung Star 3 Review

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Introduction and Design
Introduction:

The Samsung Star 3 is representing a breed that will become increasingly rare in the future – featurephones – as those are being gradually pushed away by the smartphone crowd, even in the entry level segment.

The Star 3 comes a year after its predecessor the Star II landed, but in certain specs it's even more barebone than last year, like the screen. Let's explore if a phone like the Star 3 is a successful mix of decent performance for a rock bottom price, which is kind of its point...

Design:

Shiny black plastic chassis with tapered back and faux chrome rim surrounding the sides – yes, it's an entry level Samsung phone, Dad! If you don't like black plastic, there is also a shiny white version. The Star 3 is pretty compact and easy to operate with one hand, thanks to the 4.02 x 2.28 x 0.45 (102 x 58 x 11.5 mm) dimensions, and is also very light at just 3.35oz (95g).



You can compare the Samsung Star 3 with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The power/lock button on the left and the volume rocker on the right are well-defined and easy to feel and press. There is the rectangular physical home key, which we are used to in many Samsung handsets by now, flanked by two call and end buttons – all three spaced out enough and responsive.




Display:

The smallish 3” screen is fairly bright for outside usage, and color representation is good enough, but the viewing angles are rather weak. It sports the paltry 240x320 pixels of resolution. Pixel density is even lower than on the Star II, but nobody will be using the Star 3 for HD movie watching or long hours of reading anyway.





Interface and Functionality:

We have the TouchWiz UI of Samsung on the Star 3 featuring the dock with shortcut icons at the bottom to launch your phonebook, dialer and message services. The pull-down notification bar contains connectivity switches to toggle on and off Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the sound profile.

There are even a couple of widgets you can place on your phone's home screens, like digital clock, weather, My Buddies, and also Facebook and Twitter widgets for quick access. You can also place shortcuts to nine most used applications on one of the home screens, saving you a tap to go into the paginated main menu. Navigating around and scrolling lists often lag quite a bit overall.


Typing on the 3” display is not easy, but the keys are fairly big, blocking most of the other view, so it is bearable for the occasional text message or short email.


From the preinstalled apps we have the usual helpful bunch - a document viewer, organizer, calculator and voice recorder - all of which can come in handy, considering you don't have any application store to turn to for options.

Browser and Connectivity:

Complex pages are a doozy for the NetFront browser on the Star 3, and take a while to load, returning a “page size too large” error, or crash it altogether. For basic browsing it does the job, especially if the website has a stripped-down mobile version, but dragging the page around for navigation is a pain for those used to pinch, double-tap and scroll swiftly on a modern mobile browser.

There is a full screen browser mode, which allows much more from the page to be seen and interacted with.

The Samsung Star 3 comes with 2G radio only, meaning you will be reveling at slow EDGE download speeds, and it skimps on the GPS chip. Wi-Fi connectivity and Bluetooth 3.0 are onboard, though, as well as FM Radio with RDS.

Camera:

The 3MP shooter on the back of the Samsung Star 3 unsurprisingly lacks a flash, and the interface is very basic, with only a few white balance settings and basic effects like Sepia. But hey, there is a night mode for low light photography.


The pictures outdoor turned out decent for the category of the phone, with pretty accurate colors and enough detail, but a bit murky and on the soft side. Indoor shots are passable under strong lighting, with noise levels growing exponentially when the lights get dimmed down.



Video can be captured only in QCIF definition with 15 fps, which renders it almost useless.

Samsung Star 3 Sample Video:



Multimedia:

The music player supports categorization by artists, albums and playlists, but the tiny display and low resolution soften your desire to load the phone with playlists and scroll merrily through hundreds of songs. The loudspeaker sounds tinny and a bit crackling, but the volume strength is quite good.


The Star 3 can be loaded with MPEG-4 videos, and it plays them fine up to the screen's resolution, so it could kill time for you while waiting somewhere, but that's about it. You have to manually turn the video in landscape mode with a button as there is no accelerator sensor.



Performance:

Voice quality in the ear piece of the Samsung Star 3 is quite good, with loud enough volume, and no audible distortions. The other side said they could hear us very well in terms of volume, and our voices sounded natural, so actual telephony is what the Star 3 does best. Thus you won't miss the ringing as the speaker is quite loud, but if you leave the phone on silent, vibration is pretty wimpy.

Samsung hasn't outed yet talk time estimates for the Star 3 at the time of writing this, but the 1000mAh on such a modestly spec'd device usually means decent talk times and very good standby results.

Conclusion:

The Samsung Star 3 is aiming for the sub-$100 mark without any subsidies, so there isn't much else we can desire from its hardware except what is already in there. We wish it had at least the same screen as the Star 2, but the slightly lower pixel density is a minor quibble on such a phone. The incapable browser is is a bigger gripe, though.

More importantly, the phone sports an above average call quality, and that's all that could be asked from its price point. It is also easy to handle and unassuming, so it can make a good backup handset to give your kid.

The Star 3's primary competition, besides last year's feature phones from LG, like the Cookie Fresh, or Samsung itself, like Corby 2, could be Nokia's Asha family. The Nokia Asha 201, for example, comes with sub-$100 price unlocked as well, and might lure people demanding a QWERTY keyboard away from the Star 3.

In this day and age, though, you'd better splurge a few tens more, and get a budget smartphone, like the Samsung Galaxy Y, for obvious appolicious reasons.

Video Thumbnail




Pros

  • Cheap and compact
  • Good call quality
  • Wi-Fi connectivity

Cons

  • Laggy interface
  • Browser struggles to render heavier pages
  • Low pixel density
  • No ambient light and accelerator sensors

PhoneArena Rating:

7.0

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