Samsung Galaxy J5 vs Samsung Galaxy J3 - what's the difference?

Published: August 7th, 2016
Written by: Will Townsend

SAMSUNG J3 VS SAMSUNG J5

UPDATE 09/08/2016

We've noticed networks being very aggressive on pricing for these two models and you can now get:

With the world of technology changing at the drop of a hat it’s important for a company to release newer and updated models of their smart phones on a regular basis. We can’t go a year without some new iPhone or Samsung phone. This year has seen the Moto G4, the Apple iPhone 7, and now two new offerings from Samsung in the Galaxy J3 and the Galaxy J5. If you want to stick with a Samsung or are looking for a well specced, reasonably priced Android smartphone, but don’t know which one to go for then just take a look at our comparison to find out which one is the right one for you.

DESIGN

The J3 looks like a cheaper Samsung Galaxy S7. Instead of glass you have plastic. The battery cover looks and feels like the cover they used to use in all their phones but remember that this is a budget smartphone. If you’re only paying £150 for your phone you should expect to compromise on certain areas of design and build quality, it’s not all bad news though: the design is slim, light, and practical. It feels like it’s well-made and overall the design is attractive, we've just been spoilt with full aluminium and glass bodies in other smartphones, although admittedly not in this price range.

On the other hand, one of the best selling points for the Galaxy J5 is its great battery life, this does however mean that there would need to be compromises made elsewhere. For the J5 this means that there is a lower quality of build and performance so that the price could be kept low. The phone is made from plastic which means it isn’t very water resistant and the finish doesn’t look as good as some of its bigger brothers with metal frames in other Samsung phones. Those phones are much more expensive though, so it’s a case of getting what you pay for. Much like the J3 the J5 at least feels like it’s well-made and the slim design means that it’s pretty easy to keep a hold of within a single hand.

There is one area where the J3 has the J5 beat when it comes to design and that is the screen. The J5 uses an LCD screen and, while it still looks good, it can’t compare to the lovely OLED screen of the J3.

PERFORMANCE

The Samsung J3 is running Android 5.1.1 and the good old fashioned Samsung Android skin TouchWiz. Even so the phone looks and runs better than older Samsung phones because they’ve finally stopped adding all the features they possibly could leaving you with a clean phone. It delivers 1.5GB of RAM alongside a 1.2GHz processor which is pretty fast. There’s still faster phones out there but you can still play the latest games, even if you can’t play them at their highest settings. A slight niggle with the phone is the lack of storage in the basic model. You’re going to need a microSD card if you don’t want to be uninstalling and reinstalling apps as needed.

The Samsung J5 also delivers 1.5GB of RAM but it uses a slightly different processor. It’s still 1.2GHz but it’s the Qualcomm Snapdragon 410. It’s the same speed as the J3 but the J5 has slightly better performance and can compete with every other budget smartphone in the performance area. The Samsung J5 isn’t as good for games though, so if you’re a gamer you may want to invest in the J3 or a more premium smartphone. Anyone who has tried to play games on a PC is more than accepting of the fact you need to pay more for that kind of thing though. Overall the phones are about equal when it comes to performance. The J5 is a bit more responsive and the J3 is a bit better for games.

CAMERA

These days cameras are super important in smart phones. People are taking more selfies than ever or are just using their smartphones as digital cameras. We mentioned earlier that the J3 makes compromises to keep the prices low and one of those compromises was in the camera. The J3 features an 8-megapixel rear camera. This is pretty good in terms of cameras but other budget phones in this price range offer up to 13-megapixels. The camera can suffer from a little shutter lag when you try to take photos but it shouldn’t prove too annoying unless your in to sports photography. The camera on the J3 would have been great for a budget phone a few years ago but it can’t compare to the cameras on similar priced phones these days so this is a downside to the phone.

The camera on the J5 is much better. It’s one of those budget smartphones that does come with a 13-megapixel rear camera. This higher level of megapixels isn’t all good news though. The camera can be tricky to work properly depending on the light conditions. One downside of the J5 camera is that there isn’t an HDR mode to help correct the issues caused by a higher quality camera. So while the J5 does have the better camera that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will take the better picture in all situations, although overall it does win in comparison to the J3.

COST

In terms of price the Samsung Galaxy J3 is a little cheaper. You can walk into a phone shop and walk out with a J3 for £150 or a £9 a month contract at the minimum. The J5 is a little bit more, but only a tiny amount. It can be yours for £160 out of the box or a £10 a month contract. Different stores will have different contract options and you may need to shop around for a deal like that. Do a little legwork and you can save a little money though.

FINAL WORD

The phones are very similar and with very little setting them apart in the pricing arena, which phone you go for really depends on what you want to use the phone for. If you’re looking for a cheap phone for everyday use then go for the Galaxy J3. If you plan on using the camera a lot then go for the Galaxy J5. For the price, they’re both great budget smartphones.

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