Panasonic is happy focusing on the budget market as far as its smartphone division is concerned. Recently, the company added two new offerings to its Eluga series, the Eluga A3 and the Eluga A3 Pro smartphones. Both feature very similar specifications, with the only real differences being the storage capacity and processor.
We have the Pro version with us today, which is priced at Rs. 12,790. The big highlight of the new A3 and A3 Pro is a 4000mAh battery. These phones are aimed at those who prioritise good battery life on their Android phones, but there’s also fierce competition at this price from the likes of Lenovo, Xiaomi and Samsung. Let’s see if the Eluga A3 Pro manages to be more than just a marathon runner.
We don’t have any complaints about build quality as the Eluga A3 Pro feels solid and well put-together. It isn’t too heavy at 161 grams and has a comfortable grip, thanks to the slightly wide side panels. There’s a metal plate at the back which adds some reinforcement, but the rest of the body is mostly made of plastic. The texture on the sides tries to mimic the look and feel of brushed metal, but it isn’t fooling anyone. There are chrome accents around the back, which honestly, look a bit tacky.
With the screen off, the Eluga A3 Pro gives the illusion of a bezel-less display. However, the 5.2-inch screen has black borders along its edges. The resolution is also disappointingly only HD, and while text and icons don’t have any distracting jaggedness, they aren't as sharp as they would be on a full-HD display. Colours are quite punchy and viewing angles are decent thanks to the IPS panel. The 2.5D curved glass is a nice touch and Panasonic has chosen Asahi Dragontrail to protect the display from scratches. However, the glass smudges easily so you’ll have to constantly keep cleaning it.
Below the screen is a fingerprint sensor that’s integrated into the physical home button. There aren’t any capacitive navigation keys, so you still need a strip of on-screen navigation keys, which seems like a waste of space. Unlocking the phone doesn’t require you to press the home button. A long-press of this button brings up Google Voice whereas long-pressing the on-screen home button launches Google Assistant.
There’s a Micro-USB port and mono speaker at the bottom, a 3.5mm headphone socket on the top, volume and power buttons on the right and a hybrid SIM tray on the left. The tray can accommodate a second Nano-SIM or a microSD card. The rear camera is slightly recessed into the body so there’s no bulge. In the box, you get a screen guard, SIM ejector tool, USB cable, 10W power adapter, headset, and instructions.
The Eluga A3 Pro is fitted with a rather dated MediaTek MT6753 octa-core SoC. It’s still a decent SoC for general use but not as efficient as some of the newer Snapdragon and MediaTek chips. Performance is quite mediocre as far as benchmarks go. In AnTuTu, we managed to get just 36,869 points while GFXbench returned 21fps. You also get 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage, the latter of which can be expanded by up to 128GB. Other specifications include GPS, FM radio, USB-OTG, Wi-Fi b/g/n and Bluetooth 4. The phone has an accelerometer plus proximity and ambient light sensors, but there’s no gyroscope.
The phone runs on a near-stock version of Android 7 Nougat but with a whole bunch of preinstalled apps. These include PhonePe, Xender, DataBack, V-PayQwik, K-Gallery, Amazon Shopping and Prime Video, DailyHunt, and a game called Cupcake Dreamland. Thankfully, you can uninstall pretty much all of them if not needed. The Eluga A3 Pro also ships with Panasonic’s Arbo virtual assistant. Once signed in with a Google account, the AI is supposed to learn from your behaviour and provide suggestions based your activity and location. However, even after using it for a couple of days, we did not get any suggestions. Perhaps using it for a longer duration might yield better results.
The Settings app also has two new additions for swapping the positions of the Back and Overview navigation buttons, and a feature called DuraSpeed which lets you choose which apps you want running in the background.
The Eluga A3 Pro does decent job in terms of general usage. It’s not the zippiest of phones, as heavy apps take some time to load and we did face some intermittent lag when multitasking. Gaming performance is about average too. We didn't notice any heating here other than the normal warmth when gaming or using the camera for extended periods. 4G is supported and VoLTE works too.
Full-HD videos play smoothly, however this phone struggles with anything higher than that. The loudspeaker isn’t great for watching a movie but it’s fairly powerful when it comes to ringtones and alerts. There’s the standard Android Gallery app as well as Google Photos and Play Music for audio files.
The main 13-megapixel camera supports PDAF so focusing is decently quick, once you tap to focus on your subject. In daylight, landscapes didn't have good enough detail. Due to the lack of Auto HDR, we often ended up with overexposed areas in our pictures. Details in distant objects were a bit fuzzy and colours weren't always accurate. Macros fare a bit better but overall the colour tone was a bit dull. In low light, the sensor has a tough time handling multiple light sources, so images ended up with bright flashes. Even in close-ups, details were murky although noise was handled well.
Video recording maxes out at 1080p and quality is once again decent. There’s built-in electronic stabilisation, which can be toggled on. It does a decent job of handling minor shakes but it’s not all that effective. The camera app is the same, run-of-the-mill one that we’ve seen on pretty much every MediaTek smartphone in the recent past. You get basic shooting modes such as panorama, and picture-in-picture which lets you use the front and rear cameras at the same time. The front 8-megapixel sensor is not that bad and in good light, you can capture some decent selfies.
Battery life is the real star here and possibly the main redeeming feature of this phone. The 4000mAh battery lasted 12 hours and 7 minutes in our continuous HD video playback test. With regular use, we managed more than a day's worth of battery life. There’s no fast charging support, and even with the 10W charger, it still takes a couple of hours for this phone to charge fully.
The Panasonic Eluga A3 Pro delivers on its promise of good battery life, but everything else feels pretty mediocre. From the aesthetics to the display to the camera – it simply doesn’t measure up to what the competition is offering. Phones like the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 (Review), Moto G5 (Review) and even the Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime (Review) offer much better value in this segment. They even offer comparable battery performance, so unless Panasonic corrects its price, we can’t think of any good reason to go for this phone.