The Samsung Galaxy S soared to success thanks to a plethora of out-of-this-world features, but as with all top-end smartphones, they don’t always come with a price tag that suits everyone.
However, help is at hand for those who want to venture into the Samsung Galaxy without having to pay for the privilege, as the Samsung Galaxy Ace has arrived. It still promises the Galaxy experience we know and love but as it is aimed at the mid-range market, a few specs have been sacrificed to keep the price down. Will the Galaxy Ace reach such great heights as the rest of the Galaxy or will it be sent crashing back down to Earth?
The Samsung Galaxy Ace is almost completely identical in looks to the Samsung Galaxy S, only it’s a couple of inches smaller. The handset is a little more pocket-friendly at 112.4mm, although it is thicker than its bigger brothers at 11.5mm. On a positive note though, it’s rather light at 113 grams.
The back panel takes on a similar textured style to the Samsung Galaxy S II, but is made out of rubber rather than plastic. It feels really solid though and still looks smart with chrome edges rounding off the black casing. The usual central home button and two touch-sensitive navigation keys show up on the front panel, with the 3.5 inch capacitive touchscreen taking front and centre. If you were expecting the same AMOLED treats that the Galaxy S and S II have to offer though, prepare to be disappointed.
The Galaxy Ace’s LCD display is the first indication that we’re not dealing with the same high-end devices its siblings are. The 320 x 480-pixel resolution display was a letdown and images were nowhere near as crisp as they are on AMOLED displays. However, the absence of a top-spec screen keeps the cost down, so it’s worth bearing in mind the old adage of ‘you get what you pay for’. The screen was still perfectly fine for everyday use and will be more than acceptable for those who aren’t too bothered about glorious images and video reproduction. Web browsing proved to be a bit of a task though as it was impossible to read small sections of text without zooming in first.
Power and Operating System
The Samsung Galaxy Ace runs on Android 2.2 Froyo. It’s not the best Google offering out there but still comes with most of the top Android features. Providing you’re not fussed about NFC or SIP calling, Froyo does the job just fine. Samsung has also thrown in its own TouchWiz user interface, which brings some of the manufacturer’s own widgets and features to the party.
Samsung’s Social Hub comes as part of the package for the social networkers amongst you, although it isn’t as intuitive as we’d have liked, as you can’t access your latest Facebook or Twitter updates from the homescreen and instead can only read messages once the application opens up in the web browser, something that doesn’t actually make life any easier. The same could be said for Samsung Apps – there isn’t really much on there apart from the odd news or weather app that you can’t get on the Android Market, and so its inclusion is a bit superfluous.
There are some handy features on the Galaxy Ace though, including Samsung’s AllShare app that streams the media on your phone to a DLNA-enabled TV, the TaskManager that shows all the apps you currently have running, and a shortcut bar in the Notifications menu where you can quickly turn your Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on and off.
The Galaxy Ace is powered by an 800MHz processor so it’s not as nippy as the Samsung Galaxy S but overall, the processor did a pretty good job. We experienced to odd jerk here and there when flicking through the seven homescreens, and web pages didn’t render straight away like on more expensive handsets, however, this wasn’t something that really tested our patience. The Ace handled YouTube videos particularly well with no stumbles or lag when we changed the viewing angle and the accelerometer was also quite responsive.
Internet: The Galaxy Ace gets the full Android WebKit browser treatment so you’ll be able to see websites as you do on your computer at home. Unfortunately, it isn’t powerful enough to support Flash – another thing that lets the Ace down when compared to the big boys. Despite this, you can still get your online video fix via the pre-installed YouTube client. As we said before, you’ll have to zoom in to view any small bits of text on web pages but this isn’t really that out of the ordinary for handsets with a 3.5 inch display.
The Samsung Galaxy Ace has 3G and Wi-Fi support and you can also share your phone’s 3G connection with other devices as it can be used as a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Camera: The Ace has a 5 megapixel camera with an LED flash that can also record video (although not in HD). Samsung has also attempted to make the camera more exciting by including different shoot modes and options to enhance your photographs such as smile detection, white balance and exposure settings. Of course, a 5 megapixel camera isn’t going to give you top quality photos, but the ones it is capable of producing are more than acceptable for Facebook! It’s worth noting that you can’t start using the camera until you’ve inserted a microSD card into the phone, although Samsung does include a 2GB one in the box to remedy this.
Other tech specs:
- Music player – supports MP3, WAV and eAAC+ files
- Video player – supports MP4, H.263 and H.264
- 158MB internal storage
- MicroUSB port
- 3.5mm headphone jack
- 6 hours 30 minutes talk time
Although we expected some spec downgrades due to the Galaxy Ace’s positioning as a mid-range device, we have liked to have seen a higher screen resolution, especially since the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II are well known for their excellent displays. It also would’ve been nice for Samsung to have included Flash support on the web browser, but if the 800MHz processor keeps the price down, it’s a sacrifice we’re willing to accept. Increasing the internal memory wouldn’t have been a bad shout either.
Just like its bigger siblings, the Samsung Galaxy Ace has a more good about it than bad. Of course, if you want cheap and cheerful smartphones these days, you have to take the hit somewhere. Providing that you’re not all that fussed about having an eye-catching display and super fast speeds, the Galaxy Ace is a perfectly capable all-rounder.