Samsung Galaxy Ace rises above its class
The Samsung Galaxy Ace is a mid-range touchscreen Android phone released by Samsung sitting comfortably between the Galaxy S and the low-end cornucopia of Galaxy Fit, Mini and the Galaxy 5. It has some pretty decent specs that would put it into the high-end spectrum if it was launched a year ago so those who are looking for a bargain Android phone might want to consider this one.
Let’s get on with the review shall we?
Looking at the Samsung Galaxy Ace from afar would make you think of Apple’s iPhone a few years back. It has the rounded edge, the chrome sidings, the slit of a speaker above the display and the sole physical button in front. No wonder Apple is suing Samsung from copying its design. Anyway, copied or not, the design works for the Galaxy Ace setting it apart from the designs of low-end Samsung Android phones.
The Galaxy Ace sports a 3.5″ Gorilla Glass display, similar size to that of the iPhone 3GS. Below the display is a sole physical button for Home and beside it are two dedicated touch panels for Menu and Back that illuminates when the phone is activated.
On the left side you would only see the volume rocker. Top side is the earphone jack and the microUSB port with a sliding lid to for protection. Right side is the Power/Lock button where your thumb falls naturally when holding the phone and there’s also the microSD slot (2GB microSD included in the box). No dedicated camera button on this phone.
At the back is a rubbery, textured panel housing the 5-megapixel camera lens and flash. I love how the back panel improves the grip and handling of this phone. There’s also a white version of the same rubbery panel included in the package by the way.
The phone lacks heft and should appeal to the ladies or those who doesn’t want a heavy phone. It doesn’t feel plasticky unlike the bigger Galaxy S thanks to its rubbery back panel.
Display and UI
As mentioned, the Samsung Galaxy Ace has a respectable 3.5″ screen with an ordinary 320 x 480 screen resolution and 16 million colors. Looks good on its own but not as sharp as say for example, an HTC Desire S which has a slightly bigger 3.7″ screen but with a 480 x 800 resolution.
It uses Samsung’s TouchWiz 3.0 UI which looks similar to the iOS with its 4 persistent icons at the bottom for Calls, Contacts, Messages and Apps. Samsung still doesn’t have useful widgets but as an Android user, you shouldn’t have a hard time looking for apps with their own widget from the Market.
The Galaxy Ace is powered by an 800 MHz Qualcomm MSM7227 processor with Adreno 200 GPU. For a comparison, it’s slightly less powerful than the HTC Desire Z’s, 800 MHz Qualcomm MSM7230 processor with Adreno 205 GPU. It still runs on Android 2.2 Froyo but is upgradeable to 2.3 Gingerbread which is currently in the works.
Here’s the benchmark result from Quadrant which ranks it above the 1GHz HTC Desire overall.
Despite having Android 2.2 which supports Flash, the Galaxy Ace does not have it for web browsing. No Flash content nor Flash games for this phone. You can download Skyfire browser but it’s not an elegant solution.
It also does not have support for DivX/XviD videos natively. You can view HD videos however as long as it’s in MP4 format. I tried downloading a DivX player (QQPlayer) to play an AVI file but audio-video sync problems occur overtime. You’re better off sticking with MP4.
This one’s a bit surprising since despite the 800MHz processor, I would still experience game stuttering. I played two games, Ninja Slice (Fruit Ninja rip-off) and Angry Birds Rio, pretty staple games for an Android phone. With the Galaxy Ace though, gameplay wasn’t as smooth as I hoped it would be. Although they are playable, you would feel the sluggishness from time to time.
The Galaxy Ace has a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash and various scene modes that you probably won’t use (just set it to Auto). There’s nothing special with the camera in terms of pre and post-processing effects available but you can download camera apps from the Market for free.
Photos taken with the Galaxy Ace are quite good and looks sharp as long as you don’t blow it up. Here are some sample photos:
Video recording is disappointing at only QVGA @ 15fps so you might want to look somewhere else if you need to use your phone to capture videos.
Just like other Samsung phones out there, the Galaxy Ace comes with some nice features. There’s the personal hotspot where you can share your mobile internet connection to other devices via WiFi. It also has a built-in file browser which you may not find in other phones (although there are apps available in the Market). Its music player app automatically scans and displays the MP3 files on the SD card including their tags, album art and even playlists. Swype text input, which is becoming a staple on Samsung phones, is also included here.
I would like to point out though that you cannot simply connect this to any PC and expect to use it as a mass storage device unlike other phones including the Galaxy S which connects automatically. You need to install the included Samsung Kies application (think iTunes for Samsung) which installs the Samsung USB driver to your PC. An inconvenience if you need to plug your phone to different machines. UPDATE: Here’s the solution for this problem.
Battery life is average to good with the 1350mAh Li-Ion pack on the Galaxy Ace. You can get a whole day and more with wifi on and occasional SNS. Expect it to last shorter if you have mobile data turned on most of the time.
It’s easy to love the Samsung Galaxy Ace. The midrange price point and close to high-end specs (it looks like it has the best specs in its price range) makes it a top choice if you’re in the market for a phone that won’t break your wallet but won’t leave you with an un-upgradeable device as well.
It does come with a few shortcomings that might be important for you. No Flash on browsers, no support for DivX and less than stellar performance when it comes to gaming. If you can live without those on your Android phone then you the Samsung Galaxy Ace might be just the right phone for you.
|Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 Specs:|
|800 MHz ARM 11 processor, Adreno 200 GPU, Qualcomm MSM7227 chipset|
|Android OS, v2.2 (Froyo), upgradable to v2.3|
|3.5 inches Gorilla Glass display (320 x 480 pixels)|
|TouchWiz v3.0 UI|
|158 MB internal storage, microSD, up to 32GB, 2GB included|
|HSDPA, 7.2 Mbps|
|Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot|
|Bluetooth v2.1 with A2DP|
|5 MP, 2592×1944 pixels, autofocus, LED flash|
|QVGA Video recording @ 15fps|
|GPS with A-GPS support|
|Standard battery, Li-Ion 1350 mAh|