24 April, 2012

Tech Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace

I'm writing this to demonstrate that I can write a good, coherent review of a gadget. --Mark

Samsung Galaxy Ace Review

Galaxy Ace - photo from androidcommunity.com

Full specifications from GSMArena

Opinion leaders in the media and on major technology blogs almost invariably focus on the latest high-end gadgets - the iPhone 4S, the Galaxy Nexus range of phones, Alienware laptops... but for a lot of us, the only way we'll get our hands on one of these prized products is by trying them out in a shop or by having a friend who has bought one. Consumers who, like me, enjoy technology but want to get a lot of value out of lower priced products don't get much of a look in.

So today I'm reviewing my phone, which came out last year but is still available on £10-20 per month contracts in the UK: the Samsung Galaxy Ace.

I got the Ace through T-Mobile reseller fonehouse for £15.50pm, 24 month contract, with 300 minutes and unlimited texts and internet usage. (This, by the way, is still a good deal in today's market). I wanted a budget Android that would have a decent enough screen and processor for checking Facebook, emails, some light web browsing, and listening to music. You can basically think of the SGA as a smaller, budget version of the Galaxy SII, since the design is very similar, but the storage, processor and size are more limited.

Screen and Build

The SGA has a 3.5" TFT screen with a 320x480 resolution. At this price screens are much of a muchness but you get more screen real estate than, say, the Galaxy Mini. In fact I have recently used it for watching Netflix and surprisingly forgot mid-episode that I was watching on a small phone. Don't expect to make masterpieces on Draw Something, though. Touch is usually responsive though accuracy can be an issue with the keyboard. 

Now, the Ace took a bit of flak in the media for looking quite a lot like an iPhone,and it's true that they've taken a lot of cues from Apple design-wise,but from a 2012 perspective so do a lot of Android handsets. It's got a central home button and two touch-sensitive areas (one for menus, one for back). The phone's a very comfortable fit in the hand and in jean pockets, thanks to its shape and smaller size.


5Mp camera; it's fairly run-of-the-mill. It has a flash, but the photos often come out a bit blurry. It's OK for random snaps but you wouldn't want to go without an actual camera for it.

Processor, Rom and Storage

The 800Mhz is fine for doing the basics but can get sluggish when multitasking and often takes quite a while to scan the SD card when you start the phone up. Because of the low processor speed Flash isn't supported in the stock browser but I believe you can get it on Dolphin.

The Ace runs Gingerbread 2.3.4 with Samsung's TouchWiz UI. At first I envied my wife's HTC for its Sense UI, but over time I've come to appreciate the uncluttered feel on this handset. If you're into custom firmware, a big disadvantage is that you can't use the Rom Manager app- it bricks the SGA. Custom ROMs do exist, but there doesn't seem to be a widely used fully functional one yet. This is unfortunate as Samsung have forced some apps that you can't remove onto it such as Shazam and 'Samsung Apps'. 

This is particularly grave because of the SGA's main flaw: its internal app memory of 158MB. Facebook and Maps become very bloated over time, so regular clearing of data and limiting the messaging history are a necessity even if you keep as many apps as possible on a micro-SD card. Rooting the device and removing some apps has helped in this regard but shouldn't really be necessary.


Almost one year on I'm still fond of my Galaxy Ace. The internal memory problem is an annoyance, but not fatal; the screen format is nice; and its similarity to the bigger Galaxy phones is a style plus. I would recommend the phone as a good first smartphone because of its uncluttered simplicity, but a 3D gaming monster it ain't. 7/10

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