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Samsung Galaxy Ace expert review

The Samsung Galaxy Ace, although not the leader of the pack when it comes to features, is a reliable Android-powered smartphone that runs the most popular version of the Android Operating System, 2.3 (Gingerbread). This budget phone is good for browsing the internet and enjoying some casual smartphone apps. I think it's decent value for money when you consider that there's a 5MP camera, microSD card slot and 3.5" touchscreen on-board, so I'd recommend it as a first foray into Android but not for serious smartphone users. Read on to learn more.

Pros

  • 5MP camera with LED flash, geo-tagging and face and smile detection, Swype keyboard comes pre-installed for better predictive text, solid feature set for the price

Cons

  • Only 158MB of internal storage - you will need to buy a separate microSD card to add to the phone. The 800MHz processor, although reliable, falls far behind the processing speed more recent phones are capable of. Startup is slow, and the resolution on the touchscreen is a little low. The Galaxy Ace isn't eligible for the ICS (Android 4.0) update coming to other Samsung handsets.

Design

Galaxy Ace is available in black or white casings with a couple of limited edition alternatives available. There are discreet buttons around the edging for power and volume control. The microSD slot is external allowing for the switching of memory cards without the need to remove the battery. The resolution on the 3.5" touchscreen is just 320 x 480 pixels. This is fine for a screen of this size but compared to higher resolution phones may look a little fuzzy around the edges. The cover for the microSD slot is awkward to remove and for a Samsung phone the Galaxy Ace feels surprisingly heavy. As with many Samsung smartphones the microUSB slot has a sliding cover to protect the port from becoming damaged or cluttered from pocket fluff.

Hardware

Sporting a battery-friendly 800MHz Snapdragon processor, the Galaxy Ace is capable of running relatively intensive games like GTA III or The Sims 3. The camera takes pictures at 5MP or 2592 x 1944 pixels and is supported by an LED flash, for better photos in low light conditions. Memory on the phone is expandable via the microSD slot, and you can add a microSD card up to 32GB which you'll want to do as the onboard storage is a mere 158MB.

Software

The Galaxy Ace runs on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) software, one of the most popular versions of the Android OS. It also comes with the standard TouchWiz UI found on all Samsung Android phones bar the Nexus range, making the changeover from one Samsung handset to another a little more comfortable. The phone supports a range of media formats as standard including MP3, MP4, WAV and AAC, with support for other formats available through certain media apps like PowerAmp, downloadable from the Play Store. There is no DivX/Xvid support or Adobe Flash support in the web browser out of the box, so you won't be able to view certain videos on your phone without downloading third party applications to help your phone cope with the format.

Managing your mobile - top tips

  • Long press on an empty spot on the homescreen and select widget > power control to add an easy-to-use battery control unit to your touchscreen and quickly toggle your services on/off to maximise battery life
  • Purchase a portable charger to use when you're on the move, as the battery is non-removable and can't be swapped out
  • When you don't need to be connected (for instance if you're on the train or in a meeting), turn off your data connections by going to settings > wireless and networks > mobile networks > untick 'data enabled'. This will disable 3G. To disable location-based services go to settings > location based services >GPS. This will give you more battery life
  • Download Skype for Android and use it over Wi-Fi to make free voice calls to your family and friends (this will conserve your call allowance)
  • Download WhatsApp Messenger for Android and use it to send text-like messages to your contacts without using up your SMS allowance
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