Affordable Android smartphones will be in demand this Christmas, so we took a look at the budget Samsung Galaxy Ace.
Look and feel
The Samsung Galaxy Ace has a solid, minimalist design. It has a black glossy facade at the front with touch-based back and menu icons and a central rectangular button acting as the home icon. It’s quite a compact device and feels comfortable to hold.
The smartphone has a 3.5-inch, 480 x 320 TFT display – it’s not the most vivid compared to high-end smartphones, but still looks well on this budget device.
I’m testing out the Galaxy Ace with the Lace design. This basically means that this version of the Galaxy Ace has stylised back cover – it’s pink with black stripes and a white pattern – which is a cute touch. Those who aren’t into pink needn’t worry too much, however, as the smartphone also comes with a textured black cover and a plain white cover if you want to change it up.
Android 2.3 (Gingerbead)
3.5 inch HVGA (480×320) TFT display
158MB internal memory, expandable up to 32GB with microSD card
OS and apps
The Galaxy Ace runs on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). Samsung hasn’t made any major modifications to the standard Android interface. As with many other Android smartphones, it has multiple customisable homescreens, widgets, access to the Android Market and its web browser.
The phone works quite quickly, considering it has an 800MHz processor. The screen is responsive and it loads up apps and websites through its browser smoothly.
Samsung has included a few of its own apps, including a social hub, AllShare and its Swype keyboard.
The Social Hub is a one-stop shop for your SMS and social media messages. You can sync up your text messages, Twitter replies, Facebook messages, Google messages, Microsoft Exchange messages and even MySpace messages so you can access them all in one place. You can synchronise it to update your social networking messages every three hours to every 24 hours. It’s all right if you want to check everything in one place, but it may be easier to just download the specific apps and receive notifications whenever you get an update.
Samsung has integrated the Swype software into its keyboard. It lets you slide your finger across the screen to each letter and recognises which keys you wish to input. It’s a useful tool for fast texting, particularly on its 3.5-inch screen.
AllShare is included, which lets you share photos, videos and images from your phone wirelessly to a PC or DLNA-compatible TV. It also has ThinkFree Office, an app which lets you view and share your Office documents on your phone. You can also store them online with a ThinkFree account.
The camera on the Galaxy Ace has a 5-megapixel sensor, producing a decent quality image for sharing online. The phone also has a LED Flash for low-light areas.
You can select from numerous scene modes for your shot, including sports, beach/snow and backlight. You can also adjust settings, such as exposure, focus white balance and the ISO.
Budget smartphones will be in high demand for Christmas this year, as consumers look for the perks of having a smartphone without having to spend big money or commit to long-term contracts. The Galaxy Ace is definitely a top contender in the budget smartphone arena. The sacrifices it does make to keep the price down feel minor compared to what it gives you – an attractive, speedy smartphone with the benefits of the Android OS.
The Lace version of the Samsung Galaxy Ace is available on O2, Meteor and eMobile from €189.99 on prepay from The Carphone Warehouse.
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