Review: Samsung Galaxy Ace
Samsung Galaxy Ace
MRP: Rs 15,945
Street Price: Rs 15,200
Samsung, a noodle-producing company in the year 1938, became a successful wool producer post the Korean War. Later, it left a mark in businesses such as insurance, securities, and retail, before entering the black-and-white TV market. Today, this TV giant also produces memory chips, hard drives, and laptops, along with numerous other consumer electronics products. It is also the world s second largest mobile producer after Nokia. Seriously, its tagline should have been Jack of all trades .
Getting to the point, here is the review of the Samsung Galaxy Ace. Why so late, you ask. Well, the phone didn’t create an impact at the time of its release, but seeing the large number of review requests, we finally decided get it done.
Design And Specs
The retail package contains a phone, charger, headset, and a micro-USB data cable. The headset looks and feels cheap, and it s not what you d expect at this price tag. The phone has a “typical” Samsung design scheme. If you ve been keeping track of Samsung s touch catalogue, you must have noticed that its phones all look identical, with a few minor changes here and there. Makes you wonder if Samsung’s design team is plain dumb or just underpaid (like us). Have a look at the image to get an idea what I m talking about. Out of these phones, you can also try to guess the Galaxy Ace, to win… well, nothing.
The Ace measures 112.4 mm (h) x 59.9 mm x 11.5 mm (d). The body is too plastic, including the silver-coloured rim. It features a 3.5″ screen, which is slightly bigger when compared to its fellow mid-range Androids. Below the screen are three keys, namely Menu, Home, and Back. The first and last are actually capacitive keys that are only visible when backlit. However, the light turns off in around 5 seconds, which can be frustrating for new users. I guess Samsung wants to hide these keys most of the time to make its device look like an iPhone.
Here are some shots of the phone from several angles.
The back has a nice textured pattern that provides a superior grip over this 113 gramme device.
Samsung phones always look good on paper, and this one is no exception. The Ace is powered by a Qualcomm MSM7227, which is also to be found in the LG Optimus One. However, Samsung has clocked it at 800 MHz, giving it more power. This ARM 11 CPU has an Adreno 200 GPU for company. For connectivity, it features Wi-Fi, Bluetooth v2.1, and GPS. You can’t expect an HDMI-out in Android phones at this price range, but at least TV-out would have been a good addition.
The 3.5″ TFT LCD screen can display up to 320×480 pixels. The display size gives it an edge over the LG Optimus One and HTC Wildfire S. However, the screen looks odd because of an unusual height-to-width ratio. The screen is reasonably bright, but colours look lifeless. It offers decent viewing angles, but its reflective glass spoils the experience. Needless to say, the screen quality degrades further in broad daylight.
Interface And Applications
The Ace runs on Android 2.2 (Froyo) with Samsung’s TouchWiz 3.0 on top of it. The interface consists of seven home screens, but you can cut down the number. You can swipe through the screens, or you can pinch to zoom out, then select the desired home screen. Like any Android, the phone offers a good amount of customisation. The device handles Live Wallpapers nicely. However, noticeable jerks while swiping the home screen are present.
Multitasking has always been a strong point for Androids, and this device is no exception. A long press of the Home button lets you switch between recent apps.
Apart from showing obvious notifications, it also sports toggle icons for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, sound, and the screen auto rotate lock. The phone also comes with a nice Task Manager, which shows the CPU usage of live applications as well as the memory status of the device.
Android Market makes sure that you don’t get bored of this device. The Market is full of incredible apps, and many of them are free. We asked Angry Birds to test the device, and it gave a green signal, with no lags during gameplay.
The device’s GPS took 10 – 20 minutes to lock satellites in different areas. The delay could be very well because of cloudy skies. As usual, the GPS works well with Google Maps. It also offers directions to your desired location. However, it still cannot beat Nokia Ovi Maps, which can also be used offline.
A desktop-like browsing experience has been a strong selling point for Androids. Froyo has Flash support, but sadly isn’t present in the Ace’s browser – probably disabled to keep browsing snappy. This crippling might turn out to be a deal breaker for some. On the positive side, I tried different hotspots, and the phone had no problems in picking up their signals.
Finally, the icons for Samsung’s apps such as Music, Messages, Calculator, Contacts, and Camera look extremely cheap and lack any colour scheme. This shows Samsung’s shoddiness in the UI design department.
Telephony And Messaging
The in-call sound quality of the phone is decent, and signal reception is good too. However, if the person on the other side happens to be in a noisy place, his voice starts cracking badly, probably due to the lack of a noise filter.
The phonebook is easy to use, yet fully functional. You can relate your contacts to their email ids, Facebook profiles, as well as Twitter accounts.
Apart from the Gmail app, the device also has an independent email client. It supports multiple email accounts, but features a common inbox. Additional features, such as colour coding emails from different accounts, would have been a nice addition.
The interface of the default music player is strictly ok; again, Samsung’s bad design is to blame. It’s better to switch to third-party apps such as TuneWiki and Winamp. The player is loud, but the quality is below average with the provided headset. Using your favourite earphones can improve the experience, but still it’s not good enough. Moreover, the moment you connect the earphone, it makes a cracking sound. I’m not sure whether it’s the same case with all Ace phones, but an inferior quality audio jack could be behind it.
The video player is capable of MP4 playback, but DivX and XviD is a no go. Fortunately, third-party apps make up for the missing features. However, the device cannot play 720p videos. This makes DLNA support kind of pointless.
The Ace sports a 5 megapixel camera with a single LED flash. The camera interface is pretty decent, and features a virtual shutter key. The image quality is good, considering the small size of the lens. The camera manages to capture colours nicely. Thankfully, noise levels are kept low, without losing much detail. On the flip side, the device is only capable of QVGA video recording at 15 fps. This makes the camcorder function almost useless.
The 1350 mAh battery may not sound sufficient for an Android device. However, the relatively low-power processor works in the favour of the Ace, and provides 7 hours of uptime despite heavy usage. Moderate use can keep using the device all day.
Available for Rs 15,200, Samsung Galaxy Ace is a good performer in the mid-range segment. However, it suffers due to its uninspiring design. Seriously, it’s high time that Samsung shows some creativity in design, rather than just relying on faster chips to sell its phones. Specs-wise, the Ace scores over both the LG Optimus One and HTC Wildfire S. Still, LG’s offering has the advantage of an Rs 10,000 price tag, which makes it an excellent value phone. On the other hand, the Wildfire S offers great build quality and the latest Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) for Rs 13,500. HTC’s Sense UI is also far superior. Moreover, the recent price drop of the Motorola Defy has made matters even worse for the Ace. The Defy offers a higher pixel count in its 3.7″ screen, a better UI, and all the other bells and whistles at a price of Rs 15,600, making it an irresistible deal. A price cut to under Rs 14,000 is the only way the Ace can get back in the game.
Design & Build Quality: 2/5
Value For Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 3/5