Despite the Samsung Galaxy S being probably the best Android phone of 2010, Samsung’s mid-range Android phones have been pretty mediocre to date. With small screens and out-of-date software versions, Samsung have lagged well behind HTC in this arena. This situation may be changing in 2011 with the release of new mid-range Galaxy handsets including the Samsung Galaxy Ace and the Samsung Galaxy Mini.
The Ace sits below the flagship Galaxy S phone and is a very smart-looking beast, with a premium look and feel thanks to its high gloss finish and metallic edging strip. The Ace runs Android 2.2 (Froyo), which is the same as most current Android phones, although version 2.3 (Gingerbread) would have been the icing on the cake. As usual, Samsung have overlaid Android with their own custom user interface, TouchWiz 3.0, making for a very user-friendly experience, with social networking and contacts closely integrated.
The display on the Ace is a good size at 3.5 inches, which is appropriate for this price point, although the similarly-priced HTC Desire has a larger 3.7 inch display. The screen resolution of 320 x 480 pixels is on the low side however.
The rest of the hardware on the Ace is decidedly mid-range too. The 800 MHz processor is no slouch, but the 158MB of onboard memory does limit the number of apps that can be stored. The memory can be expanded up to 32GB with a memory card, but we’d still like to have more memory embedded in the device itself. The 1350mAh battery is adequate, but Android phones really eat battery power and it would have been nice to have seen a more powerful battery on board the Ace.
Nevertheless the Ace is a powerful phone with many great features, including a music player, FM radio with RDS, assisted GPS with Google Maps, plus access to the full range of apps from the Android Market. Connectivity ticks all the boxes, with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, USB and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s fast HSDPA internet access too on a 3G network.
The Ace comes equipped with a high-end camera. With a 5 megapixel sensor, plus autofocus and LED flash, this is capable of taking good pictures, for a camera phone. It can also record high quality video, although not at HD resolution.
The Ace is priced at around £20 per month, making it comparable with other Android phones such as the HTC Desire. Although it’s a nice phone, we’d choose the Desire over the Ace, so it looks as if HTC may continue to dominate the mid-range Android phone market for the foreseeable future.