Samsung GALAXY Ace Preview

Introduction and Design

Recently, Samsung released a quartet of Android handsets for pretty much every Android lover wishing for a low- to mid-range smartphone. The most prominent of the four – the Samsung GALAXY Ace GT-S5830 has the familiar candybar styling with a large menu button and two capacitive ones that give it a typical Samsung look. With a screen sized at the healthy 3.5 inches, but with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels, which just screams run-of-the-mill, it still looks miles ahead of the rest in the quartet where resolution gets pixelized to plain ugly. Don't expect anything extraordinary from the 800 MHz Qualcomm processor – it gets the job done without breaking the benchmarks. Actually, the Ace fits perfectly in the mid-range segment, so perfectly that it might even outdo the LG Optimus One in sales if Samsung prices the Ace accordingly.

But before we jump into more details about the Android experience, let's take a close look at the design of the Samsung GALAXY Ace.


The key word here is glossy plastic. Nothing surprising from Samsung, but we could still sigh and wish for something a bit more classy. The glossy plastic body has shapes actually resembling both the Galaxy S and the iPhone 4 together in a weird way, and while it is a fingerprint magnet, there is some allure to it because of that resemblance. Add to that the light feel of the device weighing slightly less than 4 ounces along with its average dimensions of 4.43 x 2.36 x 0.45 inches and you have a compelling mid-range phone.

You can compare the Samsung GALAXY Ace with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

The 3.5-inch TFT capacitive touchscreen (with multitouch support) boasts 16 million colors with a pretty average resolution of 320 x 480, but just the size of it ups the game in mid-range smartphones. Colors are vivid, but naturally, not as deep as on a Super AMOLED display. Sunlight legibility could be an issue – in one of the rare sunny days in winter we took the Ace for a walk and struggled to make out objects under direct sunlight. But all of this is expected for a mid-range device and we can overlook those flaws as minor.

Just like the other three handsets Samsung released, the GALAXY Ace has a microSD card slot on the side allowing for hot swap of memory cards. It supports up to 32GB of memory for your precious data and is nicely protected with a lid. The volume rocker on the left hand side feels comfortable to press, while the right side holds the power button. The top part of the Ace houses the microUSB slot used to charge the handset. It is also protected with a lid.

A mid-range device is a mid-range device, which means that a 5-megapixel camera is a nice addition, especially if we count its LED flash and autofocusing capabilities. You will find the camera on the back, which also holds the speakerphone grill and having said that we can now jump to what really matters – Android Froyo and its performance.

Samsung GALAXY Ace 360-degree View:

Interface and Functionality:

Pairing Android with custom skinning is not always a good idea as vanilla builds already look very good, but this time Samsung brought something completely different. What we see on our GALAXY Ace is what seems to be a complete redesign of the TouchWiz UI, with colorful animated icons arranged by the dozen in each page of the menu. An accent, reminiscent of the menu in the Samsung Star II, which has a proprietary interface. The icons flip when you tap them and give a refreshing look to the familiar blacks of the Android main menu. We should note however that we have a prototype unit, so the final UI might be different (read: standard TouchWiz).

The rest of the functionality is stock Android Froyo and it runs smoothly, just as you would want it. Extreme multitasking - of course - slows it down, but a long press on the home button key gets you into the task manager where you can close apps to get back to the usual performance.

Swype input works great on the GALAXY Ace and there is support for multiple languages – obviously this handset will be launched in many markets where this feature will be highly appreciated. The size of the screen is crucial for the typing experience and that's one of the key reasons for the Ace to dominate with its 3.5-inch screen over the comparably smallish 3.2-inch LG Optimus One.

Messaging and email is the standard Froyo treat with a great Gmail client and quick integration with all Google products. Android certainly is the way to go for the user entrenched in Google's ecosystem.

Browser, Connectivity and Software:

The stock browser on the GALAXY Ace doesn't surprise with anything new. While it runs smooth enough, unfortunately it doesn' support Flash content. A handful of other browsers such as Opera Mobile are available on the Android Market for those wanting more customization of their browsing.

When it comes to connectivity, the GALAXY Ace has 3G covered with HSDPA radio capable of 7.2 Mbps transfers and the usual Wi-Fi/GPS/Bluetooth package is there.

Software-wise you get a full version of the ThinkFree Office app for viewing and editing your documents, which is a welcome addition to the usual package. And for Samsung it includes apps such as the Social Hub and All Share, which come pre-installed. A list of most recently accessed tasks, as well as the task manager is accessed by holding the home key.

Camera and Multimedia:

We already started comparing the GALAXY Ace to the very successful LG Optimus One, which we think will be its main rival, and the first thing we noticed when comparing the two was the difference in cameras. Although our unit wasn't final, we tried its 5-megapixel camera and found the picture quality to be just above average. While we are content with the picture quality on the Optimus One, it just seems that 3 megapixels doesn't cut it anymore and we give our preference to the GALAXY Ace.

Picture detail is richer on the GALAXY Ace and we found color reproduction pretty accurate as well. Settings include different shooting modes including Smile shots and Continuous shooting, as well as Panorama mode. Scene selection offers a wide variety of scenes: Portrait, Landscape, Night, Backlight, etc. Take a look at the pictures below, but take into account that our unit was not yet final, so the quality might change in the final one.

Video recording is not the Ace's strong side. While it does record video, its QVGA resolution at 15 fps looks terrible even on the 3.5-inch screen. That's one of the biggest drawbacks, but we hope that Samsung will change it in the final unit.

Samsung GALAXY Ace Sample Video:

When it comes to multimedia, the screen estate is the most important asset. We managed to play only MPEG-4 videos out of the box, but a quick download of your favorite player on the Market will let you view different encodings as well. Nowadays, however, most of the video watching happens in YouTube and the YouTube app on Android is just extremely powerful – you can share and like videos, easily watch related clips and Android even lets you listen to videos when your device is locked. For music, you have the standard Froyo experience, which is fine. Sound quality on the Ace is good, it was relatively loud and clear when playing music through the loudspeaker; the handset also comes with FM Radio support.


There seems to be a lot to love in the Samsung GALAXY Ace: the snappy 800 MHz Qualcomm processor, the screen estate of 3.5 inches and the hot swappable microSD card. On the negative side, its glossy plastic body is not the best out there (even for a mid-range handset), the resolution is average and sunlight legibility could have been better, but these are minor flaws for a handset which seems to up the game for mid-range devices with a larger screen and a pretty decent processor. And if Samsung acts wisely with the pricing, it could have a winner here.

Samsung GALAXY Ace Video Preview:

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