Samsung Galaxy Ace Review

Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA andAT&T, but without 3G.


If Samsung was hiding a secret card up its sleeve, one with ambition to trump mid-range Android smartphones with a smart combination of price and features, the Samsung Galaxy Ace would be our first guess. Rather than shooting for the stars it offers the almost complete Android experience in a relatively affordable package at a retail price of around $350. Hard facts speak of an 800MHz Qualcomm chipset and 278MB of RAM under the hood here. Samsung throwed in a 5-megapixel shooter and a conveniently located microSD card slot on the side, all in a handset with a 3.5-inch screen, looking somewhat similar to the iPhone 4. Will this be enough for its market success? Read on to find out.


Design is what differentiates a company in the already packed Android smartphone space, but the Galaxy Ace delivers a body with a subtle yet noticeable similarity to Apple's iPhone 4. The phone comes with an equally sized 3.5-inch TFT screen with a resolution of 320 x 480 pixels. Response to tapping and flicking is excellent, but in direct sunlight the screen is barely legible. Samsung skipped on the oleophobic coating, but hey – looking at the price we see no surprise here, right? To continue the list of similarities, the bezel around the screen almost matches the one on the iPhone 4 in terms of size, but the single large physical key on the bottom is what really jogs you into linking the Ace with Apple's iPhone. Finally, one capacitive button on each of the sides of the physical home key rounds up the fascia of the handset. The Galaxy Ace comes in two versions – a black and a white one.

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

On the side, a silver chromed plastic line adds to the iPhone look of the phone. It holds the volume rocker on the left, the hot swappable microSD card slot located in the middle of the right side (up to 32GB of expandable memory) and accompanied by the lock key above it. On top you have a sliding door for the microUSB charging/syncing slot and 3.5 standard headset jack.

The back holds the 5-megapixel auto-focus camera which works in concert with LED flash. The only other thing you'll find on the back is the speakerphone.

While the Ace's glossy plastic has a nice solid feel, it is indeed a fingerprint magnet. Overall, the striking similarity with Apple's iPhone is what could make this phone attractive from a design standpoint. But it's only the looks, not the feel that you could try to emulate with such a handset, right?

Samsung Galaxy Ace 360-degree View:

Interface and Functionality:

Far from being crème de la crème, the combination of a Qualcomm MSM7227 chipset (with Adreno 200 graphics) and 278MB of RAM runs the Froyo show smoothly. Unlike the complete redesign of the main menu that we saw on the early prototype unit that we previewed, in the final Galaxy Ace the Koreans used a traditional version of TouchWiz UI. This translates into the usual garments of a black side scrollable main menu and four quick access icons on the bottom, which define the user interface.

Unlocking the handset is done in the traditional sliding-the-lock way. From there on, the standard Froyo experience takes over. One notable addition is pinch to zoom support in each of the homescreens as well as the main menu. In both cases an overview of all the pages appears allowing you to quickly navigate between them.

On the software side, you are treated with Samsung's AllShare app which makes sharing over DLNA to a supported device like an HD TV a breeze. The inclusion of a built-in Task Manager, which you can access by holding down the single physical key or via the settings menu, allows you to view running apps and how they affect the performance of the Galaxy Ace.

Android has the best Google appssuite in the industry and this handset is no exception. The Gmail, Google Maps (version 5.2), YouTube and Google Talk applications are virtually on par with their desktop versions both in terms of functionality and speed. In addition, the full version of ThinkFree office in its document editing glory contributes to a comprehensive software package.

Camera and Multimedia:

The 5-megapixel shooter on the Galaxy Ace surprised us with its good performance and reasonable amount of options in the menu for a relatively affordable handset. We found images to be reasonably detailed, with accurate color representation and above average dynamic range. You're presented with a set of options such as different shooting modes including smile shots, continuous and panoramic shots. An array of scene selections will fine tune your picture and you can also switch the focus to macro mode. Unfortunately, there is no dedicated shutter key, but the menu offers rather intuitive on-screen settings.

With a relatively capable 5-megapixel shooter, we expected to see an equally good video capture, but that is simply not the case. Video is recorded in the terrible QVGA resolution at 15fps - only good for viewing on a small screen or for multimedia messaging. 

Samsung Galaxy Ace Sample Video:

The 3.5-inch screen opens the door to video playback, but we could only play MPEG-4 files out of the box. A quick download from the Android Market (we tried RockPlayer) adds support for DivX/Xvid encoded files, but choppy and just plain slow playback rates were an issue when playing files at around the native resolution. A slight decrease in quality helped, so while you might encounter some issues with it, the Galaxy Ace could be considered for entertainment on the go, especially given its support for expandable memory of up to 32GB via microSD cards.

Internet and Connectivity:

The Galaxy Ace has the stock Android browser, which would have been great if it came with Flash support. Was it because of the 800MHz processor or something else, Adobe Flash Player wasn't available for download from the Android Market. Except for our futile attempts to install the player, browsing was a pleasant experience with smooth scrolling and full support for multitouch actions like pinch to zoom. On the downside, we could only open up to 4 tabs, so extreme Internet multitaskers could be disappointed.

Connectivity is well represented by 3G with download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps. You also have Wi-Fi b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1 and GPS. The handset's conveniently located microSD card slot on the side allows hot swaps of microSD cards with capacity of up to 32GB. The internal memory is only 158MB, but Samsung has included a 2GB microSD card in the package, so space shouldn't be an issue for your basic app needs.

Performance and Conclusion:

In our tests of its calling quality, though, it underwhelmed us with reverberating sounds on our end of the line. Our callers reported hearing rather unnatural digitized voices, which suggests a poor microphone performance.

The Ace comes with a 1350mAh battery, with a quoted talk time of 11 hours. In real life, the phone had no problem getting us through the day, but two days were generally a tall order, so we had to charge it every other day. If you want to squeeze the maximum of your battery for longer periods of times, check out our tips and tricks for better battery life.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace fights in the already packed mid-range Android segment, but with a screen of 3.5 inches and a relatively affordable price of just above $350 off contract, it is a notable contender. Sure, it doesn't break ground with its capabilities, but manages daily tasks with ease.

Currently, alternatives include the slightly cheaper LG Optimus One with a 3.2 inch screen and Android on board. The Samsung Wave has one of the better cameras out there and a gorgeous looking screen, but with it you have to be willing to switch to bada as your mobile operating system. Amazingly, Nokia's current flagship, the N8, sells for approximately the same price (or even lower), but brings the best camera in smartphones on the dated UI of Symbian^3.

Finally, for a mid-range Android, the Galaxy Ace really ups the game with its 3.5-inch screen. However, it fails in two main areas – video recording and Flash support. If it were for these alone, the Galaxy Ace would still be a pretty strong contender, but the below average calling quality, is what swung the balance for us.

Samsung Galaxy Ace Video Review:


  • iPhone-like looks
  • Above average camera for stills
  • Hot-swappable microSD cards (up to 32GB)


  • Poor video recording
  • Below average calling quality
  • No Flash
  • No DivX/Xvid codec support out of the box

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

19 Reviews

Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless