Samsung Galaxy S Advance Review

Introduction and Design

Dual-core processors are so last year, don't you think? However, there isn't anything wrong with that since the advancement of quad-core silicon is now paving the way for dual-core chips to invade the mid-range market. Take the Samsung Galaxy S Advance, for example: it is powered by a NovaThor U8500 chipset made by ST Ericsson with 2 cores humming at 1GHz.

In addition, you get a 4-inch Super AMOLED display with WVGA resolution, 5-megapixel camera with auto-focus and LED flash, 14.4Mbps 3G radio, and 8 or 16 gigs of on-board storage.

Not too shabby for an Android mid-ranger, we must agree, but it is the smartphone's real-life performance that we are most interested in. That said, let us fire it up and see what the handset is capable of.

Box contents:

  • Wall charger
  • microUSB cable
  • Wired stereo headset with in-ear headphones
  • Replacement rubber tips for the headphones
  • Quick start guide


Upon holding the Samsung Galaxy S Advance for the first time, we noticed that it sports more than a few design cues present in other Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy Nexus. And that, of course, is a good thing as it adds a dose of premium feel to an otherwise mid-range device. On one hand, we have a curved glass display meant to follow the shape of the user's face more naturally. On the other, the fine texture on its back feels nice to the touch and adds a bit of extra grip. Furthermore, it is slightly thicker and heavier at the bottom, which makes it a bit more comfortable to grasp. Sure, the handset may be made entirely out of plastic, but thankfully, that doesn't spoil its otherwise pleasing looks too much.

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

The outlay of the three Android buttons located under the smartphone's display is familiar as well: a big physical home key is located in the middle, accompanied by two capacitive buttons for the menu and back functions. Fortunately, the capacitive buttons are not prone to accidental presses. Last but not least, the volume rocker and power key, which reside on the smartphone's left and right side respectively, respond with an excellent click when pressed.


The 4-inch Super AMOLED display on the Samsung Galaxy S Advance has a resolution of 480 by 800 pixels and uses a PenTile pixel arrangement. When HD smartphone displays are concerned, that shouldn't really make much of a difference, but on this WVGA display, small text appears slightly jagged, but not to the extent where it gets annoying. Looking at the good side of things, the display exhibits bright, punchy colors and high contrast levels, just like the case is with today's AMOLED displays. Also, it is bright enough to be used comfortably in broad daylight.

Samsung GALAXY S Advance 360-degrees View:

Interface and functionality:

What runs on the Samsung Galaxy S Advance is Android 2.3.6 Gingerbread customized with the all-familiar TouchWiz 4.0 user interface. And besides a few minor visual tweaks, there is really nothing new to show off here. At this time, we have no word as to whether Samsung is planning on updating the Galaxy S Advance to Ice Cream Sandwich, and failure to do so would be a huge drawback for the smartphone.

Our experienced thumbs had no troubles adjusting to the smartphone's on-screen virtual keyboard. Novice users might find typing in portrait mode a bit tricky at first, but getting used to the keyboard's outlay takes little time. Of course, switching over to landscape mode makes inputting those long e-mails and text messages much easier.

Processor and memory:

The Samsung Galaxy S Advance is equipped with a 1GHz dual-core processor – the NovaThor U8500 by ST Ericsson, paired with 768MB of RAM. That is plenty of processing power for a smartphone of this class, and we are happy to say that in 99% of the time, the smartphone's performance is as fluid as one would expect. Even 3D games such as Temple Run and Frontline Commando ran without dropping a frame.

Quadrant StandardAnTuTuNenaMark 2
Samsung Galaxy S Advance 2796521835,9
Samsung Galaxy S II3113607651
HTC One S4867701260,7
LG Optimus 3D 2057537025,3

Storage capacity won't be an issue if you get the 16GB Galaxy S Advance model, especially when expanding it further is possible with a microSD card of up to 32GB. If storage is not of high priority, simply go for the 8GB model and save yourself a few bucks. Just so you know, our 8GB review unit offers 4GB of user-available storage and 2.1GB are allocated for apps.

Internet Browser:

In terms of features, the built-in internet browser on the Samsung Galaxy S Advance has all necessities covered – pinch to zoom, tap to zoom, text reflow, Adobe Flash support, you name it. But above all, its performance is well above the average for a device of this class, so looking for alternatives won't be mandatory. Pages load quickly, scrolling is responsive, and Adobe Flash animations don't affect the browser's smoothness in any way.


Just like any other modern smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S Advance comes with Wi-Fi a/b/g/n, Bluetooth, and A-GPS. In addition, the FM radio with RDS will keep you entertained on the go. The 3G radio is rated for 14.4Mbps on the downlink, which is okay for a middle class smartphone.


The Samsung Galaxy S Advance is equipped with a 5-megapixel auto-focus camera, and an LED flash is present for those low-light situations. Video chats are made possible thanks to the 1.3-megapixel front-facing cam. In terms of quality, images aren't bad, but don't expect anything spectacular. Details are sufficient, but a tendency to underexposure is apparent. As the case is with all smartphone cameras, how good your photos look depends greatly on the lighting conditions.

Be aware that the camera is not free of shutter lag. It takes at least half a second before the frame is captured, and when lights are dim, that time increases considerably. When it comes to features, tap to focus is supported, and you have plenty of shooting modes and settings to experiment with.

The Samsung Galaxy S Advance can shoot video at 720p, and as the case is with still photos, footage looks good as long as the scene is well illuminated.

Samsung Galaxy S Advance Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy S Advance Indoor Sample Video:


The stock TouchWiz music player is not the fanciest one out there, but it gets the job done well, as we have seen plenty of times. Instead of an on-screen widget you get controls in your drop-down notification bar. Also, music playback can be controlled straight from the lock screen. The video player handles with ease videos of up to 720p. With the exception of QuickTime videos, all our samples were playable, including those encoded in DivX, Xvid, and H.264 formats.


Both the microphone and the earpiece perform flawlessly. Voices sound loud, clear, and natural, which makes having a conversation using the Samsung Galaxy S Advance quite enjoyable. The loudspeaker does not disappoint either as it is loud enough and does not distort the sound too much.

In terms of battery life, you can expect getting a bit over 7 hours of continuous talk time, which is an average figure. In stand-by mode, the smartphone should last for at least three weeks, and that is pretty good as well.


Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S Advance has absolutely no major drawbacks, which makes it a splendid mid-range Android device. We are more than content with its design, the hardware has no troubles handling every day tasks with ease, and the in-call audio quality is absolutely ear-pleasing. Add the smartphone's well-justified price tag to the equation and you get a clear winner in this category. It may be a bit disappointing to see that the aging Android 2.3 Gingerbread comes pre-loaded, but having the handset's capable hardware in mind, we really hope that an update to Ice Cream Sandwich will come sooner or later.
Software version of the reviewed unit:

Android version: Android 2.3.6
Baseband version: I9070XXLD1

Samsung Galaxy S Advance Review:


  • Great in-call audio quality
  • Fluid performance


  • Gingerbread at launch
  • Camera could have been better

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

9 Reviews

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