Samsung Galaxy Ace

The Ace looks and feels good, and executes the basics with ease, but we expect a lot more from a phone at this price point.


6.5
CNET Rating
4.5
User Rating

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Joe capitalises on a life-long love of blinking lights and upbeat MIDI soundtracks covering the latest developments in smartphones and tablet computers. When not ruining his eyesight staring at small screens, Joe ruins his eyesight playing video games and watching movies. Twitter: @Joseph_Hanlon


Design

You may have heard that Apple has recently filed a lawsuit against Samsung for designing phones that it believes look too much like the iPhone. This suit listed a number of previous Samsung products, but in our opinion, Apple has never had as strong a case for this claim as it does against the Galaxy Ace. The combination of the 3.5-inch display, the size and shape of the bezel around the screen, the single mechanical button and the stainless steel trim make the Ace seem very familiar.

Brothers from another mother?
(Credit: Samsung/Apple/CBSi)

But then, we don't think that this is a bad thing for consumers, and whether you agree or not, the Ace is a very sturdy-feeling phone. We like the size of it in our hands, and we like the feel of the mesh-like grip on the charcoal-coloured plastic battery cover. The 3.5-inch screen uses capacitive touchscreen technology and is extremely responsive, though its HVGA (320 x 480) pixel resolution and its LCD panel look a little dull and blocky.

Samsung finds space for a 5-megapixel camera and an LED flash on the back of the Ace, alongside an external speaker grille. There's a headphone socket at the top of this phone, and a microSD card slot on the right-hand side, filled with a 2GB card that can be replaced with a card up to 32GB in capacity.

User experience

Samsung employs its TouchWiz UI in its Ace, similar to last year's hugely successful Galaxy S. Unlike the Galaxy S, however, the Ace doesn't suffer from the same performance glitches, and the experience is, for the most part, quite smooth and unobtrusive. TouchWiz includes up to seven home screens for widgets, and Samsung includes a range of widgets to use, though none offer anything new or innovative.

A big plus in favour of the Ace, compared with other phones in this price range, is the inclusion of a Swype keyboard. Samsung has included Swype in a number of its Android releases, and if you haven't used Swype before, you're in for a real treat.

One major disappointment, and it was a complete surprise for us, was that the Ace is incompatible with Adobe Flash, even though it runs on the Android Froyo (2.2) platform. Flash is one of the major points of difference for Android compared with other platforms, and we believe that most people choosing an Android phone would expect to be able to watch videos in the browser. We're guessing that Samsung has left Flash out to preserve performance, but those considering an Ace should keep this is mind.

Camera

A 5-megapixel camera sounds like a very generous addition in a mid-tier handset, especially when flash and auto-focus are included. However, these specifications are not indicative of the quality of the photos that this camera takes.

The soft-focus and the flaring of whites gives this photo the appearance of a cheap glamour photo.
(Credit: CBSi)

Multimedia

One of the best parts of Samsung's Android customisations is the baked-in music player. The player itself looks a lot like the basic Android player, but adds access to a bunch of preset equaliser settings to help you tweak the output for each album that you listen to. It also supports 5.1 surround sound output for when you plug the Ace into your home stereo system.

Those hoping to use their phones as a portable video player would be wise to avoid the Galaxy Ace. The lack of Flash, as we mentioned earlier, will hamper your efforts to watch video online, and we also found it lacking when it came to file recognition of videos stored on its internal (or expandable) memory. Of all of our standard test videos, the Ace only played one: a low-quality MP4 video. While it's possible to download a more robust player from the Market or to spend time converting your videos into compatible MP4 files, it is disappointing that the video options are so few for a handset in this price range.

Performance

As we previously described, the general performance across the user experience is very good. The 800MHz processor and dedicated graphics in the Ace deliver smooth, mostly seamless navigation. We did experience a few minor pauses, and noticed infrequent animation stutters, but for the most part, the Ace pulls its weight well.

Comparatively, the Ace outstrips its Samsung stablemate, the Galaxy 551 (another Telstra exclusive), in benchmarks — but like the 551, it falls well behind other handsets in the AU$59 cap contract price range. The Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc will cost the same on an Optus AU$59 plan, but is in a completely different league, with performance results nearly three times higher across most tests.

Battery life is decent — the upside to the low-resolution screen and the lack of Adobe Flash playback — though we did note some erratic and inaccurate battery level monitoring on the phone. To indicate remaining battery life, the Ace relies on a colour-coded meter (as do most smartphones) but this meter only seems to have three increments: full, half and nearly empty. This means that while it may look like you have most of your battery remaining, you might actually be down to as low as 30% and have no idea.

Overall

While we appreciate its iPhone-esque good looks and its smooth user experience, we feel that the Galaxy Ace is more trade-offs and sacrifices than a bargain. Perhaps a better-looking screen would add considerably to its price, and perhaps Flash and high-quality video playback would stunt its performance, but without these elements, you are left with a decent phone for calls messaging and web browsing. While we agree that this would suit most people's needs, we don't think that you should have to pay this much for the functionality included. Whether you choose one of Telstra's expensive plan options or buy it outright for AU$528, the Galaxy Ace doesn't compare with other Telstra handsets at the same price point, like the HTC Desire.

That said, we have seen online stores selling the Ace for considerably cheaper, some as low as AU$320. This is a much more reasonable price for the Ace if you plan to buy it outright.



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BobT1 posted a comment   

This is the worst phone I have ever had. Want to make a call? Go to the dialer and wait ENDLESSLY for the page to become functional. Try to type a number in and it's so laggy it takes 10 seconds to respond to a finger touch. Avoid. Avoid.

 

MarciaN posted a comment   

Yep, people are real, bratty losers & idiots when something doesn't go their way. Judge the phone for everyone else because you had bad luck, and/or don't know how to manage technology for maximum use!? And I see reviews that are too recent too, meaning if you paid much more than AUD$200, you are totally not savvy in the first place. (Buying on a plan makes you a cheap idiot. I, if on a plan, would spend not much more for a much more powerful phone!). 2 years ago, I bought it for a bit over AUD$200 outright, and the very decent performance it's given me in GPS alone is worth more than that! (Using Sygic for free). I've killed myself with games on it, thanks Angry Birds for most worthwhile addiction... It's the only phone for both me and my girl, our alarm, etc, etc, and jeez I have a hell of a lot of fun and learn so much about the best smartphone Revolution, (and that's Android). And I forgot about the camera! You and I are the Billionth photographer in the world, and if you want great/er quality, BUY A CAMERA, loser. It's camera has faithfully recorded (and shared) the birth and growth of my amazingly beautiful & charming baby... No one ever noticed photo quality issues. (Go to hell, billionth photographer in the world who demands greater quality... and from their cheapest smartphone!) Iphone is a HUGE waste of money, people. Status item bollocks.
Look, I may be super smart, but any idiot can do what I did, which is research online, and I've been happy to be able to fix NUMEROUS bugs, (and the vast majority of phones will have some or more of those). Did you put StockRom on it? Are you smart enough? I wasn't satisfied enough with StockRom, so I went further and found that StockRom Evolution, is maybe even better - thanks to developers who do that stuff for free... (If you go for "prettier", wannabe ICS, S2 or 3, for me boring style roms and lose performance, your own silly fault... And depending on the rom that it came with, well, be more imaginative and do SOMETHING interesting and for yourself...) Wake up and don't totally put something down because YOU had bad luck/ lack of clues in how to resolve stuff!
And what accidentally brought me here is that FINALLY, my cheapest smartphone is bringing a bit more of a serious issue; after 2 years, the charging port is a bit haywire... THAT'll cost me about ten bucks and half an hour for ME to fix!
Good day. Thanks Samsung.

 

MarciaN posted a comment   

Yep, people are real, bratty losers & idiots when something doesn't go their way. Judge the phone for everyone else because you had bad luck, and/or don't know how to manage technology for maximum use!? And I see reviews that are too recent too, meaning if you paid much more than AUD$200, you are totally not savvy in the first place. (Buying on a plan makes you a cheap idiot. I, if on a plan, would spend not much more for a much more powerful phone!). 2 years ago, I bought it for a bit over AUD$200 outright, and the very decent performance it's given me in GPS alone is worth more than that! (Using Sygic for free). I've killed myself with games on it, thanks Angry Birds for most worthwhile addiction... It's the only phone for both me and my girl, our alarm, etc, etc, and jeez I have a hell of a lot of fun and learn so much about the best smartphone Revolution, (and that's Android). And I forgot about the camera! You and I are the Billionth photographer in the world, and if you want great/er quality, BUY A CAMERA, loser. It's camera has faithfully recorded (and shared) the birth and growth of my amazingly beautiful & charming baby... No one ever noticed photo quality issues. (Go to hell, billionth photographer in the world who demands greater quality... and from their cheapest smartphone!) Iphone is a HUGE waste of money, people. Status item bollocks.
Look, I may be super smart, but any idiot can do what I did, which is research online, and I've been happy to be able to fix NUMEROUS bugs, (and the vast majority of phones will have some or more of those). Did you put StockRom on it? Are you smart enough? I wasn't satisfied enough with StockRom, so I went further and found that StockRom Evolution, is maybe even better - thanks to developers who do that stuff for free... (If you go for "prettier", wannabe ICS, S2 or 3, for me boring style roms and lose performance, your own silly fault... And depending on the rom that it came with, well, be more imaginative and do SOMETHING interesting and for yourself...) Wake up and don't totally put something down because YOU had bad luck/ lack of clues in how to resolve stuff!
And what accidentally brought me here is that FINALLY, my cheapest smartphone is bringing a bit more of a serious issue; after 2 years, the charging port is a bit haywire... THAT'll cost me about ten bucks and half an hour for ME to fix!
Good day. Thanks Samsung.

 

MarciaN posted a comment   

Yep, people are real, bratty losers & idiots when something doesn't go their way. Judge the phone for everyone else because you had bad luck, and/or don't know how to manage technology for maximum use!? And I see reviews that are too recent too, meaning if you paid much more than AUD$200, you are totally not savvy in the first place. (Buying on a plan makes you a cheap idiot. I, if on a plan, would spend not much more for a much more powerful phone!). 2 years ago, I bought it for a bit over AUD$200 outright, and the very decent performance it's given me in GPS alone is worth more than that! (Using Sygic for free). I've killed myself with games on it, thanks Angry Birds for most worthwhile addiction... It's the only phone for both me and my girl, our alarm, etc, etc, and jeez I have a hell of a lot of fun and learn so much about the best smartphone Revolution, (and that's Android). And I forgot about the camera! You and I are the Billionth photographer in the world, and if you want great/er quality, BUY A CAMERA, loser. It's camera has faithfully recorded (and shared) the birth and growth of my amazingly beautiful & charming baby... No one ever noticed photo quality issues. (Go to hell, billionth photographer in the world who demands greater quality... and from their cheapest smartphone!) Iphone is a HUGE waste of money, people. Status item bollocks.
Look, I may be super smart, but any idiot can do what I did, which is research online, and I've been happy to be able to fix NUMEROUS bugs, (and the vast majority of phones will have some or more of those). Did you put StockRom on it? Are you smart enough? I wasn't satisfied enough with StockRom, so I went further and found that StockRom Evolution, is maybe even better - thanks to developers who do that stuff for free... (If you go for "prettier", wannabe ICS, S2 or 3, for me boring style roms and lose performance, your own silly fault... And depending on the rom that it came with, well, be more imaginative and do SOMETHING interesting and for yourself...) Wake up and don't totally put something down because YOU had bad luck/ lack of clues in how to resolve stuff!
And what accidentally brought me here is that FINALLY, my cheapest smartphone is bringing a bit more of a serious issue; after 2 years, the charging port is a bit haywire... THAT'll cost me about ten bucks and half an hour for ME to fix!
Good day. Thanks Samsung.

 

MarciaN posted a comment   

Yep, people are real, bratty losers

 

MarkH5 posted a comment   
Australia

had this phone over 12 months been great, use camera at car shows transfers to computer well. no problems with dropout or battery life(i don't use for games) for my first android is great. had i'phone 3 given to me but did not like it after 3 days put it in the desk went back to ace will keep this for a while yet.

 

Billinter posted a comment   
United States

Beware. The charging port gives trouble on this phone and it is not covered by warranty. The phone gave up working after only 27 days and costs $60 to have repaired. A new phone gives up after 27 days?

Our friends at Virgin Mobile Canada suggested that the problem was caused bu plugging the charger in an out to often.

This is serious - the mobile phone was 27 days old.

 

RebeccaK posted a comment   

i got a new one 40 days ago,,,broke down 2 days then they gave me a new one and broke down aftwer 40 days...its the worse...they keep saying its great but its not...when u see this phone go right by it if no one buys theis cvrap phone maybe they will stop selling this phone....

 

RebeccaK posted a comment   

do not buy this phone waste of money breaks down after 2 days or 40 days relaly bad phone...0/10..

 

BiancaB posted a comment   

This is possibly the worst phone I have ever owned. Prior to this I had a Nokia E71 and I regret purchasing the Ace. It has many faults, terrible coverage (not to do with my service provider - my brother's iphone worked fined on the same provider) and it would randomly stop working and turn off, even with a full battery. The battery life was dismal and the phone would often die from being left on standby. This phone would often drop out during phone calls and the screen was extremely fragile, resulting in cracks. The app store was really difficult to use. The camera was terrible quality and did not have a front camera. The Ace has been a terrible waste of time and an overall disappointing phone. I will avoid the decision to buy Samsung again, their Ace was useless. I am now purchasing an iPhone 4S. Save yourself the time, don't buy this terrible piece of junk.


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User Reviews / Comments  Samsung Galaxy Ace

  • BobT1

    BobT1

    "This is the worst phone I have ever had. Want to make a call? Go to the dialer and wait ENDLESSLY for the page to become functional. Try to type a number in and it's so laggy it takes 10 seconds to..."

  • MarciaN

    MarciaN

    "Yep, people are real, bratty losers & idiots when something doesn't go their way. Judge the phone for everyone else because you had bad luck, and/or don't know how to manage technology for maximum ..."

  • MarciaN

    MarciaN

    "Yep, people are real, bratty losers & idiots when something doesn't go their way. Judge the phone for everyone else because you had bad luck, and/or don't know how to manage technology for maximum ..."

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