Click here to watch our Nifty Tricks video of the Samsung Galaxy Ace.
It's comfortable in the hand, and looks classy and stylish. The build quality isn't as great as some rivals, and the screen is average rather than eye-popping
The physical home button is useful, and the TouchWiz overlay is minimal enough to not get in the way of Android's easy interface
A good camera, Wi-Fi and decent GPS are all on the money, though the lack of HD video recording is a shame
Sometimes the Ace is speedy and effective, but if you have too many programs running it can noticeably slow down, which is disappointing
The Ace has good battery life, better than, dare we say it, the iPhone 4 it resembles. Daily charges are best but it will probably last two days
Review by Sunetra Chakravati,2/8/2011 10:35:36 AM
Look and feel
Ease of use
Cool looks, great price, decent features
Processor shows it?s not on the same level as many other smartphones
The iPhone 4 is all very well, but it's not cheap. If you fancy something that looks frankly pretty similar but costs a lot less, should you consider this lookalike from Samsung? Don't get me wrong, Samsung hasn't claimed this as an iPhone knock-off, though it's hard to believe it's entirely a coincidence.
First, let's see how similar it looks. Well, it has a minmalist front with horizontal earpiece grille and central button below the screen (though the button here is oblong, not round). Otherwise, it looks as blank as the iPhone, until you touch the home button that makes two touch-sensitive lights spring into view. These are for menu and back functions.
Then there's the edge, which is metallic-looking, though it's not an antenna as the iPhone's is – which may be an advantage, of course. And the edge also features volume controls and a power button (like Apple) but also a microSD card slot. Finally, when you flip the phone over, there's another feature not found on the iPhone 4 (yet): a white cover. In fact, you can choose between white and black casings. It's slightly round-edged and isn't as slim as the iPhone 4 either.
Nonetheless, at first glance you could get away with it, almost, as the pricier Apple handset. The trouble is, from second glance onwards, it's a very different machine. Touch the screen and you'll see a display that really couldn't be called 'Retina'. Where the Apple screen has resolution of 960x640 pixels, this one manages just half (480x320), the same as the iPhone 3GS. Not terrible, then, but decidedly average, especially as it's not an AMOLED screen, Samsung's speciality. Anyway, enough of the comparisons, let's consider the phone on its own terms.
The Ace uses a recent but not the latest version of Android, version 2.2.1. Not much was added in version 2.3, though, so this is good enough. Samsung adds its own interface to Android, though TouchWiz is not an overlay with the sophistication of HTC's Sense, for instance. There are even some Samsung-brand apps, though they are few and far between. These include a social networking hub, which loads a web browser and takes you to the relevant site, Twitter or Facebook, for instance, so not that useful.
Still, Samsung has an arrangement with Swype, so the inclusion of this quirky but highly usable keyboard where you drag your finger around the QWERTY to type words is welcome. Though this shouldn't stop you from trying rival app Swiftkey with its uncanny word prediction capabilities.
Although this phone is pitched at the mid-range, it includes a five-megapixel camera with LED flash. There's no HD video recording but the stills quality is more than acceptable.
Many smartphones these days sport a 1GHz processor. The Ace can only boast an 800MHz chip and it's true that sometimes the lag is evident – the phone is not as fast as some rivals. Fast is nice, but waiting is annoying and there are times when the Ace keeps you waiting.
Strangely, the range of live wallpapers the phone offers is limited to just one. It's a new one, and quite nice – elegant cartoon line-drawings of trees swaying in a forest – but it's odd that there are no alternatives. Mind you, live wallpapers do sap the battery that bit faster, though the Ace has great battery life.
This is a neat-looking handset which, if there was no iPhone 4 to compare it to, would be snazzily appealing. Of course, it doesn't compare to Apple's handset but it's much cheaper and it runs Android, which for many will be a bonus. Plus, it's well-specced and enjoyable to use.