Look and feel
Samsung’s Galaxy Ace 2 packs a standard budget design, with a slightly chunky plastic frame. The rounded finish and well-placed buttons make it comfortable to use
Ease of use
The 3.8-inch screen is a sight easier to text, email and browse the web with than most compact budget displays, and the TouchWiz interface is slick, even if it does hide a creaky Gingerbread version of Android
The five-megapixel camera makes the Galaxy Ace 2 a competent budget snapper, with flash and auto-focus thrown in. You only get 4GB of storage space but a microSD slot gives you room to expand
The Galaxy Ace 2’s dual-core processor can easily handle games and apps, which load quickly and run smoothly. We saw no issues when playing with the TouchWiz interface either
The Galaxy Ace 2 survives a full day of moderate use with most settings enabled, and can cope with seven hours of media streaming via apps such as YouTube before the battery fully drains
Samsung has come up with some impressive high-end smartphones and tablets this year, with the new Galaxy S III and Note II giving shiny gadget lovers an incredible bit of pocket-sized tech to show off around town – providing they’ve got the cash to stump up. Thankfully Samsung hasn’t forgotten the rest of us, who don’t have quite as much moolah to splash around. The Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is a formidable budget mobile that costs half as much as its bigger brothers, but still packs enough power and features to satisfy almost all users.
Samsung has plastered its TouchWiz 4 interface over Google’s Android Gingerbread 2.3, effectively concealing this creaky old OS. We do enjoy using TouchWiz though, which runs smoothly rather than bogging everything down. Some neat little tweaks, such as the easy-access power settings in the notifications bar, make it easy to configure the Galaxy Ace 2 just how you want it. You also get an impressive selection of widgets to populate the seven desktops with.
At 3.8-inches, the touchscreen is a smidgen larger than most rival budget phones, making the virtual keyboard less of a pain to tap on. Throw in the smart auto-correct and word prediction, and you’ll be bashing out massive texts and emails in no time at all. The touchscreen is responsive, perfect for skimming and zooming through websites, and the sharp 480 x 800 pixel resolution means you can read great reams of text even when you’re zoomed right out. HD movies understandably look a little rough around the edges, but are perfectly watchable.
The Galaxy Ace 2 costs half as much as Samsung’s big flagship smartphones, and it’s evident when you get the Ace 2 in your hands. The sleek curves and slimline body of the Galaxy S III et al have been replaced with a bland, slightly chunky design, complete with plastic rear. Of course, comparing to more expensive phones is unfair and the Ace 2 certainly fits in with its budget buddies, such as the ZTE Grand X and Sony Xperia Go.
It’s solidly built, with a physical Home button and touch-sensitive buttons for Menu and Back located just beneath the screen (which light up when the phone is in use, an invaluable feature when you’re playing around in the dark).The power and volume buttons are easy to find with your fingers and thumbs on the edges. You can snap the back off to access the SIM card slot and battery, while the Micro SD slot (for expanding the phone’s storage) is hidden beneath a flap on the left hand side.
The fact that you can get dual-core processors in sub-£200 phones these days shows how fast mobile tech is moving on. The Galaxy Ace 2’s dual-core chip may run at a paltry 800MHz, but this still proves more than a match for apps, media and even games, which ran without so much as a stutter. The Galaxy Ace 2 survives a full day of moderate use with most settings enabled, and can cope with seven hours of media streaming via apps such as YouTube before the battery fully drains.
Photo fans will be pleased to hear that a capable five-megapixel camera is also on board. Usually a decent quality lens is one of the first things to be sacrificed in budget mobiles, a real shame considering it’s one of the most important features that people look for in a new smartphone. The Galaxy Ace 2’s camera features an LED flash and auto-focus, which locks onto your subject for a crisp capture. Unfortunately, it takes a little while to get a perfect lock, so the Galaxy Ace 2 isn’t too hot for action shots, but for standard stills and posed shots it’s a winner.
Our outdoor snaps are surprisingly detailed when viewed on a TV. Occasionally bright skies result in a soft overall look, but colours come through strong. Night shots are typically grainy but the flash really helps out, and does a good job of not overexposing people when you get a bit too close. Open up the camera menu and you’ve got a good selection of features to play with. You can snap panoramas with funky results, and also record video – again, it’s perfectly watchable when played back on a TV, although recording in noisy environments results in a lot of sound distortion.
You get 4GB of storage space, not much if you’re carrying around your music collection, but the microSD slot gives you flexibility here.
Samsung’s Galaxy Ace 2 packs a lot of value considering its low asking price. The dual-core processor can ably handle apps and games, the larger-than-standard 3.8-inch touch-screen is great for texting, emailing and browsing the web, and the five-megapixel camera is a strong budget offering.