Available on Three for no upfront cost and a £30 contract with ‘all-you-can-eat’ data or £199 on Pay As You Go, the Samsung Galaxy Ace is a stylish, impressive looking smartphone running the Froyo version of Google’s Android operating system.
On the Android platform itself I can’t really add anything to my remarks in the recent HTC Wildfire review, all the pluses and minuses – including the inconsistent ability to access Flash – are present here.
Sitting on top of Android is Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface which customises the default look of Android and helps differentiate the look of the phone from the legions of other handsets also running Android.
Looking fairly similar to an iPhone 4, the Ace has a single ‘home’ button on the front of the device (power and volume buttons are location on the sides) with two touch ‘buttons’ for menus and back navigation, both of which respond instantly to the user’s touch.
While the two touch buttons add a touch of class to the handset, the home button feels like it pushes in almost the entire depth of the device resulting in a slightly ‘cheap & cheerful’ feel.
As with all smartphones the biggest feature on the front face is the screen, in this case a 16m colour, 3.5″ screen with a resolution of 320 x 480. While the resolution is less than an iPhone 4 or HTC Incredible S will give, it’s more than enough for some light browsing, emails and texting.
As well as the built-in 3G connection, the Ace also supports WiFi so you can connect it to your home or office network of take advantage of free WiFi hotspots.
The 5megapixel camera is complemented by a flash so you can take pictures in less well lit situations – no phone is ever really a substitute for a dedicated camera but the one here captures reasonable images.
As is also fairly standard, you can also shoot your own videos which can be uploaded instantly to YouTube to share with friends and family.
The most important thing about a phone, even a smartphone, is the ability to voice calls. Whereas even a few years ago call quality varied enormously between handsets, today it’s not really an issue outside some of the very low end Pay As You Go handsets networks give away to the ultra unfussy.
In this respect the Ace is no different from ever other smartphone – call quality in good reception areas is as good as you’d like it to be, in areas with poorer reception it was possible to experience the odd bit of drop out. As I said above, this is pretty much what you’d expect from any handset.
Inside the box is a fairly minimal, good-looking charger, a USB cable so you can connect the phone to your home computer, a 2GB microSD memory card for you music, pictures and films plus an adapter to allow you to pop the card into a computer or card reader which supports the full-size SD card.
There’s also a pair of those nasty, el cheap headphones which no-one ever uses and a spare back panel in case you want to change the look of your phone.
While it’s true that power users won’t find much to excite them with this handset, the majority of buyers will find it more than suitable for their needs.