The phone fairies have smiled on us once again, this time arranging for us to spend a bit of time with the new mid-range Samsung Galaxy Ace Android phone, courtesy of UK network Three.
As we’ve previously mentioned , the Samsung Galaxy Ace features an 800MHz processor, runs Android 2.2 and features a surprisingly large 3.5″ capacitive touchscreen. It really ought to be quite good.
The Ace is available on PAYG for around £199 at the likes of Three UK and appears on contracts from about £25. This puts it SLAP BANG into competition with the very similar LG Optimus One , which is also fighting for Android money in the sub-£200 “choosy mainstream” category.
The hardware is very, very nice indeed for a phone at this cheaper end of the market. It’s reminiscent of the Samsung Galaxy S, as you might expect, featuring a smooth black face with capacitive Menu and Back buttons to either side of the squared Home key.
There’s a proximity sensor, which is something you don’t always expect to see in cheaper models, plus the edge of the Galaxy Ace is a silvery/grey metallic surround, complete with sliding door USB cover.
Yes, a sliding door USB cover. How very posh. It’s a little unusual and slightly annoying that the USB connector is on the top of the phone, as we find it a bit easier to use things while connected when the cable is hanging out of the bottom. But that might just be us.
The back of the phone is also much nicer than most Samsung efforts. It’s still its trademark black plastic, only given a nice, textured, rubber effect that makes it grippy and actually pretty stylish. We also got a smooth white replacement cover in the box – but that may be a Three UK exclusive thing. Check with your supplier if that’s a deal-breaker for you.
Overall, this is one mid-range phone that’s seriously impressive in the hand and could easily hold its own when placed on a pub table next to handsets that cost twice as much money.
The user interface is Android 2.2 given a mild and inoffensive skinning by Samsung. The main addition is a dock that’s permanently along the bottom of the screen, giving you quick access to the Dialer, your contacts, text messages and the application list.
There’s the ability to specify the number of Home screens you’d like, so if you struggle to think of things to do on more than three it relieves some of the pressure.
This Galaxy Ace was supplied to us via UK network Three, which has taken it easy on the “bloatware” that fills some phones. You get a Three wallpaper and two icons – both simple web links to Three’s web site. All easily removed should they offend. Live wallpapers are supported.
The phone comes with a widget displaying how many tasks you have running at any time, which opens up a Task Manager. A sign that Samsung’s a bit worried it’s not put enough RAM in the phone?
Might need to be a bit careful with your installations.
Samsung doesn’t supply much in the way of pre-loaded apps. You get Samsung’s AllShare tool, which is a sort of DLNA clone for streaming media between devices – but it wouldn’t work for us. No idea why. Probably need to spend hours downloading things. Can’t be bothered with all that.
You also get ThinkFree Office on here, Samsung’s Social Hub messaging and Twitter/Facebook/etc aggregator, plus a version of Tetris that needs to be verified via a Three UK mobile connection.
Anyway, that’s enough for now. We’ll spend a bit more time with it, then come back tomorrow with some media, web and app performance opinions. And some camera samples. Camera samples are always the most enjoyable part of a phone review.