Product Type: Samsung Smartphone
Newest Review: ... onto it, its a really good buy. was sceptical at first, as it's my first ever smart phone, but am pleased with the overall design and capa... more
A truly ace smartphone (and it's purple!)
Samsung Galaxy Ace GT-S5830
Member Name: AbsintheFairy
Samsung Galaxy Ace GT-S5830
Advantages: Purple, attractive, easy to use, reliable, Android operating system
Disadvantages: Contacts feature, Samsung Kies software, low memory, phone is sometimes slow
This phone strongly appealed to me for two reasons. Firstly, it came in purple - I love the colour purple, and was excited about the possibility of having a purple smartphone instead of a boring black one. Secondly, I had read good reviews of this phone and the Samsung brand: my mam has a Samsung phone and speaks highly of it, so I felt that this would be a good choice.
The phone isn't available on all networks, but luckily it was available on O2. I wanted to stay with them as my experience with them had been positive, so I purchased the phone in my local O2 store for £150 (though I got a £20 Amazon voucher with my purchase so it really cost £130). This isn't a review of O2 so I won't talk about them too much, other than to say I'm happy with them and haven't experienced any problems. When I transferred my number from Orange to O2 on buying my previous phone, the process was simple and straightforward and my Pay & Go tariff is good value. £15 is taken off my balance every month to pay for unlimited texts & web (which in practice isn't actually unlimited but it's enough for me) as well as 100 minutes. In addition, the O2 Priority Moments programme gives special offers on restaurants, Odeon cinemas and assorted other deals.
***What's in the box?***
I thought the box for my last phone was compact, but that was huge compared to this one, which was tiny. I think companies are taking packing lessons from Apple! Inside the box there was the phone itself with a spare (black) back, a battery, SIM card, 2 GB microSD card, charger and set of headphones. These headphones connect to the normal headphone jack which means you can use them with other media players too. I haven't used the spare back or SIM (as I used the card from my previous phone), and I already had a 16GB microSD card which I used in place of the 2GB one supplied. As with all phones you need to set the phone up by inserting the SIM card and battery, charging the battery, then changing your language, messaging and date settings the first time you switch on your phone. I won't go into details as you can simply read the instruction leaflet. There are actually two instruction leaflets included with this product: a 'Quick Start' guide and a more general guide, as well as a leaflet about the battery performance, a statement of legal and technical information, and an 'Important Information' leaflet including support information and guidelines for safe and efficient use.
***Appearance and Feel of the Phone***
This really is a lovely phone: it is simply designed, rectangular in shape with a black front, large touchscreen and shiny purple back and sides. The shiny surface does attract fingerprints, so I give it a wipe regularly. The phone is slim and light and in many ways resembles an iPhone. This is handy in one respect as it means you can take advantage of the large number of iPhone cases available. I bought a leather one from Paperchase and it fits my Samsung phone perfectly.
The phone is larger than my previous one, though it is still smaller than more high-end, multi-functional phones. Despite the small size, it appears sturdy and well made, and though I have had it over a year there are no obvious scratches or other signs of damage (though this may be because I take good care of my phone and always keep it in its leather case).
I did like the slide-out keyboard on my Sony phone, but it didn't take me too long to get used to using the touchscreen exclusively. Turning the phone to the side makes the keyboard bigger as the screen rotates, so I tend to do this for longer messages. I do still occasionally type the wrong thing which can be frustrating, but if I slow down and type more steadily this normally controls the issue. My problem is that I am very impatient!
The phone is an Android phone (Gingerbread 2.3 operating system) which is one of the main reasons I chose it. I had no desire to get an iPhone and tie myself to Apple, but I really liked the Android system on my last phone, and after Apple most apps seem to be available for Android. Also, I have a Google account and the Android system offers the best functionality when it comes to synchronising my account (not surprising, as Android is a Google system!). I certainly want to stick to Android phones in the future.
The range of apps available for the Android market is extensive and I have some really handy apps: Evernote for making and uploading notes, Dropbox for reading and uploading photos and documents (Evernote and Dropbox sync to your computer too which is really handy - Google them to find out more), English Heritage for looking up places to visit, and the Amazon Kindle app for downloading and reading ebooks. The phone also comes with Google Calendar as standard which is very handy for checking appointments. Again it also syncs with your online Google Calendar. Sadly I haven't been able to download as many apps as I'd like as the internal memory isn't huge: 150MB, which is better than my last phone but not much. You really need a high-end smartphone to truly make the most of apps.
The Internet speed is generally good, though naturally it is faster on wireless than 3G. In fairness it's hard to tell sometimes whether any problem with slowness is down to the phone itself or the wireless provider/phone company internet, but the speed is certainly better than my old phone!
Some of the features included with the phone include a Notes section for writing simple notes, a calculator, an FM radio and a music player. The player is easy to use as all you have to do is drag and drop files into your phone while it is connected to the computer. However I rarely use it as I have a separate music player. At full volume the phone produces a reasonable enough sound, but as the player is a basic one (you can't create playlists for example), I prefer to use a specialist player designed for music.
The phone comes with a 5 megapixel camera, with the ability to take photographs with and without flash and with a number of modes: None, Portrait, Landscape, Night, Sports, Party/Indoor and more, though there is no zoom feature. I find that the photographs are of a very high quality, and I normally use my phone to take photographs except when I go on holiday or there is a special occasion, when I will use my digital camera. There is also a video-recording function, which I have used a couple of times.
There is an alarm clock included with the phone, and unlike my old phone, this is loud enough to wake me up. This is handy as my old alarm clock died and I now rely on my phone to get me up in the morning. There is a handy feature allowing you to set different alarms: one Mon-Fri (for work), one Sat-Sun (for shopping or fun times) and one for any particular day.
There is a Backup and Restore feature on the phone which allows you to back up your data. There is also a Settings section which allows you to change various settings on the phone including the date & time, language and voicemail message.
As the phone is a Samsung one, you are supposed to install the Samsung Kies software to back up information from your phone onto your computer. However, I found this software so clunky and irritating to use that I soon dispensed with it altogether and used normal Windows folders to drag and drop, copy and paste any relevant documents or files.
***Calling and Texting***
I suppose I should spend some time looking at these features, after all they are the reason phones were invented in the first place! I have experienced no issues with making or receiving calls using this phone. It is easy to use and I find it easy to hear the caller on the other end of the line. Like the majority of phones, this handset keeps a record of previous and missed calls which can be handy to refer to. With texting, again I have experienced no issues, though I would like to point out that texts from any one contact are automatically kept together in one conversational 'thread'. This was true of my previous Sony smartphone too, but not of my phones prior to that.
One thing I do miss from my previous phone was the design of the contacts list. The Sony Ericsson phone was very clever, as it linked together contacts from your telephone, Facebook, Twitter and email accounts that it could tell were the same person. This meant that their Facebook or Twitter profile picture was displayed alongside their telephone number, as well as their latest status update. This Samsung phone doesn't have that feature and my Contacts list is a very boring list of phone numbers without pictures. This doesn't affect the phone's functionality, but it is a bit of a shame.
The battery life varies depending on how much you use the phone. If I hardly use it, it lasts a couple of days but if I use the Internet and other features regularly it can last a day or even only just over half a day. I normally take my charger to work so I can top up the phone battery if I'm going out in the evening. I don't think that this battery life is very impressive - I remember the days when you could charge your phone once a week - but my understanding of smartphones is that they do need charging much more regularly than ordinary phones, so I'm not sure whether this is anything out of the ordinary. The battery life of this phone is marginally better than that of my previous smartphone, but not by a great deal.
I really do love this phone and it has been a worthwhile purchase. It is attractive, easy to use and reliable with lots of useful features. However, I have experienced a few niggles with it: the Contacts feature has a disappointing level of functionality, the Samsung Kies software is useless and the memory is too small to store all the apps I'd like. Also, the phone can be a bit slow at times, which is somewhat irritating. However, I think that for the price I paid, the phone is a good one. A smartphone with more space and a faster speed would probably cost at least twice as much.
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Purple is currently available from the O2 website at a cost of £99.99 (free on Pay Monthly), as is a black version of the same phone. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a smartphone but who isn't able or willing to sign up to a lengthy contract or fork out hundreds of pounds for a top-level gadget.
Summary: A good value smartphone