Product Type: Samsung Smartphone
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This Phone is Ace!
Samsung Galaxy Ace
Member Name: rosebud2001
Samsung Galaxy Ace
Advantages: Versatile phone offering a responsive screen, excellent sound quality, good internet browsing
Disadvantages: Battery life, clunky Kies software
My daughter rarely uses her phone to make calls, preferring to text or surf the web with it. It therefore made sense to get her a 3G phone so internet surfing was easier. There were other issues with the Jet, including a touchscreen which was notoriously non-responsive and a memory card slot which wasn't particularly reliable, constantly knocking the card out of place.
Last year I got a Samsung Galaxy S which I have to say I absolutely love. There was no way I was going to get such an expensive phone for my daughter however as any phone she has is bought outright for her. After a little research I decided to stick with Samsung and its Galaxy range, opting for the Ace which shares some of the Galaxy S features.
I bought the phone from the Carphone Warehouse website in May of this year, paying £217 for the phone. This was the best price I could find for it anywhere as I wanted to get an unlocked phone which I could use on any network. My daughter uses Pay as You Go top ups for her phone and isn't particularly loyal to any network, having in the past asked for an Orange SIM card purely to take advantage of the Monkey music service. She currently has a Vodafone SIM deal and tops up £10 per month and rarely uses even half of that amount in calls in the course of the month.
The phone comes in a small box and is easy to set up. Samsung provide a charger, a USB lead to connect to the computer, battery, 2GB micro SD card and two back plastic fascia covers - one in black and one in white. When I said how nice the black one would look my daughter, in true teenage fashion, opted for the white one.
The phone operates on the Android system but much to my daughter's dismay, when we got the phone it only worked on the older Froyo version of Android. We have recently been able to upgrade the phone to the newer Gingerbread version of Android however.
Setting up is very easy - there is a power switch at the top right hand side of the phone which you press to turn the phone on and off. This switch also "awakens" the phone when it goes into sleep mode.
The phone has very little internal memory - only 158 MB so if you want to play music or use the camera you will need some extra storage. We found the 2GB micro SD card provided to be too small so I bought a 16GB card to expand the memory. The phone supports micro SD cards up to 32GB. I should stress my daughter uses her phone to play a lot of music but if you only need storage for photos or videos the 2GB card should suffice.
The slot for the micro SD card is far better than that on the Jet - or the Samsung Galaxy S for that matter. The slot is on the right hand side of the phone just under the on/off button and you merely push the card in and close the cover. This is much easier to access than on my Galaxy S and it's much better for a ham fisted teenager who regularly takes the micro SD card out to add music from her computer. To remove the card you simply open the slot, push the top of the card and it will pop up for removal.
The only other buttons on the phone are a home key on the bottom centre of the phone and the volume up and down switches at the left hand side of the phone. Every other function is performed using the touch screen.
~~Features and Opinion~~
***Calling & Texting***
This is first and foremost a phone and it's very straightforward to use to make calls. When the phone rings you answer by touching the green button that will appear on the screen and swiping it towards the right hand side. If you want to decline a call you swipe the red button on the screen towards the left.
To make a call there is a green phone icon on the bottom of the home screen. Tap this and you have several options to make dialling easy including icons for a keypad, call log, contacts and favourites. If the number you wish to dial is stored in your contacts or favourites list you just scroll down to find it and tap "call number" or hit the button saying "message" to send a text. The number keys on the keypad for dialling a number are large and easy to hit without straying into the wrong number in error.
Sound quality is good when making calls and I have been impressed with the sound clarity on the Ace in comparison to my Galaxy S - it's definitely better on the stripped down Galaxy.
Texting is equally easy although I find it easier to use the onscreen qwerty keyboard if auto rotate is activated, enabling me to use the keyboard in landscape mode because this makes the keys larger. Predictive text is as good as on the Galaxy S picking up words quickly and easily but also enabling you to type in a word it doesn't recognise without instantly defaulting to something else.
There is a good selection of ringtones available and if you add music to your phone you can use that as a call ringtone. Unfortunately you can't customise text tones the same way and have to use one of the selection already included on the phone when you get it.
There is a 5MP camera included with the Ace, and unlike the Galaxy S, it also has a flash. The camera can be used for photos or for videos, shooting HD video with sound.
I've been impressed with the quality of the pictures and the ease of use. You can use the volume buttons when the phone is in camera mode to zoom in on your subject. When you have taken a picture you can easily share it via Facebook, Twitter or text by simply tapping on the Share icon on the screen, and this is a feature I have used several times for my daughter.
Videos shot on the camera have been impressive with the microphone picking up sound well and picture quality generally very good.
You can use a 3G connection or wifi to access the internet using the Galaxy Ace. My daughter has a monthly top up which includes 500 MB of data so she only uses the 3G internet when she's not at home.
Internet access on 3G does vary depending on how good your connection to the network is. I have used the Ace on 3G and found it to be just as good as my Galaxy S and I have found at times the Ace picks up a better connection than my phone even when we are using our phones in the same place.
My daughter uses an Android App I downloaded for her on her phone called APN Droid which gives you a quick and easy way of turning 3G access on and off. This is pretty important as internet use drains the battery on the Ace significantly whether on 3G or wifi. It goes without saying that if you don't need to have the wifi switched on then you should switch it off to save battery life.
Because the phone operates on the Android operating system you can download apps to make internet browsing easier. These are easily accessed via an inbuilt "Market" app that will enable you to find apps for internet sites, games and other features. The Android app Marketplace is adding new apps all the time and the apps my daughter and I consider to be essential are, for the most part, free of charge. The phone will inform you automatically of any updates required to the apps so it's a one touch process to do this.
Because of the way my daughter uses her phone it needs to be charged every night, such is her love of the internet.
On the rare occasions she hasn't been browsing the net and has had both the wifi and the 3G switched off - the battery lasts far longer. I noticed when I upgraded the Android software on my Galaxy S that the battery life improved somewhat when all internet connections were switched off and I have found this to be the case on the Ace. If you have the phone on and are using it for a few calls and texts during the course of a day the battery can easily last for about three days before it needs charging up again.
Of course other features such as the camera and the music player also drain the battery, and my music loving daughter rarely goes a day without listening to some music on here. If you plan on surfing the web and listening to music I would say you would definitely need to charge this up on a daily basis.
It's also worth noting that if you lower the screen brightness level on the Ace, that will also help extend battery life.
The music player on the Galaxy Ace is straightforward and easy to use. You can organise music in folders for albums or artists and also include artwork if you so desire.
You can add music directly to the phone as unlike an iPod, when you connect the Galaxy Ace to your computer via the USB lead provided your computer will recognise the hard drive on it and allow you to transfer songs by copying and pasting files over. The process is quick and straightforward.
You can also use the Samsung Kies software to do this but I find it much easier to just copy and paste and quicker too.
If you play music through the loudspeakers on the phone the sound quality is rather lame - it's tinny and unpleasant. Through headphones is a different matter however - the sound quality is excellent with rich tones and it's just as good as an iPod in my opinion.
The phone also has a built in FM radio which isn't brilliant. You can only listen to the radio through headphones but unlike previous Samsung mobiles any headset will pick up the FM signal. Obviously sound quality varies from channel to channel depending on the signal and this will also depend on where you are at the time.
As previously mentioned, Samsung's main software is called Kies and I must admit I really am not a fan. My daughter has struggled terribly with it in the past and I haven't fared much better with it.
When I originally bought the phone I installed the software on my daughter's laptop and connected the phone without much in the way of a problem but whenever my daughter tried to use it to see if her much sought after upgrade to Gingerbread was available she would struggle to get Kies to recognise her phone.
In several attempts to solve this I have found myself having to uninstall and reinstall the software but I have found the problem seems to be mainly with the drivers Samsung issue - some upgrades render the device unrecognisable by Kies rendering the whole thing useless.
The software can be used to transfer files to and from the phone but my daughter and I only use it to save a copy of the phone numbers stored on the phone and on the SIM and to check for updates to the system. It's unfortunate you don't get notifications from Samsung via your phone to say there are updates available - certainly for Android updates anyway because Kies really is a clunky, unfriendly and unstable software system.
The Galaxy Ace doesn't look as sexy as it's big sister the Galaxy S - certainly it's not as slim, measuring 112.4 x 59.9 x 11.5 mm. The screen is also noticeably smaller on the Ace in comparison to the Galaxy S, measuring 3.5 inches compared to the 4 inch screen on its big sister.
It does however pack a fair punch and I have to say if it looked just a tad sleeker I'd be tempted to go for this phone myself as the features the Galaxy S has that the Ace lacks are generally pretty minor although there's no denying the large internal hard drive on the Galaxy S is probably the main reason it costs so much more than the stripped down Ace, although no doubt the sleek look of the Galaxy S adds to the price tag.
For the price however I am delighted with this phone and so is my daughter. It makes calling easy on a touchscreen which responds brilliantly to touch which is a massive improvement on the Jet which would frequently find me tapping an icon repeatedly before it would do anything. There are no such issues with the Galaxy Ace and while it's not the cheapest 3G phone on the market it's fairly affordable especially when you consider the features it has to offer.
Summary: The Galaxy Ace is no ugly sister to the Galaxy S - just a little dowdier
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