Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 review: Specs, features and analysis

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Nice screen
  • A comfortable size for hand and pocket

Cons

  • Android 2.3
  • Bland design
  • Tinny sound through speakers

Samsung is one of the dominant forces at the top end of the smartphone market with its superb Galaxy S III, but the company has proved before that it also knows how to do things well at the mid-range, and that’s where the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is positioned.

This is a follow-up to an earlier handset – no prizes for guessing its name, and at around £220 SIM-free it joins a crowded segment of the smartphone market.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 review

It has to be said that Samsung has not exercised itself too much in the design of this phone. Seen one, seen 'em all is the first thing that sprung to mind when I looked at it for the first time. Black chassis, rounded corners, Samsung’s characteristic single central physical home button beneath the screen - it’s all very much the norm and you might even go so far as to think it bland.

Left and right of that physical Home button are touch buttons for menu and back functions. These get back lit when you tap the screen or put your finger on them, and the rest of the time they are visible in good light but not obtrusive.

The backplate is stippled to assist with grip. It’s made from quite thin and flexible plastic, and you need to take a little care with it. If you are too ham-fisted it could snap in two when you remove it. The small camera lens and smaller flash are on the back of the chassis, and there’s a tiny speaker grille through which the rather tinny output from the music player comes.

Going back to the handset design, I rather like that the microSD card slot is on the edge – the left edge to be precise – and that it’s protected by a little hinged cover. It's a lot easier to get to here than when it’s under the backplate, and I do like hotswapping cards to change my music set regularly. I don’t think the cover actually has to say ‘microSD’, and this rather spoils the generally clean handset look, but it’s a minor thing.

The main power button is located on the right edge of the chassis, volume rocker on the left, micro USB on the bottom, headset slot on the top. In short, everything is ergonomically positioned, and while the build might not be visually appealing, apart from that flimsy backplate, it is pretty robust.

Phone manufacturers seem to have finally got the message that one area you don’t compromise on when making a phone to a tight budget is the screen. With 800 x 480 pixels spread across a 3.8in TFT LCD, the screen here doesn’t break any records but it is sharp and bright enough and I found it perfectly comfortable to use. In these days of giant screens, 3.8 inches is probably the minimum size that makes for a good all-round handset.

If you have small hands, then the size of the screen has another point in its favour – you may be able to reach across it for one-handed use.

It is a pity that the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 only manages to run Android 2.3, and for those new to Android the apps range might appear confusing with multiple offerings, which in some cases overlap each other in terms of what they offer. I find Samsung’s use of ‘hubs’ for music, social, and games over the top too. On the other hand, it is always nice to see an FM radio and DLNA support and there’s a fun photo editor and Polaris Office in the mix.

I do have a major problem with the on board storage. There’s 4GB built in but after a hard reset my review phone had just over 1GB free. You are going to need a microSD card pretty quickly.

The 1,500mAh battery absolutely dominates the inside of the phone, and if you're an average user in terms of the demands you place on your handset then it may well provide a day’s worth of power. You will need to charge this phone during any 24-hour period, but it performs a bit better than some of its rivals.

In the end the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is a phone with clear ups and downs. The screen is great, output through headphones is very good, and this is a nicely sized phone for one-handed use.

However, the Andrioid version is behind the times, there isn’t enough on board memory, Samsung could do with ditching its hubs and the camera lacks oomph. If you’re looking for a phone at around this price then take a look, too, at the ZTE Grand X and Orange San Diego as possible alternatives.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is a pretty good budget buy handset. Like all budget mobiles it has its ups and downs, but the good screen and capable processor give it a lift. If your budget hovers around £200 it should have a place on your shortlist.

Manufacturer and model

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2

Network

GSM 850/900/1800/1900

HSDPA 900/2100

Processor

800MHz dual-core

Memory

4GB

Memory expansion

microSD

Display

3.8in, 800 x 480 pixels

Main camera

5-megapixel

Front camera

VGA

Wi-Fi

Yes

GPS

Yes

FM radio

Yes

Battery

1,500mAh

Size

118.3 x 62.3 x 10.5mm

Weight

118.5g

OS

Android 2.3