Indeed, the Galaxy Ace 2 has all it takes to succeed as a budget phone, with a 3.8" PLS screen (800 x 480 pixels), a 5-Megapixel camera, an NFC chip (Near Field Communication) and Android 2.3 (soon to be upgraded to Android 4.0) adorned with a lighter and less power-hungry version of Samsung's TouchWiz interface.
This basic smartphone is aimed at contract users looking for a free or very low cost handset, or at anyone looking for a relatively affordable SIM-free mobile with enough power for mixed use, including some gaming and web browsing.
Design & Handling
The Galaxy Ace 2 has a similar design to the Galaxy S3 but is closer in size to the original Ace. It's a handset that has evolved in line with the market but without really bringing any innovation to the table. So Samsung has kept things simple by recycling the design and high-quality plastic finish of its high-end mobile—the Galaxy S3—a phone that's already clocked up 10 million unit sales worldwide. That's certainly a safe bet, but sometimes it pays to take a risk.
The LCD screen in the Ace 2 is a big improvement on its predecessor, and thankfully so. The 3.8" display has a contrast ratio of 720:1, which is good, even if it's nothing out of the ordinary. Although the colours are slightly too red, colour fidelity isn't bad for a smartphone screen. We measured the Delta E (colour fidelity) at 5.5, when this should be under three for truly accurate colours. All in all, the display is a pretty easy on the eyes. That said, viewing angles offer the bare minimum, as they're not especially wide. But, in terms of touchscreens, the Ace 2 really isn't too far behind higher-end smartphones.
Interface & Navigation
Samsung's TouchWiz interface finally seems to have settled into cruise control. The lighter, more breezy feeling to the interface we noticed in the Galaxy S3 is again apparent in the Ace 2. The interface is less power-hungry and more fluid, keeping the menus smooth and seamless at all times. On top of all the usual options found in Google's OS (Android 2.3 Gingerbread for the moment), you'll find Samsung's standard set of TouchWiz extras, such as the Social Hub that groups together info from various social networks, a smattering of Samsung widgets and the MusicHub and GameHub stores.
Although web browsing isn't as nice as on a bigger screen, the Ace 2 still does a decent job, with good general responsiveness and an accurate zoom function. Samsung has also put right one of the major flaws in the original Ace, as boosted Wi-Fi performances make pages and online content much quicker to load. If you really want to nit-pick, then the gyroscope is a little on the slow side when you switch to surfing in landscape mode—it takes a few tenths of a second to flip the display.
For 3D games, this phone can run heavyweight titles like Shadowgun with a few slow-downs and a lower lever of graphics detail. But to install games like that, you'll need to use the microSD card slot (up to 32 GB), as the Ace 2 only has a 4 GB internal memory.
Galaxy Ace owners should feel at home with the camera in the Ace 2, as Samsung has used the same 5-Megapixel sensor as seen in its 2011 product range. The overall result is therefore pretty much identical. Picture quality is OK, and the white balance is decent. That said, you'd still be advised to shoot in good light conditions for the best results. The flash should really only be used as a last resort. Note that the Ace 2 now also records 720p HD video.
Even with frequent, day-to-day use, the Galaxy Ace 2 is, like its predecessor, a pretty long-lasting mobile. Unlike the big, battery guzzling smartphones on the market right now that barely make it through the day, this Samsung entry-level phone can breeze past the 24-hour mark. The 1,500 mAh battery can really keep this phone going for the long-run if you're only using it for basic phone-type activities—even with the Wi-Fi switched on.
- A worthy successor for the Galaxy Ace
- TouchWiz interface is more responsive than the previous version
- Good screen
- Good battery life
- Camera hasn't been updated
- Design copied straight from the Galaxy S3
The Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 may not be a surprising or innovative phone but it does its job well. In fact, it's one of the best entry-level smartphones out there. Samsung has taken good ideas from its various product ranges to build an improved budget smartphone (apart from the camera) that takes the original Ace forwards. This updated model will no doubt please users looking for an inexpensive smartphone with good performances and a great battery life.