Thursday, March 17, 2011

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830

When we first reported the launch of the Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 in February, many of you readers were impressed with the seemingly high-mid range specifications, all within a Rs. 15,000/- price point. Some of our friends on twitter even thanked us for the review. Sad to say, that wasn’t our review. This is our full review of the phone, after having spent enough time with it to qualitatively assess its qualities, features and performance. When we started reviewing it, we were all gung-ho about that Adreno 200 GPU. After we completed the review, however - wait a minute. We won’t spoil the fun for you - our full review awaits just a click of that “Read more” button below.

Hardware - Look and feel

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830, rear

As you can guess from our photos, the rear of the Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 is not a smooth, glossy black finish like the Galaxy S range of phones. It has a diamond-shaped, roughish pattern. Let’s just say that this rough back cover feels excellent to touch. It’s the kind that would make you run your fingers across the back every now and then - just because it feels that nice. The box also contains a glossy white back cover (we were unable to take photos of this, or the provided pouch) which should suffice, if you’re the kind of person who prefers pearly white gloss to rough diamond black. All-round photos of the phone are below.

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 front hardware 01 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 front hardware 02 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 front hardware 03 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 front hardware 04 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 front hardware 05 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 front hardware 06 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 front hardware 07Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 front hardware 08 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 front hardware 09 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 back hardware 01 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 back hardware 02 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 back hardware 03

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Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830, front

The next thing that hits you (atleast, which hit us) is that this is a large-ish phone. After holding so many Android phones with 3.0-3.2 inch displays, this phone is quite a handful. We’re not comparing it’s size to high-end phones such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, the Samsung Galaxy S or the Motorola Milestone XT720 since this is a HVGA (320x480) resolution device, unlike those high-end phones. We did expect to see the UI quite jagged and pixelated due to the low pixel density compared to the other mid-range Android phones, but we were pleasantly happy to find out that it was mostly a non-issue (more on that in the Display section). We’ve included photos of the packaged contents below (without the white back cover).

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 box contents 01 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 box contents 02 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 box contents 03 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 box contents 04 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 box contents 05 Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 box contents 06

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Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830, with case

The phone feels like a “slab” of material in your hands, much like the iPhone 4 (although this is much lighter than the iPhone 4). There is leather-ish dull yellow case provided with the phone. This has a good texture and feel to it, but it fits a little too tightly, and requires you to push the phone into the case for the last bit to go in. You may not want to do that every time you need to pull your phone out. Like most Samsung cases we’ve seen, this one has a rectangular cutout for the speaker, so that you can listen to music (or incoming calls) when the phone is in the case. More than a few people were bewildered on how to insert the phone into the case, because the immediate assumption for the rectangular cutout is that it should fit over the camera lens (which is on the other side, opposite to the speaker). If you really think about it though, it doesn’t make sense to have a cutout for the camera when the phone has been inserted into the case. Overall, we’re quite happy that Samsung doesn’t seem to have skimped on the quality of the components used for this phone. When we say high-mid range phone, it does feel and look like a high-mid range phone. That’s always a good thing. (More photos of the phone in it’s slipcase are below)

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Software - TouchWiz-ified Android 2.2

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - TouchWiz App Drawer

The Samsung TouchWiz User Interface is reminiscent of their first-generation touchscreen feature phones - the Samsung Star series. The User Interface is slightly cartoonish, and after using Google’s standard Gingerbread build with its polished icons, the TouchWiz interface looks to be lacking. We can’t really be firm though, because we at The Indian Geek are divided over the TouchWiz UI. Some like it; others don’t. For the most part, if you are new to smartphones, you may not realise it too much at all. The biggest change (if you’re coming from another Android phone) would be that the first screen is the main homescreen, unlike most Android builds that make the center homescreen as the main homescreen. This takes a bit to get used to. Check out our short video below, of the basic feel of the TouchWiz UI.

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Settings, adding accounts   Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Settings, App Management

Once you get past the base UI, all the trappings of Android 2.2 are here - including that oh-so-useful Mobile Hotspot functionality. Samsung has added a few useful items such as a Task Killer, which helps in managing the RAM. This is something that all Android phones need, and having a tool built-in beats the necessity to download the Advanced Task Killer from the Android Market. Samsung has worked over most of the UI elements and functions, but you would not realise that unless you are coming from a non-TouchWizzed phone. Coming from other Android phones that handle both the Contacts and the Phone as one Dialer app, we found Samsung’s implementation of two separate instances – which interlinked with each other – slightly complicated. Again, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, if this is your first Android phone, or if you are upgrading from another Samsung phone. Overall, the experience left nothing much to be desired. We would certainly prefer the UI to be less heavily customized, but that’s our personal liking and preference.

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Phone App  Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Contacts App

Display and Performance

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830, display

The display that Samsung uses in this phone seems to be top-notch, as the brightness and contrast levels seem much higher than other phones in this price segment. It is definitely better than your average HVGA Android phone. The only gripe that we have, is with pixel density - as noted in our Hardware section above, the display looks slightly pixelated at times. This does not happen in the TouchWiz UI; it happens in a few third-party Apps, and while browsing certain websites. If you freak out on good mobile phone displays, and if your budget allows for a phone at the Rs. 15,000/- price point - please go ahead and buy this.

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Asphalt 5 error

We definitely take some issue with the performance of the phone. The fact that the phone has an Adreno 200 GPU made us feel like the phone should be flying when compared to the competition in this area. Sadly, it doesn’t. A score of 590 on Quadrant shows you that it’s way higher than other HVGA-based Android phones. And the UI is quite snappy; but we had certain issues with running Asphalt 5. Asphalt 5 showed up in the Market for download, but it refused to open/play. We tried a few times, and then gave up in frustration. We would have certainly liked to take a video of burning rubber in Asphalt 5 on this phone, and then post it for all you guys (and gals) to see the difference that the Adreno 200 GPU makes, but sadly, we were unable to do this. The hardware of this phone is still not capable enough to support Adobe Flash, so don’t expect anything too fancy when you are browsing websites. The phone does perform well in many other instances, as our two videos below would demonstrate.

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - CPU at 800 Mhz

CPU running at 800 Mhz under normal conditions

When it comes to video decoding, we were unable to play even the simplest of 720p MP4 clips, or 480p DIVX clips. We tried this using the built-in video player, and using Rock Player from the Android Market. It simply would not work. We thought - hey, this thing’s got the Adreno 200 GPU - and we figured that switching on hardware decoding would help. The only thing that happened was that Rock Player kept crashing, and our battery life elongated by tonnes of minutes. Weird? Well, not really. Apparently, in attempting to use hardware decoding for videos, Rock Player downclocks the CPU. Yes, we’re talking about an unrooted Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 which had its CPU downclocked by a third-party application on-the-fly. This is something that bewildered us totally; we saw speeds of anywhere from 200-odd Mhz to 480 Mhz. The actual speed of the CPU is a fairly decent 800 Mhz.

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - CPU throttled to 245 Mhz  Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - CPU throttled to 480 Mhz

CPU downclocked to 245 (left) and 480 (right) Mhz

Media and fun - music, videos and camera

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830, camera

This is a Samsung phone, and Samsung is known for making decent cameras for their phones, even if they don’t put the best stuff that Nokia puts out. The 5 MP photographs are really good for a phone in this price range. We tried out some Macro shots as well. You can get good Macro shots too - if you are willing to spend extra time and effort in composing the shots.

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Camera app 04

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Camera app 01

Video recording, however, is entirely another issue. The resolution is QVGA, which is simply quite unacceptable. Any recorded video looks horrible even on the phone’s screen; you can imagine how it would look on a computer, or on YouTube. Definitely not acceptable, especially considering the fact that the phone has a decent 5 MP camera, with a CPU/GPU combination that should be capable of VGA atleast. Our Spice Mi-300, with it’s not-so-great 5 MP camera takes better video than this phone. And that’s saying a lot. So if video recording is important for you, then this would definitely be a deal-breaker.Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Camera app 02

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Camera app 03

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - YouTube Video

We told you in the Performance section up above that video playback was a little difficult on this phone - with respect to different formats and resolutions. Yes, it was not upto the reputation that Samsung phones have come to have. We expected this baby to handle everything but the high-res 1080p clips. However, we found that it could handle only the file formats and resolutions that an average phone such as the Spice Mi-300 could handle.

Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Music app 01  Samsung Galaxy Ace S5830 screenshot - Music app 02

Music playback is pretty flawless - through the loudspeaker, and through the provided headphones. The loudspeaker, as in most Samsung Android phones, is a tiny window at the rear. All it takes is for a small area of your table, bed, chair or pocket to cover it. And the sound emitted goes down to nearly zero. Samsung needs to find a better design and placement for the speaker, if you want to hear the ringtone when a call is received. The provided in-ear earphones are surprisingly comfortable, and a decent fit. Plug them in, and you are in your own music world, with above average music quality. Some folks may not prefer in-ear earphones, in which case you will have to go out and purchase your own earphones for this phone.

Battery life and connectivity

The single most important factor for majority of users upgrading to a smartphone - battery life. We found the phone to be comparable to other phones in its class, with perhaps, slightly better battery life. With moderate usage, we were able to squeeze the phone’s battery to last about a day. If you’re going to be fiddling constantly with 3G, Wi-Fi and processor/graphics-intensive apps, then expect that battery life to drop drastically.

The Wi-Fi and radio connectivity worked fine, without any issues. What we did find issues with, was GPRS/EDGE and 3G connectivity. We don’t know why but this seems to be quite common with many Android phones we’ve used. There’s an Xperia X10, an HTC Tattoo, and even our Spice Mi-300 when it was running Android 1.6 - which experience constant data connectivity issues. None of them have connectivity issues using Wi-Fi, though. This could be a simple, one-off issue for us - and may not occur for all, at all locations. We felt it was worth noting, anyway.

Wrap up

About a month ago, this phone was an amazing buy (and we told you so!). At the cost of Rs. 15,000/- or so, you got a slightly higher-end phone than all the other HVGA Android phones standing around at lower prices. Why do we say “about a month ago”? Because currently, there are two new entrants into the lower-high end Android market segment. The Galaxy S LCD 4 GB and the OliveSmart V-S300 - two phones that cost Rs. 19,000/- and provide decidedly killer high-end features. If you’re on a budget, we’d still ask you to try and stick to the LG Optimus One P500 which is at around Rs. 11,500/- now, or try and rake up enough cash to spring for either the Samsung Galaxy S LCD 4 GB or the OliveSmart V-S300. They are definitely worth the money right now. However, if your budget cannot go a paisa beyond Rs. 15,000/- and you want a little bit of extra oomph in your phone – do go ahead and buy this phone. It is worth the money, as long as you can live with it’s few quirks such as poor video recording quality and Samsung’s TouchWiz UI (which you’ll be blessed with, even if you get the Galaxy S LCD 4GB).


Our thanks to Goutam Joshi for his various contributions to this review.


Nana Lonkay said...

yup i cant install asphat5 either.. but this is a good android phone.. except the battery..

The Indian Geek said...

Thank you for your input, Nana. We are still bewildered by why we could not install Asphalt 5 on the Galaxy Ace. The Market wouldn't list the App if it can't be run on the device, ideally. Our Spice Mi-300 can't see Asphalt in the Market at all.

Battery life is comparable and perhaps slightly better than other Android phones in this class, from our own experience. Guess it depends a whole lot on how the phone is used (or not).

Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. :)

Umang Dhawan said...

 awesome review guys.. i have been researching on android phones within 15k and this one seems to be the best of the lot. There's a few things a wanted to ask 
1. Is the touchWiz UI that bad? Almost all reviews i read quirked about it..
2. Due to budget constraints, i'll be waiting a few months before buying the phone. And as samsung announced that gingerbread upgrade is available for this phone, so i believe i should be getting a pre installed android 2.3 on my phone. right?

Looking forward to your replies. Also, i'd love if you have any more mobile suggestions for me within 15k. 

Rehaan Ahmed said...

you can play asphalt 5 nova 1,2   pes 2011  which are optimized to HVGA Screens i am playing all these games on my galaxy ace

krishna kanth kapatralla said...

i didn't get that in ear type ear buds.i got ordinary ones which can be thrown in the dustbin.i love samsung but after seeing this i hate samsung.

Hasnat Ali said...

 tell me how  i wanted to play it for agez

thirukumaran said...

fuckin phone
i cant even install a flash player i couldnt play videos on the net
fuck u samsung
no worthy games
i coulodnt even install 
i hate u ace
and i cant update my phone to 2.3
fuck u
i hate samsung to the core

thirukumaran said...

i want to know how to install flash player

thirukumaran said...

even samsing x peria is better compared to ace

thirukumaran said...

the dumbest phone ever galaxy ace

Buy Used Cell Phone said...

Great! thank you for sharing this!

Yashraj said...

Hey man u should udate ur review
The ace now has gingerbread and along with it VGA recording!

The Indian Geek said...

All our reviews, including this one, are written with the view of the software/hardware at the time of release.

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