Review : Samsung Galaxy Ace

Most of my friends know that I am a big fan of iPhone. So it may come as somewhat of a surprise that I ended up getting an Android phone. The Samsung Galaxy Ace to be exact. 

Lock screen on my Android

One of the main factors for going in for this phone was the cost - at a bit over 13K INR it is almost a third cheaper than the iPhone4s which is still not available in stores in India. Another factor was that I wanted to try out Android programming. 

The most often asked question that I get from people is how do I find the Android OS and the phone after having used the iPhone 3G over the last 3 years. Here is my review. 

My main criteria in looking for a new phone was as follows : 
- Android 2.3 as that is the current latest OS for phones available ( Samsung just launched with aOS4, but it is not yet available in India). 
- Within 15k INR
- Have a camera with a flash
- Be able to create a wifi-hotspot 

The ACE in my research came out to be good on all counts.

Now onto the actual review broken into categories. Comparisons are based on my experience with iOS4 on iPhone3G, iOS5 on my iPad, and Android OS 2.3.4 on the Galaxy ACE.

Notifications
Notifications on the Android rock ! The multitasking and background processing is phenomenal. Whether you are on gtalk, or twitter or facebook, any updates that you get are instantly displayed on the top notification bar. iOS5, with its new shiny notification system does not match up to Android in terms of notifications.

User Experience. 
Android still needs to go a long way in terms of user experience to match up with iOS5. The experience on my old iPhone is still better than the new phone. The screen transitions, the font rendering , the display of graphics is just so much better on iOS than aOS. Lets take the simple case of double tapping in a webpage. On the iOS it expands that table or div element to span the screen perfectly. Easy to read now. However, on the aOS, it just expands to what it thinks is a readable size which gets the lines to go out of the screen ! Horrible ! 

Battery Life
The 3 year old iPhone has better battery life than the few weeks old Ace. It is probably due to the fact that I can have multiple background services running, while the iPhone3 cannot multi task at all. the iPad has the most amazing battery life so far - i can get through a week with it.

This is my biggest pain point as of now. My current work involves me being on calls for quite a bit during the day, and I cannot get through a full work day on one charge alone . To be fair my work day is long - 10am -10pm kinds.

Edit : Battery life is horrible! 

Music quality 
Both are good. The speaker on the ACE is louder than the iPhone.

Camera
The Galaxy ACE wins hands down. the 5MP camera does great pic and video recording and also has a flash. However, the iPhone4s has an amazing camera which will beat the Galaxy Ace to pulp. 

Unprocessed pic of a view in Dehradun with Mussorie hills in the background. 

Earphones
Typically people do not pay much thought to it, but the default earphones with the Galaxy Ace actually hurt the ears. I need to get a new one. The default earphones with the iPhone on the other hand are very comfortable. 

Customization
The aOS allows for many customizations that you cannot even dream of in the iOS. For instance below is my home screen on the phone - the date and calendar widgets are down loaded from the app market. iPhone gives much better apps, but the screen layout by itself is limited. 

A customized home screen

App Store
Here, the apple's appstore is much better. The categorization and browsability - either throught the phone or itunes is much much better than Android. If you want to just browse apps in android, you will get lost. Its better to figure out what you want and then search for it. Also the quality of apps is much better on the iOS than on the aOS. Lets take the case of the facebook app - it is much better on iOS.

Ultimately, I think it comes down to price. If price is a constrainging factor, the android based phones - like this Galaxy ACE is total value for money , paisa vassol. If however, you are not constrained by money, then the iPhone4S is an amazing device to get. 


8 comments:

  1. I am also planning to buy Galaxy Ace, but I am really concerned about the battery backup o Ace.

    Is there any alternate in 15k budget with android and at-least 5 MP camera.

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  2. You can check out the Motorola Defy. But it is supposed to be having similar battery life.

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  3. using SGS2 now. battery runs max for a day and half with a decent amount of multi tasking,background activity, lot of texting, a few calls and periodic wifi. I carry a very compact Trent iCruiser IMP1000 11000mAh batt pack in my backpack that can charge most devices chargeable via USB (incl ipad and samsung tab) and one full charge lasts for cpl of weeks. Also, most popular iOS apps are available for aOS also i guess.

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  4. How much does the batt pack cost ?

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  5. Nice review Vibhu, and I like most of what you've said. I am collecting my thoughts to write my own iOS vs Android review. I agree with most of what you said; but here are my counterpoints.

    Notifications: Configurable in iOS, not configurable in Android. For example; I dont want to be interrupted by a notification for my turn at Words With Friends, but I sure as hell need my phone to beep loudly, flash the screen, etc when I have a meeting coming up. Android treats all notifications the same; including notification SOUNDS!! (big FAIL!) but iOS lets your configure how each application's notifications behave, and you can configure a different notification sound each different application (huge WIN!)

    UX: I agree sucks on Android. And with the uncertainty of getting ICS for your 1 year old device, Android is basically a big FU to all their users. At least with iOS you know that your current plus one gen old device will get the new update and you know this from day 1. With android, you need to hope and pray.

    Multitasking: sucks on android. Why? See your point about battery life. No such issues on iOS for me, but definitely seeing it with Android.

    Speaking of battery; iOS gives you battery level in 1% increments. Android is super vague 10% increments, plus I havent seen an option to display battery percentage on the home / lock screen.

    Camera: Sucks on the Atrix that I have compared to the iPhone 4 that I had.

    Customization: Particularly UI customization; Android wins this hands down. I miss not having widgets on iOS. I miss the ability to choose my own keyboard / input method. I hate to have to jailbreak iOS to achieve this. I hope this changes with iOS6

    App Store: I agree, Market Place is like a teenager's bedroom; messy and you cant find what you are looking for unless you know what it is and where it is. App store on the other hand is so polished.

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  6. Nikhil , thanks for the update to the review ! :)

    Somethings I found which you may find helpful.

    Notifications :
    iOS has all the notification settings under the settings - so its easy to find and flip the switch. The Notifications settings in Android is per application. So, for instance, I have set different notification tones for email and gtalk but hitting the menu button in the app, then changing the notification tone. I don't know if it works for all the apps.

    You can get battery % on lock screen by installing apps from the market. Check this one out : https://market.android.com/details?id=org.firezenk.simplylock&hl=en

    Camera compared to my iPhone3 rocks. However, the camera in the iPhone 4 and now the iPhone4s is much above this one. 5MP is part of the picture, but there is a whole lot more that goes into the iPhone.

    Ultimately, its as someone commented when I was cribbing about the low quality of a few things - itna paisa mein itnaich milega. Comparing the stuff that I can get for INR 13,200 with the stuff that I can get for INR 36,000 this is good enough.

    My biggest problem is still battery though. No amount of fiddling around with stuff is going to get me better battery. I have to look around for a better battery which can fit inside this phone as the last option.

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  7. Added a default photo. Will a few more as soon as the USB starts working on this laptop ( did not install drivers here, and it is not working to mount USB without it on windows).

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  8. BTW, on the subject of ringtones/notification tones, I hate is how iOS does not allow me to use my songs as ringtones. On the Android it is an easy task to just drag drop to the SD card and use the song as a ringtone.

    Its ironic that how apple uses the hdd from Samsung for the iPhone to give the GBs of inbuilt storage... but does not provide it in their own phones.

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