Other phone features of the Samsung Ace include a speakerphone, voice-activated dialing, conference calling, speed dial, and text and multimedia messages. The phone book is only limited by the available memory with room in each entry for multiple phone numbers, e-mail addresses, work and home address, job title, and more. For caller ID purposes, you can assign a photo to a contact, any of 23 polyphonic ring tones, as well as a group category.
The Samsung Ace is also an EV-DO capable handset, so you'll get swift data speeds for Web browsing and can watch video on Sprint TV if you so choose. The add-on service, which starts at $20 per month, gives you access to programming from a variety of channels, including CNN, Comedy Central, E, the NFL Network, and Sprint Exclusive Entertainment. In addition, you can listen to live streaming music and talk radio from Sirius, VH1 Mobile, and MTV Mobile. Sadly, the Ace does not support overseas HSDPA networks.
The Ace is equipped with Bluetooth 2.0, allowing for wireless connectivity with mono and stereo Bluetooth headsets and hands-free kits. You can also use the Samsung Ace as a wireless modem for your laptop with its dial-up networking capabilities. You will, of course, need to subscribe to a Sprint Power Vision Modem Plan, which costs $39.99 per month for 40MB or $49.99 per month for unlimited for the privilege of DUN. Unlike the BlackBerry 8830, the Ace does not have integrated GPS.
The Samsung Ace is a Windows Mobile 6 device, running the Standard Edition with the full Microsoft Office Mobile Suite and Windows Live integration. The smartphone also ships with Microsoft's Direct Push Technology for real-time e-mail delivery and automatic synchronization with your Outlook calendar, tasks, and contacts via Exchange Server. You can also access POP3 and IMAP accounts.
Other productivity tools include a PDF viewer, a voice recorder, a notepad, a calculator, a world clock, a measurement converter. There's also a Task Manager so you can optimize memory usage and the smartphone's performance. The Samsung Ace has 64MB of onboard memory. The microSD expansion slot also supports up to 2GB cards, which is slightly disappointing since many competing products can accept 4GB cards. For more applications and utilities, there's a preloaded shortcut to the Sprint Software Store or you can check out CNET Download.com for more titles.
Finally, the Samsung Ace features a 1.3-megapixel camera with video recording capabilities. For still images, you have a choice of five shooting modes, three sizes, and three quality settings. There's no flash, but you can adjust the white balance as well as add various effects. In video mode, you have two size choices and the same white balance and effect options that are available in camera mode.
Picture quality was pretty decent. Objects were clearly defined and the color wasn't perfect, but definitely better than other camera phones we've seen. That said, we found that there's a bit of delay from the time you press the capture button to the time it actually takes the picture, so be sure not to move your hand, otherwise you'll end up with a blurry shot. Sadly, video recordings did not fare well. Clips were choppy and the color was off.
We tested the dual-mode (CDMA 850/1900; EV-DO; GSM 900/1800) Samsung Ace in San Francisco using Sprint service, and call quality was decent. Voices sounded a bit tinny on our end though there was plenty of volume, and we could still make out the conversation. We also had no problem interacting with our bank's automated voice response system or making calls back to the States from Barcelona, Spain. Meanwhile, our friends didn't have any major complaints about the audio quality. The speakerphone was satisfactory, though there was a bit of an echo. We had no problem pairing the Ace with the Logitech Mobile Traveller Bluetooth headset or the Motorola S9 Bluetooth Active Headphones.
General performance was typical of Windows Mobile devices. That is to say that response time slowed down a bit as we used more applications. Web browsing was pretty swift thanks to Sprint's EV-DO network, though some graphics-intensive sites took awhile to fully load. Multimedia performance could have been better in our opinion. Music playback lacked bass and richness through the phone's speakers, and we really wish Samsung would do away with its proprietary headphone jack so we can plug in a decent pair of earbuds. We watched some clips from Sprint TV as well, and though audio and images were synchronized, the picture could be pixilated and blurry at times.
The Samsung Ace's 1,300mAh lithium-ion battery is rated for 4.3 hours of talk time. The Ace beat the rated talk time as we were able to get 7.5 hours in our battery drain tests. According to FCC radiation tests, the Ace has a digital SAR rating of 1 watt per kilogram.