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Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 review: Samsung Galaxy Ace 2

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The Good Dual-core chip; Takes good photos; MicroSD card slot.

The Bad Android Gingerbread not Ice Cream Sandwich; Camera is slightly laggy.

The Bottom Line For pay as you go budget buyers, the Galaxy Ace 2 is a great all-rounder, with a dual-core chip and an excellent camera. It's not so competitively priced SIM-free or on contract so its appeal is limited. Android enthusiasts may be disappointed to hear it runs on Gingerbread software, rather than the newer Ice Cream Sandwich.

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7.5 Overall

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If you cast your mind back to 2011, you may recall Samsung dropping a Galaxy smart phone for the budget-conscious -- the Galaxy Ace. Well, déjà vu lovers, ace news: Sammy has done it again with this souped-up sequel.

If you're lusting after the super-powered Samsung Galaxy S3 but simply don't have half a grand to burn on a phone, point your peepers at the Ace 2 -- a device that promises to put a sprinkle of Samsung's galactic magic in your back pocket for a fraction of the S3's price.

The Galaxy Ace 2 is up for grabs for an affordable £180 on pay as you go, or a mid-range £240 SIM-free. It's also gratis on two-year contracts from around £18 a month.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 side
The Galaxy Ace 2 isn't a looker but it's a solid performer.

Should I buy the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2?

The Ace 2 is an excellent choice if you want a powerful but affordable pay as you go blower and don't have a small fortune to splash on it. It doesn't look especially dazzling, so design junkies may not want it near their fingers. Being bland is definitely its biggest let-down.

On contract, the Ace 2 isn't such a great buy. Shop around and you can pick up the excellent Samsung Galaxy S2 for under £20 a month so it's not worth bothering with the Ace 2. Its SIM-free price is also not that competitive -- effectively it's pay as you go or bust. 

Under the Ace 2's plasticky bonnet lurks a dual-core chip -- a welcome injection of oomph -- which has been paired with a clear, crisp display and topped off with decent audio.

One minor niggle is the software keyboard can feel cramped in portrait mode. If you're large of hand or fat fingered, you might prefer to poke and prod the slightly more premium Samsung Galaxy S Advance, which has a 4-inch screen.

Alternatives at this pay as you go price include the cute and colourful dual-core Sony Xperia U, the Intel-powered Orange San Diego or ZTE's Tegra-powered Grand X.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 angled
The Ace 2's dual-core chip produces some welcome poke for the price.

Processor and performance

Inside the Ace 2 is a dual-core 800MHz processor. That's not an especially quick clock, but having dual-core action helps to keep things smoother than you might expect.

I found speed and responsiveness to be pretty good, without being blisteringly quick. You'll certainly have to eyeball a few loading screens but, for most tasks, the Ace 2 doesn't keep you waiting around for long.

Web browsing is nippy. On some full-fat websites, you will have to wait a little for graphical elements to load as you scroll around. But the speed of populating pages is impressive. Lightweight apps download in seconds. You'll need to be more patient if you're installing a graphically rich 3D game like Blood & Glory -- then it's a matter of waiting minutes.

Overall, I found the phone was reliable but it did throw up the occasional digital gremlin. At one point it warned me that the battery level was critical and the phone needed charging, yet there was at least a third left in the tank. Another incident saw it claim an app wasn't installed on the phone when it very much was. Such behaviour was exceptional though, and in general, the Ace 2 was a solid performer.

The phone displayed its mid-range credentials in chip and graphics benchmark tests. Running Antutu's benchmark, it scored 4,616 -- just bested by the LG Optimus 2X. On Quadrant's test, it bagged 2,426 -- better than the HTC Desire HD but once again beaten by LG's dual-core blower. I also ran GL Benchmark's Standard Egypt test of 3D graphics and the Ace 2 totalled a middling 34 frames per second.

The handset managed a mid-table web browsing performance. On Vellamo's benchmark, it clocked up a score of 725 -- about the same as the Sony Xperia Play but worse than the Xperia Arc. It ran the SunSpider JavaScript test at 2,938.4ms (lower is better).

Call quality is excellent -- I had no trouble hearing or being heard when talking on the Ace 2's telephone. The rear speaker is also impressively loud and clear, even at the top of its range. If you want to impress your mates by blasting out tunes, the Ace 2 should do you proud.

There's 4GB of on-board storage, which you can easily increase by popping a microSD card in the handy slot on the side of the phone.

Battery life is average smart phone fare so you'll need to charge it up every night. Samsung reckons it's good for up to 7.5 hours of talk time over 3G or up to 3 hours of video chatting. Standby time is up to 640 hours. I found the phone happily lasted a day's modest use. If you're an especially heavy user, you may need to charge it up during the day.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 scale
The Ace 2 is graced with a 3.8-inch touchscreen.


It's safe to say the Ace 2 won't be bagging any design awards. Indeed, it's more likely to invite lawyers' letters. From the front, the first Ace closely resembled Apple's iPhone 3GS. The Ace 2 continues this dubious tradition, sporting rounded corners and a band of curvy silver trim.

As smart phone designs go, it's dated to say the least. The best that can be said is it's fairly inoffensive -- at least when ogled from the front.

Turn it around and there's no escaping the plastic underbelly. Its lightly textured backplate makes a tacky squeal when you run your fingernails over it -- as pleasant as nails down a blackboard.

Below the thin silver band holding its face together, the Ace 2 has rounded plastic sides. At 10.5mm thick, it's not insubstantial and definitely has some heft to it, without being really chunky. This extra thickness makes it feel less classy than Samsung's other sleek blowers. If you want a super-slim phone, you'll need to save up for the Samsung Galaxy S2, which is about 8.5mm thick.

Despite looking very plasticky, the Ace 2 feels fairly substantial in the hand, weighing 122g. This isn't as heavy as Apple's iPhone 4S, which tips the scales at 140g, but it's not a featherlight creature either. Still, a touch of heft means the Ace 2 feels plenty solid and sturdy to hold.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 side
It's fatter than the likes of the slender Galaxy S2, but not so much as to cause an unsightly bulge in your pocket.

Screen and ports

The front of the phone is dominated by a 3.8-inch display -- a smidge more glass than was on the original Ace. This doesn't employ the luxurious AMOLED screen tech you'd find on higher-end Samsung smart phones, but it still looks bright, clear and colourful.

Even better news, Samsung's seen fit to bump up the resolution from a measly 320x480 pixels on the original Ace to a hale and hearty 480x800 pixels. That equates to 246 pixels per inch. As a result, on-screen text and icons look satisfyingly crisp. It's not as easy on the eye as the exceptionally hi-res S3 screen but it's perfectly respectable.

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