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Samsung Galaxy S Advance review: Samsung Galaxy S Advance

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The Good Dual-core chip; Slick 4-inch Super AMOLED screen; microSD card slot.

The Bad Android Gingerbread not Ice Cream Sandwich; Plasticky backplate.

The Bottom Line The Samsung Galaxy S Advance is a souped-up version of the Galaxy S that looks like a smaller S2 but packs a curved Super AMOLED screen. Its specs won't blow your socks off, but they're not bad if you're in the market for a mid-range pay-up-front blower -- provided you're happy to stomach the slightly stale Android Gingerbread.

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8.3 Overall

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Samsung's Galaxy S2 was a massive success so it's no surprise the company is churning out new variations on the theme. The Galaxy S Advance is a souped-up version of the earlier Galaxy S but takes its design inspiration from the ever-so-popular S2.

The S Advance will set you back around £270 on pay as you go or from about £290 SIM free. You'll pay nothing for the handset on two-year contracts starting at £18 a month.

Should I buy the Galaxy S Advance?

The S Advance is a mid-range blower for people who want some Samsung Galaxy S2 magic without burning a £350+ hole in their pocket. It's possible to nab the super-slick S2 for a cheaper monthly toll -- starting at around £15 -- than the S Advance. Unless you drive a very hard bargain down at your local phone shop, it isn't worth your while shelling out monthly for this handset.

Samsung Galaxy S Advance
From the front, the S Advance looks an awful lot like the S2.

Its pay as you go price competes with the likes of the Gingerbread-packing HTC Desire S and Desire HD. Notably, HTC also now sells an Ice Cream Sandwich-flavoured mid-range phone -- the pocket-friendly One V -- which has a smaller price tag than the S Advance and up-to-date Android software. The One V can be bagged from £220 on pay as you go but doesn't boast as big a screen as the S Advance.

Samsung also offers a slightly cheaper Galaxy that's worth considering -- the Galaxy Ace 2.


The first thing you'll notice when you clap eyes on the S Advance is its screen. This 4-inch panel uses Super AMOLED tech -- a kind of display that Samsung is particularly fond of. The screen is bright and colourful, with hues that tend towards being over-saturated, which makes colours really pop out.

Look carefully and you'll see the screen is slightly curved so it fits snugly against your chops. Face-hugging aside, there's not much practical benefit to that curve, but it's a subtle design touch that looks quite cool.

The resolution of the display isn't particularly high, offering up 480x800 pixels (which equates to 233 pixels per inch). That pales in comparison with 720p resolution phones like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus or the Huawei Ascend D Quad, but those blowers sit further up the smart phone price spectrum so that's to be expected.

Despite its relatively average resolution, the S Advance's lightly curved pane is a pretty nice place to eyeball videos and photos -- offering plenty of room and making your stuff look clear and colourful. The viewing angle is also good. The screen could certainly be crisper but for the cash you're spending it's still pretty slick.

Samsung Galaxy S Advance bend
Spot the curve? The era of bendy phones has arrived.

Elsewhere, this banana-shaped blower sports a design very similar to that of the S2. A squarish build with rounded corners is the order of the day. While at 9.69mm, the S Advance isn't as waifishly thin as the S2 (which is 8.49mm thick), it's still pleasingly svelte. At 120g, it's also nice and light.

Build quality generally feels solid, thanks to the metallic trim wrapped around the sides of the phone which, coupled with the curved screen, gives the S Advance a premium look from the front. But turn it over and the rear is the weakest point of the design, clad as it is in a plasticky dark grey textured finish. The camera bulges out of one corner. It looks cheap and slightly naff.

On the front of the phone is a single physical key -- Samsung's trademark capsule-shaped rectangle. This is easy to press but it does feel on the cheap side. There are also two touch keys, one either side of the home button -- menu and back. The symbols denoting these keys are invisible until you tap on them, at which point they light up. This can be annoying if you forget which is which as you have to tap the key to find out.

On the right edge of the phone is a physical power key, and on the left, a volume rocker. Both of these buttons feel responsive.

Unusually, Samsung has sited the 3.5mm headphone jack on the bottom of the phone near the micro-USB port. The latter is used for charging and ferrying photos and other files such as music and videos to and from the phone.

Crack off the plastic back of the S Advance and you'll find a microSD card slot for expanding its 8GB of on-board storage (there's also a less common 16GB version of the phone), a SIM slot and a removable 1,500mAh battery.

Samsung Galaxy S Advance base
Under the S Advance's very shiny front lurks a dual-core 1GHz engine.

Processor and performance

The classy face of the S Advance is probably the high point of this mid-range mobile but its hardware is still respectable. It's powered by a 1GHz dual-core processor. There are more powerful chips out there but at this pay as you go price range, single-core chips tend to be the order of the day. You'll be hard pressed to make your money go further (unless you can afford the pay monthly contract route).

That's not to say the S Advance is lag free. There's certainly some judder and inertia, especially if you're doing more taxing stuff like multi-tasking by opening lots of windows in the web browser. Overall performance for a mid-range phone isn't bad though.

Web browsing isn't always lightning quick but it's fairly fleet of foot -- even when you're flicking around full-fat desktop versions of websites. Lightweight apps also download and load without huge delays. And the S Advance will snap a photo in about a second -- again, not too shabby.

Samsung Galaxy S Advance
The S Advance's dual-core chip means it's not as laggy as some 'droids when it comes to web browsing.

Flicking through photos in the gallery doesn't over-tax its engines either, and Google's Play app store, while definitely on the juddery side, presents its digital wares without keeping you hanging around too long.

Don't expect all apps to be super-slick though -- heavyweight apps will certainly have a stutter in their step and even Facebook's app feels laggy.

In benchmark tests, the S Advance delivered a decent middle-of-the-range performance, turning in a solid score of 2,666.7ms on the SunSpider JavaScript test, which probes browser performance (lower is better here). It achieved 830 on Vellamo's test, scoring about the same as the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.

In Antutu's test of CPU, graphics and memory, the S Advance gained 5,091 -- a considerable improvement on the original Galaxy S and much better than the HTC One V's 2,736. In Quadrant's benchmark, the S Advance scored a solid 2,696, beating the Desire HD and One V (among others).

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