Having released new handsets for snap-happy and adventurous users at the end of 2013, Samsung is back with a new, budget-priced phone. The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 is a simple Android 4.2 handset that tries to serve casual phone-users who are looking to spend around £180. It’s a bright little device with a clean design and solid specs but struggles with Samsung’s usual app-overload and stiff competition in the Moto G.
[alert type=alert-blue]Sammy Shines[/alert]
Samsung’s design experts have come up with a shiny, attractive phone in the Ace 3. Both sides of the phone stick to the basics, with reduced bezel on the front and a plain plastic backing. The glossy finish gives it a premium look that a lot of budget phones lack. One of the best features are the dedicated, pressure-sensitive home buttons, which light up when the phone is on but are invisible while it’s in sleep mode. There’s also a thick dedicated home button on the front, which would occasionally get stuck.
A lot of phone manufacturers these days seem to have forgotten that 4-inches is an ideal size for a phone screen but the Ace 3 is a great champion for the size. And at 115g, the handset is the ideal weight to put in a pocket and forget about. Samsung has certainly done well with the design side of its budget phone, but the problems start elsewhere.
A few months ago, we’d have told you that the specs for the Ace 3 were great considering the £180 price tag. But in this post- £135 Moto G world in which we live in, it’s a bit of a harder sell.
For starters, both phones pack the same Snapdragon 400 processor but the Moto G has four cores compared to the Ace 3’s two. Neither chipset will set the world on fire but if you can get a faster, more efficient one for less money then, well, it’s not hard to figure out who you should go with. The 420p screen on the Ace 3 is also trumped by the sharper 720p screen on the Moto G, not to mention that, as of January, Motorola has upgraded the Moto G to an Android 4.4 handset that adds some useful features.
We could compare the phones in a lot of other ways but it just ends up being a one-sided fight. It’s clear that the Ace 3 was designed before Motorola redefined the expectations of the budget smartphone and that Samsung will have to step things up with the inevitable Ace 4 if it still wants to compete in this market.
[alert type=alert-blue]Full app[/alert]
The Ace 3 hasn’t been spared from Samsung’s usual app onslaught, despite the memory being capped at 8GB. There are 46 different apps ready and waiting when you first boot up the device, meaning that 3GB of the already limited storage space is already taken up. To make matters worse, some of these apps double up. There are two voice recording apps and Samsung has included its own app storefront to push its own content along with the standard Google Play Store.
If you’re buying a budget handset, we very much doubt that half of the apps the company has conjured up will appeal to you. Some sort of partnership with Tripadvisor means that you have a holiday-searching app already installed. That’s great for maybe two or three occasions throughout the year. The rest of the time it will just be taking up space.
The UI could also do with some trimming down. Given that the Ace 3 isn’t designed for hardcore phone users, it shoves a lot of information in your face. Pull down the notifications bar and it’s quite easy to get lost in the sea of tabs, buttons and alerts. There’s not even space left on the screen to display the date without scrolling.
Clearly, Samsung has got its design right with the Ace 3, but it needs to attend to both the software and specs if it wants to keep competing in this market.
[alert type=alert-blue]Who is this for?[/alert]
The Ace 3 is a budget-priced smartphone for those that want just a taste of what today’s devices offer without emptying their wallets.
If the Moto G hadn’t shaken up the budget market towards the end of 2013 then we’d have no trouble recommending the Galaxy Ace 3. It’s got a great minimalist design that shines with its glossy finish. The bright screen compliments a solid spec sheet that can handle low-level gaming and the camera will serve any casual users well. But at the end of the day, you can get a phone with a better processor, screen and battery for less. No doubt that Samsung’s next budget offering will be adjusted to be more competitive but for now the Moto G remains the budget to beat.