The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 — is it a worthwhile device or is it just another handset in Samsung’s quest to make all the phones? While I wouldn’t get super excited over this device, it’s still pretty decent, despite it being like every other Samsung device.
I’ve got some serious deja-vu going on because I could swear we’ve reviewed this phone before, but it was probably just another very similar model. While the Galaxy Ace 3 might be a bit disappointing, let’s take a look at what makes this one ever so different, starting with the specs.
Samsung’s Galaxy Ace 3 features a 4-inch TFT WVGA display, and under the hood, we’re looking at a Broadcom chipset with a 1GHz CPU and a VideoCore IV GPU. There’s also 1GB of RAM and 4GB of onboard storage in the 3G model we’re reviewing. The LTE version features an additional 4GB of internal storage, giving you a total of 8GB, not including how much storage the operating system will take.
The Galaxy Ace 3 also sports a 5-megapixel rear camera, capable of capturing 720p video, while the front facing shooter is VGA. Power wise, at the head of the Galaxy Ace 3 is a 1,500 mAh battery; its LTE counterpart has a much more impressive 1,800 mAh unit.
Like other low to midrange offerings from Samsung, the Galaxy Ace 3 has a shape that suggests other more high end Galaxy phones while being smaller and a little chunkier. As for the button layout, it’s usual for Samsung — power button on the right, volume rocker on the left, headphone jack up top, and the microUSB at the bottom. Both the SIM and micro SD slots are accessed by removing the back.
The Galaxy Ace 3 is a relatively modest performer in the Galaxy line, but the one thing that it really has going for it is that it’s very comfortable to hold.The entire phone is a fingerprint-magnet, but that could be said about most phones these days.
It goes without saying, the Galaxy Ace 3 is a midrange performer, and that shows in the display. The handset has a 800 x 480 4-inch screen, rated at 233ppi. It’s not the best we’ve seen, but it’s certainly not the worst.
Regardless, resolution isn’t everything when it comes to the display. Brightness is decent but when you combine it with how reflective the screen is, this is not an easy phone to look at in bright sunlight, even when you max out the brightness.
On the plus side, black levels are fairly deep, colors are generally well represented and viewing angles are good. By the time you’re at an angle where colors start to change, you can barely see the screen anyway.
Looking at the low-midrange specs, we weren’t expecting any crazy performance out of this little handset. Surprisingly, the Galaxy Ace 3 actually performed quite well.
As usual, we ran AnTuTu Benchmark about 10 times and saw scores staying very close, running from around 8,200 to 8,600. When all was said and done, we had a final average score of almost exactly 8,400. 8,400.8 to be exact.
Next we used Epic Citadel, but despite trying our best, all we experienced with the Galaxy Ace 3 was constant crashes. In real world situations, the Galaxy Ace 3 never really seemed to lag or stutter whether we were scrolling through various screens or launching apps. Gaming performance isn’t going to be great, but it handled lighter 3D games like Subway Surfers without any problems.
In other words, you’ll be able to do some light gaming easily with this device, but more intensive stuff just isn’t that impressive.
And now, we come to software. The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 runs Jelly Bean 4.2, and as per the norm, it runs Samsung’s TouchWiz interface. That said, the Galaxy Ace 3 shares the general look of TouchWiz that was introduced with the Galaxy S4.
The version we’re reviewing didn’t come through a carrier, so it’s pretty much bloatware free. Of course, it does have the usual bevy of Samsung apps — S Planner, S Voice S Translator, and even the My Files file browser. Aside from that, there’s not a whole lot of other apps preinstalled, which is nice considering the low amount of storage.
The 5-megapixel performer on the Galaxy Ace 3 really isn’t that bad, and the camera app interface is on par with newer Samsung phones. Of course, it doesn’t offer nearly as many options and modes as the S4 and even other midrange devices. However, you still get Sound and Shot and Panorama mode, among others.
As for picture quality, they aren’t that bad for a midrange device. However, it can be hard to get a nicely focused shot. It is possible to get one, it just take a a few tries. When you so get a good one, however, colors are vivid and the image is generally sharp, though there is a bit of visual noise in all but the brightest light.
Video capture is limited to 720p and is nothing to write home about. It looks alright, but with the phone’s small size and no stabilization features, shaky video is nearly a given.
Depending on the model you got (3G or LTE), you should either have a 1,500 or 1,800 mAh battery. Nonetheless, battery life isn’t that great in either device, though it’s definitely better in the LTE model due to the larger capacity.
During my testing, battery life was down from a full charge to 50% in just a few hours of testing and benchmarking. Granted, this was fairly heavy use, but most of the time, I see batteries lasting longer, especially in fairly low-spec’d devices.
However, there is good news here. Like most Samsung Galaxy phones, the battery is replaceable, which means that you can get that extra bit of needed juice with a spare battery.
I’ll admit it: it’s getting tough to figure out who all these different Samsung phones are for. Is this a good fit for someone? Yeah, I’m sure, it’s just with so many other similar phones available it’s hard to make a specific recommendation.
For $250 contract-free it’s not a bad deal, just make sure to check your other options before you go for it and make sure it’s a good fit for you. If it isn’t, well, there are a plethora of other Samsung phones to take for a spin, and there’s surely a whole lot more to come this year.