Samsung Galaxy S Advance review

Reviews Ben Griffin 17:09, 22 May 2012

We review the Galaxy S Advance, a mid-range offering from Samsung that runs on Android Gingerbread

Rating: 
3.5
Pros: 
Relatively fast, Great display, Feels like a more portable Galaxy S2
Cons: 
Android 2.3 is starting to show its age, Feels a lot fatter than the Galaxy S2
Verdict: 
The Samsung Galaxy S Advance is a very capable device but when you can get devices with Android Ice Cream Sandwich for less money it becomes hard to wholeheartedly recommend

Living in the shadow of the Samsung Galaxy S2 must be difficult, and this is even more the case when you are a mid-range device, like the Samsung Galaxy S Advance on review today.

When it graced our desk, the Galaxy S2 stood out as being pretty special, but it was pricey. Unless you could afford a £35-a-month contract or more than £400 for the handset SIM-free, you weren't getting one. Unless your dad was Lee Kun-hee, of course.

Rolling on into 2012 and a slew of new Android devices have arrived, including the Galaxy S Advance. And here lies the biggest issue: the Galaxy S2 has dropped in price to around the £350 mark, which isn't far off the handset price of the S Advance. On contract, the S2 is also suitably cheap, which makes it very tempting when you know Android Ice Cream Sandwich is readily available.

The Galaxy S Advance comes with Android 2.3 and TouchWiz 4.0, which is by no means bad but there are plenty of more powerful alternatives out there such as the HTC One V and the Sony Xperia S (which is getting ICS in June). Both devices, like the Galaxy S2, are priced incredibly competitively, making the S Advance look overpriced and behind the times.

Aesthetics

Let's not right off the S Advance just yet, though. Being a slightly smaller Galaxy S2 and a more powerful Galaxy Advance means the performance is great for a mid-range device, and it also means you get a relatively lightweight plastic chassis.

A textured back provides a little extra grip and it has the added benefit of looking better than plain plastic. It does feel a little cheap in the hand, and unlike the Galaxy S2 there's no slim profile to help outweigh the feeling, thanks to being 9.7mm thick. There's no chin, though, to make way for the camera which makes it a little more appealing in some ways.

On the front is the trademark Samsung logo in silver above a black trim that surrounds the 4-inch display. At the bottom is a physical home button, and the rest of Android is controlled on-screen. The button feels a little flimsy and the whole handset has feels no way near the build quality found on something like the iPhone 4 or the Nokia Lumia 800.

It's not a bad looking device, though - it's actually quite understated, which is a plus. The volume button is also sensibly located on the left side and the lock screen towards the top on the right. It's just the 3.5mm socket located at the bottom is a pain because you have to put the phone in your pocket upside down, and the back and menu buttons (sat either side of the home button) only light up when pressed. Great when you know the device but not so great if you are a new user.

In summary, nobody is going to ask you what phone you have if you pull the Galaxy S Advance out of your pocket (probably upside down) but at the same time no one will think you are in possession of something rubbish.

Hardware

Where Samsung usually falls down in construction, the hardware is usually top-notch. In this instance, 768MB of RAM, a dual core Cortex A9 processor and either 8GB or 16GB of storage makes for quite a rapid experience.

In fact, it's quickly apparent how smooth the operating system is when you start exploring. A very minor jitter is present so don't expect quite what you get on the Galaxy S2 but the difference is negligible. It's only when you start looking at Android 4.0 devices do you see a difference.

The benefit of reasonable specs is that most apps and games on the Google Play store will run, and run well. In fact, we struggled to find anything that posed too much effort. With Android you always have to think ahead because of how quickly hardware is changing, so it's good to know what internals of the S Advance are able to cope with modern-day smartphone use.

With that said, the lack of Ice Cream Sandwich is a bit of a bottleneck, which the average consumer probably won't mind, but tech-fans most certainly will, especially if you have to stick with a phone for two years.

Specifications

Typical Price £314
UK Launch January, 2012
Frequency GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
Phone Style Candy bar
Thickness 9.7mm
Length 123.2mm
Width 63mm
Weight 120g
Built-in Memory 8/16GB of storage, 2GB of ROM, 768MB of RAM
Additional Memory Up to 32GB via microSD card slot
High-speed Data HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
Connectivity Bluetooth, DLNA, Wi-Fi hotspot, Wi-Fi
Screen Size 4.0-inches, 480x800 pixels (223ppi)
Screen Colours 16 million
Camera 5-megapixel with autofocus
Designer Lens No
Camera Resolution 2592x1944
Zoom Yes
Flash LED flash
Video Resolution 720p@30 frames per second
Ringtones Yes
Music Player Yes
Music Formats MP3/WAV/eAAC+/AC3/FLAC player
Song Storage 8/16GB, expandable up to 32GB via microSD card slot
Radio Stereo FM with RDS
Speaker Yes
Video Calling Yes, 1.3-megapixel front-facing camera
Internet Yes
Browser HTML, Adobe Flash
Games No, but downloadable from Google Play

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