Samsung's crafted another mid-range Android smart phone to live in its Galaxy stables, dubbing it the Galaxy Ace Plus. This spirited filly is a souped-up version of last year's Galaxy Ace. But Samsung has also just announced the Galaxy Ace 2, a proper sequel to that older phone. So is there any reason to prefer the Plus?
I've gone hands-on with this new smart phone at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and I'm primed to deliver some first impressions. Read on for all the details.
The original Ace, with its silver stripe that covered the sides of the phone, was very reminiscent of Apple's iPhone 4S. But this mobile looks much more like the iPhone 3GS, with rounded edges and a gently curved back.
I like the look, even though it's fairly basic. There's a big home button underneath the centre of the screen, flanked by two touch-sensitive keys. Spin the Ace Plus around and you'll see a textured effect across the back, with the phone's 5-megapixel snapper residing square in the middle.
Unfortunately, the Ace Plus isn't as delightfully slim as some of Samsung's other smart phones. At 11.2mm thick, it's a few millimetres less thin than the slender Galaxy S2, and just a tiny bit chunkier than the recently-unveiled Galaxy Ace 2, which measures 10.5mm deep.
It's got the Ace 2 beat on weight, though only by a tiny margin. The Ace Plus weighs 115g, while the Ace 2 tips the scales at 122g. Despite being light and packing mid-range specs, I was chuffed to find that the Ace Plus feels really sturdy and well put together. I gave the casing a squeeze but couldn't feel any creaking or give, indicating high build quality.
A more robust build means the Ace Plus could be tough enough if you accidentally dropped it, as well as feeling a lot classier in your mitts. Good stuff.
The screen on the Ace Plus measures 3.65 inches. That's bigger than the first Ace, which had a display that measured 3.5 inches on the diagonal. The resolution hasn't been increased though, leaving you stuck with a paltry 320x480 pixels to stare forlornly at.
The screen is one area where the Ace 2 has been given preferential treatment, sporting a 3.8-inch display and a 480x800-pixel resolution.
More pixels makes a huge difference and means your photos, videos, on-screen icons and text look much sharper. I would think very carefully before buying any smart phone with a less-than-brilliant screen resolution.
Software and processor
The Ace Plus runs Android 2.3 Gingerbread. That's not the latest version, and I'd have loved to have see Samsung launch a mid-range mobile running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Sporting an older iteration of Google's mobile operating system is no travesty on a phone like this though. Opt for the Ace Plus and you'll get the benefits of Android, including the ability to customise your phone's home screens with widgets and download apps from Android Market. Handy.
The Ace Plus has a 1GHz processor thrumming away beneath its shiny shell. That's not an especially speedy chip. Although I didn't notice problematic lagging or stuttering while moving through menus during my hands-on time, this mobile would almost certainly struggle with graphically demanding games.
The Ace 2 alternatively has an 800MHz dual-core chip. I'll be interested to see how these two new Aces compare in our benchmark tests when we give them the full review treatment, and to learn whether there's any significant difference in performance.
The Ace Plus comes with 3GB of onboard memory, though you can expand that by popping in a microSD card if you need more space.
The Ace Plus is looking like a competent little mobile, though the low-resolution screen is a shame. You might be better off opting for the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 instead, provided it's not much more expensive, as that mobile has a bigger screen with a higher resolution. Stay tuned for reviews of both.
For more news, previews and hands-on video from Mobile World Congress, keep your browser aimed at mwc.cnet.co.uk.