Phones were never a status symbol for me. In fact nothing is. I am an utilitarian, the kind who is always in the look out for paisa wasool (value for money). As someone pointed out in a tweet, that our earnings from inside air conditioned offices isn’t exactly pasine ki kamai (earned through sweat). But then it is mehnat ki (of hardwork) and I always want to extract the most, be it a lemon or a tube of toothpaste.

Since I never felt the need of a smartphone, never used one. But now when professional and personal compulsions force me to spend lesser time on the laptop and at the same time I cannot afford to remain in disconnect with what is happening in the world and at work, that triggered an urgent rethink of my mobile phone strategy. And the solution was obvious – Android. But the next question immediately came up, which device? Though the answer was easy enough, I had to convince my utilitarian mind.

A colleague at work had got a Samsung Galaxy Ace and I (as usual) had to teach her to explore the hidden wonders of the Android universe. I quite liked the phone for its features and the price combination (she had got it for about Rs 16,000 from Croma). The other phone I had in mind was the Motorola Defy. It’s a tough phone and I have a thing for tough phones. Even the specs are better compared to the Ace, but the price isn’t. It is atleast Rs 3,500-4,000 more expensive. And I had a budget constraint.

Somehow managed to convince the Chaiwali to let me buy a new phone, discarding the one she had gifted me ahead of our marriage (Married men, we have it tough. We even need to seek permission to buy a phone!). The deal was that, this blog, Cutting the Chai, had to pay for the phone. But the latest earnings from the blog amounted to only Rs 11,000. She upped it by Rs 4,000 arranging to get the year-and-a-half old Samsung Corby Pro sold. That left me with Rs 15,000 and I didn’t want to exceed it. And the Galaxy Ace GT-S5830 was undoubtedly the best bet.

WordPress app in Gamsung Galaxy Ace
WordPress app in Gamsung Galaxy Ace

My usual scepticism with electronic chains such as Reliance Digital, Croma, Ezone, Jumbo Electronics and the like was again affirmed. They don’t have the best prices. The friendly neighbourhood dealer gives the best deal. Though executives of the big chains will try to scare you with tall tales of second hand phones being sold as new and gory tales of batteries being replaced. I am not denying that such things never happen. They do. And most people are not in the business so that they can cheat the customers, they also have a reputation to build and maintain. Just ensure while taking the delivery that the packaging sealed and intact and refuse to accept it in any other condition. And always buy with the bill. You may pay a little more, but it is a lot safer. And in this age when we replace phones every year or so, extended warranties that the retail chains try so hard to sell, do not make much sense. Also I am dead against the so-called screen guards that they try to push in exchange of getting the price lessened. More on that in another later.

Now the price war is that while the big guys were selling the phone in the range of Rs 15,200-15,500, a bit of hard bargaining got the neighbourhood Samsung dealer to sell the Samsung Galaxy Ace GT-S5830 at a price of Rs 14,800, which was a cool Rs 400-700 lesser than others. Had got a similar deal on my LG LCD TV too. A neighbour from Shillong who is in town wanted to buy a laptop and had her eyes on a Sony Vaio, that Croma was selling for Rs 40,000 and they insisted that this was the best price available. A little drive to a nearby Sony store, saved her Rs 2,000. These big guys with their misleading marketing are out there to fleece us.

I go to these electronics megastores to survey, get an idea on the prices and buy only when the desired product is not available elsewhere. As a consumer I don’t want to be taken for a ride.

Coming back to the Samsung Galaxy Ace, its major drawback is the lack of a front camera. Though there is something that suspiciously looks like a front camera in some of Galaxy Ace Models, it unfortunately doesn’t seem to be one. It is the proximity sensor.

Here are the specs:

– Android 2.2 (Froyo)

– 800MHz (MSM7227-1 Turbo)

– WiFi 802.11 (b/g/n)
– Bluetooth technology v 2.1
– USB 2.0 (High Speed)

– 3.5″ 320×480 HVGA 16M TFT

– 112.4 x 59.9 x 11.5 mm (113g)

– 5.0 MP AF Camera with
– LED Flash
– Single Shot, Continuous Shot, Panorama Shot, Smile Shot

– 150MB + inbox 2GB + microSD (up to 32GB)
– 278MB RAM

– HSDPA 7.2Mbps 900/2100
– EDGE/GPRS 850/900/1800/1900

Download applications
– Android Market
– Samsung Apps

Social Hub
– Integrates SNS, Email,
– IM and Calendar Accounts
– Integrated Calendar
– (Google/Facebook/Outlook)

Integrated E-mail
– Gmail
– MS Exchange ActiveSync

TouchWiz UI for Android
– Multiple Homescreens
– Hybrid Widgets
– Search in Browser

Battery (Standard) Li-on
– 1,350mAh
– Talk time: up to 627min(2G),
– up to 387min(3G)
– Standby time: up to 642Hr(2G),
– up to 421Hr(3G)

– QVGA@20fps / WVGA@30fps
– Codec : MPEG4, H.263, H.264
– Format: 3gp(mp4)

– 3.5mm Ear Jack and Speaker
– MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+

Android Browser
– RSS reader


– Google Maps, Latitude, Places
– Google Maps Navigation(Beta)

– Accelerometer Sensor, Proximity Sensor, Digital Compass

Additional Features
– Quicktype by SWYPE
– ThinkFree (Document Viewer and Editor)
– AllShare
– Multi-touch zoom
– FM Radio (RDS)

And now the analysis:

Samsung Galaxy Ace GT-S5830 (with accessories)
Samsung Galaxy Ace GT-S5830 (with accessories)

The display is big and bright. It’s not the famed AMOLED, but itne paise mein itna hi milta hain (for this money, this is all you can get). The touch screen is sensitive and smooth to scroll and swipe (don’t kill the experience with a screen guard). It’s Gorilla Glass, tough and scratch resistant. Another reason why not to get a screen ‘protector’.

But this device is a battery guzzler. Be prepared to charge up daily. Though the 1.5Gz dual-core mobile processors are here, most people will not need that kind of power in their phones. 800Mhz is fine (Remember the time, when your desktop PC had lesser processing power?). While 512MB of RAM would’ve been great, 278MB isn’t that bad and I have run multiple applications at once without feeling any performance lag, yet.

I have never been a great fan of typing on touch screens, but phones with the physical keypad are, one, more expensive, and two, bulky. Getting used to typing on touch. The Swype keyboard is fun but will take most users a while to get used to. It’s lightweight and slim and comes with a stylish (faux) leather cover. The headset isn’t much to write about.

Upgrading to at least 8GB of external mempry (MicroSD) will be a good idea. As 2GB will get filled up sooner than later, depending on the number and kind of applications you use and the media you store in your phone.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace doesn’t natively support Flash, due to incompatible hardware (most budget and mid-range Android phones don’t) also it cannot play AVI, or DivX files on its own. But then there are apps in the Market that can help you do so.

In looks, I prefer the Motorola Defy, it has a personality of its own, while the Samsung Galaxy Ace’s front looks iPhone inspired.

The Galaxy Ace GT-S5830 comes with Android 2.2 (Froyo) out of the box and the good news is that it will soon be upgradeable to to Android 2.3 (Gingerbread). It also a comes with two interchangeable back covers, one black and one white.

And an Android can change your life. It has already caused a little marital discord in my household, with the Chaiwali accusing me of spending more time with the phone than with her.

Was thinking of typing out this post on the phone itself, but then phones have a long way to go before they can catch up with the comfort and speed of typing on a laptop/desktop.

The Samsung Galaxy Ace is the fifth mobile phone that I ever owned. My first phone was a Motorola T190. Had got it back in 2002 for Rs 4,000 from the money I earned doing an assignment for The Times of India. I have since ripped it apart in my efforts to take a closer look at the entrails of a mobile phone.

Here is a photo showing the evolution of the mobile phone (with me as the owner):

Evolution of my mobile phones
Evolution of my mobile phones

In the image above: From left to right – Motorola T190, (2003), Motorola C350e (2004), LG KG300 Dynamite (2007), Samsung Corby Pro B5310 (2010) and Samsung Galaxy Ace GT-S5830 (2011). ((The Motorola T190 has been photoshopped into the image)

My rating for the Samsung Galaxy Ace GT-S5830: 3.5/5.

Update (October 8, 2011): One tip that I have for any prospective Android owner. Do not ignore internal memory. Though the salesman will tell you that it can support up to 32GB of external memory, but some apps (including most apps from Google) will refuse to get installed anywhere but the internal memory. And 150MB doesn’t take too long to run out. I had to uninstall many apps to make space. Therefore, the higher the internal memory, the better it is.