Samsung has been making good graces with a number of successful devices lately, the latest of which is the Galaxy S III.
With the previously released member of the Galaxy family, the Galaxy S Advance, the brand launched a mid-end aircraft that looks promising. Images of this phone were already leaking out at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
Less hopeful than the special screen was the announcement that there might not be an update from Android 2.3 Gingerbread to Ice Cream Sandwich. This could be a disadvantage, because the device is already outdated at the moment you buy it. The Galaxy S Advance doesn't put itself very advantageous in the market compared to devices like (mention competitors). Or is it still worth it?
What's with the device?
The Galaxy S Advance comes in a neat rectangular box with a picture of the device on it. Besides the device itself, the box contains three leaflets, a charger, a USB cable, and a headset with audio jack adapter. The latter is especially striking because it is made in white, while the other accessories are black. There is nothing else striking about this content, it looks fine. The included battery has a capacity of 1500 mAh.
Although this is a mid-range device, the Galaxy S Advance certainly doesn't look cheap. This is partly due to the previously mentioned curved glass, which gives it an elegant appearance. In addition, the device is also fairly thin and the layout can be called minimalistic, with many smooth surfaces and only one physical button, which sits right under the screen.
All parts fit together nicely and the tailgate is made of plastic, but not cheap, which we still encounter sometimes. Below we find the SIM card, which is next to the battery. The end result is good to handle and is nice and light. A compliment on this part!
Above the large screen we find the camera lens and the proximity and light sensor. On the left side of the camera is the volume button, and on the right side is the power button, which you might initially look for at the top. Finally, at the bottom there are the ports for the headset and the charger/USB.
As said, there is only one 'real' button, but when the phone is switched on there are two luminous keys on either side, a menu key and a back key. So the control is kept as simple as the appearance of the phone.
We can't really report anything really conspicuous on this part. If you use the device intensively, you will have to leave it on every night, otherwise it will last a bit longer. To save energy, you can switch on the energy saving mode. You can decide for yourself at which battery level the phone will ring.
Here we have to be just as strict: the bell quality of the Galaxy S Advance could be much better. We often suffered from malfunctions and noise. The conversation partner was usually just barely audible, but the problem is that we encountered this before at Samsung. This is of course a bad thing.
In the call overview, it is noticeable that not only the telephone calls, but also the SMS messages are displayed. This makes it a bit confusing. There is, however, an immediate possibility to call back. The call overview is in the same app as contacts, favorites and buttons. But no matter how useful this is, it doesn't make up for the lack of call quality.
The spacious screen, with an excellent diagonal of 4.0 inches, offers everything you could wish for. It's said to be unbreakable due to the Gorilla Glass, and more importantly, it's razor sharp!
The Super AMOLED screen provides beautiful colors and black is not dark gray here, but real ink black. You can adjust the brightness, as well as auto-rotate, as well as time-out and backlight. In short, the screen looks great.
The menu initially consists of seven screens, the first of which is the home screen. This may be too many for many people, which is why you can adjust the number of screens as well. You move smoothly from screen to screen. At the bottom of each screen are the four most important widgets: phone, contacts, messages and applications. The others you can fill in as you like. All kinds of widgets are available: a calendar, different clocks, email and Google.
You can also put folders on the screens, or shortcuts. Convenient is that you can also place an app on a screen from within 'applications'. Furthermore, all screens have access to the drop bar where you can quickly control things like WiFi connection and sound. Here you can also see newly received calls, text messages or e-mails. But one shortcoming is not solved: the device does not have easy access to the browser, unless you place a widget yourself. In the overview, the many applications are placed in a four by four grid. It's strange that it's not in alphabetical order, whereas it is in the list view.
The menu is clear and easy to navigate, also because there are actually only a few buttons. It is recognizable and simple, especially for Android users. We haven't had to deal with crashes or other inconveniences.
It is rather awkward that the contacts of your Gmail and Facebook are mixed up, causing some of them to be called double. An icon indicates where the contact comes from, for example Gmail. However, in your phone book you can immediately view the information, history, activities that are indicated in your calendar and media (tagged photos and videos).
In the phone book you can store everything else: multiple phone numbers, photo, e-mail, groups, a personal ringtone, postal address and organization. Searching can be done by scrolling, but easier by typing in letters. By sliding to the left you send a message, and if you slide to the right you can immediately call the contact. This phonebook is user-friendly, but brings nothing new under the sun.
For social media you have to use the Social Hub. Twitter, Facebook and e-mail are integrated in this. So you can see at a glance what your friends are up to. It is good that Samsung has paid some attention to this.
On this part, the Samsung Galaxy S II actually functions the same as the Samsung Galaxy S II. Sending an SMS is fine: the keyboard is large enough and reacts well. There is an extensive dictionary, which you can of course easily complete yourself. Swyping - 'swipe' from one letter to another - is a handy, quick way to enter your message. You just have to get used to it, and then you don't want to do anything else. But if you prefer to stick with old-fashioned typing, then this is fine too.
We also have nothing to complain about the e-mail function. You can choose between Gmail or the standard e-mail app, which supports practically all accounts.
With the browser, the beautiful screen actually comes out best. The websites are shown razor-sharp, with bright colours. Zooming in and out is easy. It can be done by moving your fingers towards each other on the screen, but also by tilting the screen.
Furthermore, the browser is equipped with all standard applications: you can open multiple tabs and set favourites.
We were very positive about the Galaxy S II's camera earlier, and now we can only agree more. The Galaxy S Advance also has a very good camera. We will try to list the functionalities of the photo camera here. There is a flash with different possibilities, all kinds of scene modes (portrait, landscape, night, sports, party/indoor, beach/snow, sunset, dawn, autumn color, fireworks, text, candlelight, lighting), multiple photo modes (one shot, smile shot, panorama, action shot, cartoon, exposure value, autofocus), exposure value, focus, timer, effects (negative, greyscale, sepia), resolution (5M, 3.M, 2.4. M, 0.3 M), white balance, ISO, flash detection, GPS tag, metering, auto contrast).
But even without these gadgets, the camera gives very nice results. We took it with us to Paris, and as you can see, our holiday photos have become very beautiful. Just like the photo camera, the video camera gives great results.
Options include exposure, photo mode, timer, resolution, white balance, outdoor visibility and video quality. We didn't suffer any shocks and we were able to make great movies, which you can edit in a separate app. On this part the device scores very well.
We've already covered most of the programs present. We will leave the standard items out of consideration for a moment, but also a list of tasks, a mini diary, and especially the Hubs. These are apps developed by Samsung itself.
Our device was equipped with the Music Hub, the Social Hub and the Game Hub. The names actually say what these applications are for: Music Hub is a music store - which, however, does not stand up to comparison with iTunes - on Social Hub, as said, all social media are brought together, and Game Hub takes care of the games. There is a fourth version, Readers Hub, but it is missing here.
There are no standard games installed, but you can download them from the Game Hub.
If you ask the modern consumer what he or she expects from a mobile phone, a well-functioning browser will often be at the top of the list. The Samsung Galaxy S Advance certainly meets this requirement. The integration of the browser in the device is not optimal, but the component works fine, not in the least because of the great display. And that same screen does wonders for the video and photo camera.
Unfortunately, the poor call quality does something about that. Even though bubbles are disappearing more and more into the background, it remains important for a smartphone. The biggest hurdle for us is still the update to Ice Cream Sandwich, which might not happen. If that is the case, Samsung actually mows away the grass in front of its own feet. And that would be a pity, because the Galaxy S Advance has a lot to offer.