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Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 header
Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £175
inc VAT

The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 has its flaws, but its recent price drop makes it much better value than its budget 4G competitors


Processor: Dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400, Screen Size: 4.0in, Screen resolution: 480×800, Rear camera: 5-megapixels, Storage: 4GB / 8GB, Wireless data: 3G, 4G, Size: 121x63x10mm, Weight: 120g, Operating system: Android 4.2

Budget 4G smartphones are no longer the rarity they once were, but few are as cheap as the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3. The phone may have cost around £175 when it first launched last year, but now you can pick one up for under £100 SIM-free if you shop around. Contracts aren’t bad either, with 3G data plans starting at around £9.50 a month from Carphone Warehouse and 4G contracts starting at £15 a month for 500MB of data, 500 minutes and unlimited texts. 

Technically, the phone’s already been replaced by the Galaxy Ace 4, but Samsung’s actually downgraded many of its specifications rather than improve them in the interim, leaving the Ace 3 looking and feeling like the superior handset. Its 4in 480×800 resolution display is a little smaller, and has less detail, than even budget rivals such as the mighty Motorola Moto G, but its compact dimensions will certainly suit many phone users who are resisting the move towards bigger devices. The screen itself is pretty good for a device of its class. While not boasting the best brightness of phones we’ve tested, we found its colour accuracy to be acceptable and it performed fairly well in brightly lit conditions.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3

Strangely, there is no auto brightness setting on the Samsung Galaxy Ace 3. This means as you move from indoor to outdoor lighting conditions, you will have to adjust the screen brightness manually by pulling down the notification tray from the top of the screen. We tried third-party apps to add this to the phone, but to no avail as there simply isn’t an ambient light sensor. It’s an odd, and irritating, omission for a modern smartphone at this price.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 Android 4.2

The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 runs on heavily modified version Android 4.2.2 Jellybean. While Samsung’s TouchWiz user interface does divide opinion among consumers, the company has also included a number of unique software features which set it apart from the competition.

There are little options like Smart Alert, which vibrates the phone if you have missed notifications as soon as you pick it up, and a mono audio setting which is designed for the increasingly common practice of listening to music through a single earphone, or the mono speaker. There’s also a handy option which stops notifications from playing sounds when the screen is turned on. Then there are additions like Smart Stay, first seen on 2012’s Samsung Galaxy S3, which automatically dims the screen when the phone thinks you’re no longer looking at it. It works most of the time, but most of the time isn’t good enough, so we still usually turn it off.

The inclusion of NFC is handy for quickly pairing the device with similarly-equipped cameras and camcorders. We’re yet to see the spread of mobile-based payments in the UK, but we suppose they might finally take off within the lifetime of the handset

As usual with its smartphones, Samsung has included a selection of Samsung Hubs giving users the option of buying content like music, books and games from Samsung’s own stores instead of Google Play. We’re yet to find much use for these, but at least you can hide them from the app drawer if desired. There are no word processing or spreadsheet apps included as standard, so you will have to download your own from the Google Play store.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 Camera

The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3’s plastic shell houses a 5-megapixel camera with LED flash. It’s not a great camera by anyone’s standards – images lack detail and higher contrast snaps don’t look at all vibrant – but it performs well enough in good lighting conditions.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 Performance

The Galaxy Ace 3 is powered by a dual-core 1.2GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor backed up by 1GB of memory. Its performance is very impressive, beating most of the other smartphones in its price range. It achieved 1,261ms in the SunSpider Javascript benchmark, which is faster than the Motorola Moto G, and was able to produce 17fps in the challenging 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited benchmarking test. In real terms, this means the Galaxy Ace 3 is more than capable of running fairly advanced 3D games and loads web pages with relative ease. Browsing the web wasn’t quite as smooth as on the Alcatel One Touch Idol S, but it wasn’t far off.

Battery life was very good indeed; the Galaxy Ace 3 lasted 11 hours 46 minutes in our continuous video rundown test. This is an excellent result and puts it on a par with the more expensive, albeit more powerful devices such as the HTC One (M8) and Sony Xperia Z1 Compact.

The 4G version of the Galaxy Ace 3 comes with a reasonably generous 8GB of internal storage. However, those who have large music libraries or who like to watch TV and movies on their mobiles may need to invest in a microSD card; the Galaxy Ace 3 supports cards of up to 32GB in capacity.

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3

Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 brings good performance and excellent battery life to buyers on a budget. Its screen resolution may not be fantastic and some of its software additions are fairly superfluous, but now the price has come down, it’s a much better value handset than a lot of the competition. Better handsets are available, such as the 3G 2nd Gen Moto G and the 4G 1st Gen Moto G, but both still cost more on contract and SIM-free, making the Galaxy Ace 3 a much more viable choice for those on a budget. The phone may have its flaws, but right now it’s a great bargain. 




Main display size4.0in
Native resolution480×800
CCD effective megapixels5-megapixel
Internal memory8192MB
Memory card supportmicroSD
Memory card included0MB
Operating frequenciesGSM 850/900/1800/1900, 3G 850/900/2100, LTE 800/900/1800/2600


Operating systemAndroid
Microsoft Office compatibilitynone
FM Radioyes
Accessoriescharger, USB cable
Talk time8 hours
Standby time370 days

Buying Information

SIM-free price£175
Price on contract£13.99
Prepay price£180

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