The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos builds on the Galaxy Y Duos but tries to keep within budget. Here it is at a glance:
Dual-SIM, calls received on both cards, simultaneous calls and data
Quad-Band GSM (both SIMs) and dual-band 3G support (only one SIM at a time)
7.2 Mbps HSDPA
3.5" 256K-color HVGA TFT touchscreen
ARMv6 832MHz processor, 512MB RAM
Android OS v2.3 (Gingerbread) with TouchWiz v3.0 UI
3GB internal storage, hot-swappable MicroSD slot
5 MP auto-focus camera with VGA videos @ 30fps
GPS receiver with A-GPS
Stereo FM radio with RDS
3.5mm audio jack
Accelerometer and proximity sensor
Swype text input
Stereo Bluetooth 3.0
Good audio quality
Sub-par ARMv6 CPU limits performance and choice of apps
No hardware shutter key, no flash
No secondary video-call camera
No HD video recording
Abysmal video codec support
A look at the spec sheet tells us that the Ace Duos is marketed towards a budget-minded crowd. It looks to convert yet more of those die-hard featurephone enthusiasts into the smartphone game, with a device that provides the functionality they're used to (in this case, two SIM cards simultaneously), without the monetary burden of a premium device.
Gingerbread with TouchWiz topping
The Galaxy Ace Duos S6802 runs on the rather outdated Android Gingerbread 2.3.6 and has Samsung's custom TouchWiz launcher. The Broadcom processor is clocked at 832 MHz, and there's 512 MB of RAM onboard.
While this is a common range among most Samsung droids in the lower end of the spectrum, Samsung usually opt for a CPU of the Scorpion variety. And with ample reason - the Broadcom BCM21553 has a noticeably difficult time keeping up with what you're trying to do.Perhaps this is due to the extra manufacturing costs imposed by the additional SIM card, but it seems that Samsung have opted for a cheaper processor to keep the price low, and this has cost them in terms of performance.
You can see for yourself in our brief video of the device in action:The lockscreen of the Ace Duos has the usual integration of missed events with shortcuts to the relevant apps. Missed calls and incoming texts are displayed but not emails. The lockscreen can be removed by swiping in any direction. Pressing the power/lock button brings up the lockscreen in about 2-3 seconds, taking so long as to make you unsure of whether or not you've pressed it, which can get aggravating
The standard Gingerbread lockscreenThe homescreen accommodates tons of widgets with lots of functionality. You can have up to 7 homescreen panes, each identified by numbered dots which appear when side-scrolling. A pinch on the homescreen zooms out to an aggregate view of all active panes, which can then be rearranged, deleted or added.Widgets, shortcuts or folders are added by a press and hold on an empty spot on the homescreen, or by hitting on the contextual menu key and selecting the Add option. Here, you can select which of the above categories to add via onscreen menus. No widget previews are given, and you cannot resize widgets either.
The Galaxy Ace Duos homescreen • Editing the homescreens • Adding widgets
The app launcher lets you rearrange apps however you like, but you cannot filter by downloaded apps or favorites, and there's no list view. You cannot create additional folders or pages either.
The app launcher • Rearranging an app
There are four shortcuts docked at the bottom of the screen that are visible from both the homescreen and the app launcher. From left to right they are Phone, Contacts, Messaging and Applications. A press and hold lets you drag any of them to the homescreen.The task switcher on the Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos is launched by a long press of the Home key. It has a shortcut to a custom task manager, which not only lets you kill apps one-by-one and in bulk, but offers plenty of stats on installations, RAM usage and storage.The Task Manager comes with a handy Program Monitor widget, which shows you the number of active applications right on the homescreen.
The Android task manager
Most of the time, Android does really well when it comes to managing apps by itself (in fact, some claim that using a task manager is detrimental to the performance of a phone), so you should only need the task manager to occasionally kill a buggy app.
The phonebook has a wide range of features and practically unlimited storage capacity.There are options to filter contacts that have phone numbers, show/hide some of the groups you've created (including groups from social networks) and change the sorting (by first or last name).
The Galaxy Ace Duos phonebook
The phonebook has the Quick contacts feature, which lets you tap the contact photo for a popup menu with shortcuts to call, text, or email. The TouchWiz-specific swiping gesture is here too - swipe a contact right to make a call and left to compose a message.
Quick contacts • Swiping is a neat gesture for calling and texting
There are many info fields that you can assign to each contact, but it still remains perfectly organized. You have all types listed (numbers, email addresses, etc) and there's a plus sign on the right to add another item of that type. Pressing the minus sign under it deletes the unneeded field.
Editing a contact's details
Of course, the real flexibility of the phonebook becomes apparent when you sign in to your Facebook or LinkedIn account. After syncing, the phonebook will automatically merge your contacts (you can do it manually too).The contact info screen is tabbed. The first two tabs are pretty standard - one displays the person's contact information, while the other stores call and message history. The third and fourth tabs handle the social stuff - status updates and the contact's online galleries.
Viewing a contact's details
Dual-SIM calling and dialing
The Samsung Galaxy S6802 Ace Duos has a dedicated SIM Manager to configure how calls and data are handled on both cards. SIM cards on the Ace Duos are not hot-swappable, both slots located underneath the battery, so you have to turn the device off in order to add or remove them.Whenever you add a new SIM card and power the device on, an interface pops up allowing you to rename and even change the icon of any SIM card to more easily identify them. This interface can be accessed at any time from the settings menu.The Ace Duos remembers the settings for any SIM you customize, which is great if you've got more than two SIM cards.
SIM cards can customized for easy identification
The Ace Duos allows for both SIM cards to be active simultaneously, meaning that you can receive a call on one SIM even while you are on a call with the other. What happens is that calls from your other SIM are forwarded to your currently active SIM's network, which you can put on hold to answer (this might incur additional network charges). You can put the two calls on and off hold as you please.
You can toggle the Dual SIM Always On option on or off for either SIM card. Effectively, this enables call waiting and call forwarding so you can switch each SIM card on and off individually (which can help save battery).You can also pick which SIM is to be used for mobile data - only one can be used at a time. Another option is whether or not the phone should be able to receive calls on the other SIM while using mobile data on one SIM.The notification area is involved in SIM management too. Underneath the quick system toggles, there are big buttons labeled SIM 1 and SIM 2, for quick switching between cards before dialing a number. During a call, the active SIM gets displayed at the top of the call interface.
Both SIMs can be active simultaneously • The call interface
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos had no issues with reception even in areas with poor coverage. Sound in the earpiece was crisp and fairly loud.Smart Dialing is available and whenever you tap a digit and both contact numbers and names containing it are displayed. The catch is that name searching works with only the initial letter.
On the other hand, number searching looks up recent calls too. If more than one contact is found, a button with a number and an arrow will display the rest of the matches.With no proximity sensor on the Ace Duos, the screen locks itself a couple of seconds into a call and unlocks upon a double tap so you can access the onscreen options. The available options during a call include using the keypad, muting the call, or adding another call to the conversation.
Smart dial searches only by number
The Call log is the tab next to the dial pad. It displays all the dialed, received and missed calls in one list. A tiny icon identifies the SIM that made or received the call.
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos has one of the quietest loudspeakers we've tested, scoring Below Average in our traditional loudspeaker test. Here's how it stacks up against the competition.
||Pink noise/ Music, dB
||Ringing phone, dB
|Nokia Lumia 800
|Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos
|Apple iPhone 4
|Samsung I9000 Galaxy S
|Samsung S8600 Wave 3
|Samsung Galaxy W I8150
|Samsung S5570 Galaxy Mini
Messaging and email
The messaging interface is quite straightforward: there are no folders here, just a new message button. Under that button is a list of all your messages organized into threads.Swiping on a message header will do exactly the same as in the phonebook - a left swipe starts a new message, while swiping to the right will start a call.
The Galaxy Ace Duos messaging mode and swipe functions
There's application-specific search that lets you quickly locate a message among all your stored SMS and MMS.When you add multimedia content to the message, it automatically turns into an MMS. You can either quickly add a photo or an audio file to go with the text, or compose an MMS using all the available features (like multiple slides, slide timing, layout, etc.). The multiple slides are all shown inside the compose box.
Adding any multimedia content automatically turns an SMS into an MMS
Moving on to email, the Gmail app supports batch operations, which allows multiple emails to be archived, labeled or deleted. Multiple Gmail accounts are also supported.
The Gmail interface
There is also a generic email app for all your other email accounts and it can support multiple POP or IMAP inboxes. You have access to the original folders that are created online, side by side with the standard local ones such as inbox, drafts and sent items.It offers a combined inbox option, which color-codes emails from different accounts for easier sorting and viewing. Conversation layout is also available - it groups related emails into single entries with a number in parenthesis showing the number of emails grouped. A tap on that entry expands it to show a list of the individual messages.
The standard email app is easy to set up
Google Talk handles Instant Messaging. The G-Talk network is compatible with a variety of popular clients like Pidgin, Kopete, iChat and Ovi Contacts.As far as text entry goes, you have the standard Samsung keyboard at your disposal, as well as XT9. Both are fairly comfortable, although the keys might feel a little cramped in portrait. The landscape keyboard should be good enough. There's handwriting recognition and Swype support as well.
Samsung Android keyboard
Slick gallery and file browser, but no real image editing
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos S8602 uses a slightly dumbed-down version of the standard Android gallery, as it does not include an edit feature. The gallery automatically locates the images and videos no matter where they are stored. It can even import the online photos from your Google Picasa web albums.
The standard Android gallery
Little about the Gallery should surprise you. It displays full resolution images and supports double tap and pinch zoom. Sharing images over Bluetooth, email and MMS are enabled, and so is uploading to Picasa.
The Gallery offers almost no editing options
The My Files app is a simple to use but efficient file manager. It can move, copy, lock and rename files in bulk, even send multiple files via Bluetooth. My Files will only browse the memory card and the large internal storage (it can't access the system drive).
The My Files app
TouchWiz music player
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos uses the standard TouchWiz music player. Samsung have enabled equalizer presets (including a custom one) along with the sound-enhancing DNSe technology and 5.1 channel virtualization.By default, tracks are sorted into four categories - All, Playlists, Albums and Artists. From the settings, you can add or remove categories to set up the music player just the way you like it.
The music player is great • The DNSe settings • A now-playing interface in the taskbar
The album art has a central place in the Now Playing interface, but you can replace it with an equalizer. You can skip songs by sideways swipes, and there's an onscreen scrubber and volume slider.Another nice feature allows you to quickly look up a song on YouTube or via Google search. The handset also prompts you to select whether to look up the artist, the song title or the album.
The Now playing interface
FM radio with RDS
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos is equipped with an FM radio with RDS. The interface is simple - there's a tuning dial and you can save as many as 4 stations as favorites. You can also play on the loudspeaker, but the headset still needs to be plugged in to act as an antenna.
The FM radio app
Abysmal video codec support
Video playback is another area where the Broadcom processor lets us down. The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos does not come with a dedicated video player application. Instead, to play video files, you have to browse them either from the My Files app or the gallery.The player can handle pretty much only MP4 files, and not all types, either.
There's no DivX/XviD support and HD video is, of course, out of the question. Sadly though, so are WVGA videos so you might need to do quite a lot of converting on your computer if you are to watch videos on your Ace Duos .The video player seemed to only work with AAC audio and refused to play files containing audio in other formats.The video player interface itself is as simple and as it could possibly be - there almost isn't one.
The on-screen controls boil down to play/pause and skip buttons as well as a scrollable progress bar. Oddly enough, there's a video trimmer that is surprisingly functional. We only wish Samsung had added some codec support to go along with it.
The Video player and trimmer
Great audio output
Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos S6802 did really well in our audio quality test. The smartphone was nearly perfect with an active external amplifier and quite good when a pair of headphones was plugged in. An active external amplifier lets the Galaxy Ace Duos show its full potential and achieve some excellent scores. It's only averagely loud, but that's just the only bad thing we can say about it here. The degradation when headphones come into play consists of a minor hike in stereo crosstalk, and some extra intermodulation distortion. We'd call this a solid performance on far more expensive smartphones, but here it's even more imrpessive.
Decent 5MP camera
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos comes with a 5MP camera and is able to capture photos at a maximum resolution of 2560 x 1920 pixels. The lack of an actual shutter key is a clear sign that photography isn't taken too seriously.The camera interface looks familiar with two shortcut bars on each side of the viewfinder. On the right you get the still camera / camcorder switch, virtual shutter key and the gallery shortcut (which is a thumbnail of the last photo taken).
The camera interface
On the left you get the scene and shooting mode buttons, as well as the exposure slider and the settings button.The sample photos we took are well above average in quality. Images have impressively low noise levels, and while the dynamic range wasn't great, colors come out good (if a little faded) and there's plenty of detail.In certain situations where there was movement at medium range the image would get skewed slightly, but for the most part that was a rare occurrence.
Photo quality comparison
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos can be measured against other 5MP cameraphones in our Photo Compare Tool. The tool's page will give you enough info on how to use it and what to look for.
Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos in our Photo Compare Tool
VGA video recording is better than nothing
The video camera interface is identical to the still camera. You get the same customizable panel on the left with four shortcuts.
The video camera interface
According to Samsung, the Galaxy Ace Duos can shoot 640 x 480 video at 30fps in MP4 format. Our camera samples revealed that it hovers around 25fps. Either way, VGA quality is far from impressive these days, with more and more devices able to do 720p.The videos are smooth but the level of detail isn't impressive. Colors are okay and so is the focus in the video. The Ace Duos records mono sound with a bitrate of 96Kbps, and we found it to be a little quiet. Check out the sample we uploaded to YouTube:
Solid web browser, questionable speed
The interface of the Android web browser has hardly changed.
Browser supports both double tap and pinch zooming along with the two-finger tilt zoom. There are niceties such as multiple tabs, text reflow, and find on page and so on. A neat trick is to pinch zoom out beyond the minimum - that opens up the tabs view.
Page options and settings
Browser performance on the Ace Duos is not a very smooth ride. There's significant slowdown when loading pages, meaning that you have to wait until the entire page loads before you can effectively browse it. Flash content does not work.
The Social hub we've seen before - it combines your email accounts with social networking (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and shows all incoming messages in one list with handy shortcuts to reply, mark as favorite and so on. There's filtering by message source too, to help manage the inflow of incoming updates.
The Social HubThe Ace Duos also comes with the Google+ and Messenger preloaded, which can take care of all your Google+ needs.
The Ace Duos comes preloaded with Google+ integration
Standard organizational tools
The Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos comes with Quickoffice - a document viewer that can handle Word and Excel files, as well as PDFs and PowerPoint. Unfortunately, the version preinstalled is not the Pro version and document editing is disabled.
The Quickoffce suite
The calendar has four different types of view: list, daily, weekly and monthly. Adding a new event is quick and easy, and you can also set an alarm to act as a reminder.
The list view (often referred to as Agenda view) shows a list of all the calendar entries from the recent past to the near future. It's a very handy tool when you need to check your appointments for the next few days.There is also a calculator aboard. It is nicely touch optimized - the buttons are big enough and easy to hit. Turning the phone landscape reveals more advanced calculator functions.
Calculator • Advanced view
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos' Clock application can turn your device into a desk clock, from where you can set various alarms, each with their own start and repeat time. There is also a quick shortcut to the music player, as well as a slide show option.
The Clock app and the alarm options
The Memo app is pretty self-explanatory - it lets you create text memos, complete with SNS integration.You also get a Voice recorder to round off the organizer functionality.
The Memo app • The Voice recorder
Google Maps and GPS
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos managed to get a GPS lock in just under a minute without A-GPS. A-GPS can speed up the lock (but it involves data traffic). Cell-ID and Wi-Fi positioning are also available if all you need is a rough location, but they need a data connection too.Google Maps is a standard part of the Android package and we've covered it many times before. It offers voice-guided navigation in certain countries and falls back to a list of instructions elsewhere. You can plan routes, search for nearby POI and go into the always-cool Street View.
The latest version uses vector maps, which are very data efficient and easy to cache. The app will reroute you if you get off course, even without a data connection.3D buildings are shown for some of the bigger cities and you can use two-finger camera tilt and rotate to get a better view of the area.
Google Play Store and Samsung Apps market
The Samsung Galaxy Ace Duos has the latest version of the Google Play app store. The new name and icon aside there aren't major changes to the look and feel. In select countries, aside from apps you'll also find music, movies and books.Upon launch of the Market app you're greeted with the tiled interface of the Featured window. A swipe to the right takes you to the Categories view.Swiping to the left takes you through Top Paid, Top Free, Top Grossing, Top New Paid, Top New Free and Trending (the ones with growing popularity). New sections are available such as Staff Picks, Editor's Choice and more.
The Google Play Store Downloads are easy and won't take more than a couple of seconds. Before you agree to download an app, the Market will show you what features the app requires access to (e.g. Internet connectivity, access to the file system, etc.).
Installing an app
Samsung Apps works in much the same way; there's a featured interface which shows the more popular app highlights, as well as pages which display the newest and most downloaded applications.There's also the option to browse through app categories, and installing an app is done in exactly the same way as in the Play Store.
The Samsung Apps market
So, should you get a Samsung S6802 Galaxy Ace Duos? If you're looking for a device that offers dual-SIM capabilities and Android alongside a good camera, there aren't that many options. The thing to consider is worse performance in benchmarks than its predecessor from over a year ago. On the plus side, the Ace Duos offers an advanced dual-SM solution, complete with fast data.Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Duos isn't the fastest device around but it's targeting users with no basis for comparison. Anyone coming from a featurephone will be happy to keep discovering what their new smartphone can do for them. And it will already be time for you to upgrade by the time you discover that things can get done a lot faster, too.