By CHONG JINN XIUNGbytz@thestar.com.my
This standard Android smartphone won't burn a hole in your pocket.
SAMSUNG'S flagship Galaxy S III Android smartphone may be the talk of the town but there are other handsets from the South Korean manufacturer that are worth taking a look at.
The Galaxy S Advance is one such model and sits in between the high-end and entry-level models.
You may not notice it at first but the glass display is actually curved so that it follows the shape of the user's face more naturally.
In typical Samsung fashion, the screen is a 4in Super AMOLED display that is bright, vibrant and sharp. It is even bright enough to be viewed outside in broad daylight.
The screen has a 480 x 800-pixel resolution. It's too bad that it is not HD but at least it uses the scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass display which is a step above most mid-range Android smartphones.
The default Android buttons are present at the bottom of the screen and two of them are the capacitive type.
With most smartphones, it's very easy to inadvertently press the capacitive button but that's not the case with the Advance which is great.
For a mid-range smartphone, the Advance has a zippy Cortex-A9 1GHz dual-core processor. It's not as fast as the quad-core processors in some Androids but it gets the job done.
We tried graphic-intensive games like Shadowgun and the performance wasn't as smooth as on the Galaxy S III but the frame rates were still acceptable.
Another disappointing aspect of the Advance is that it runs on the old Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) but Samsung's TouchWiz 4.0 glitzy interface makes it look fresh.
The built-in web browser has all the standard features and supports Flash. It's fairly fast at rendering webpages although it takes a while to load some Flash heavy sites.
The Advance's multimedia capabilities are pretty standard - the music player is basic and the video player accepts a variety of video formats including DivX, Xvid and H.264.
The speakers are impressively loud - you definitely won't have a problem hearing the phone ring even in a noisy area.
In terms of battery life, the Advance can last a day of calls, text messages and light surfing.
Photos and videos
The Advance's camera doesn't have the highest pixel count but it does a serviceable job as long as you snap photos when there is ample light.
However, the 5-megapixel camera sometimes underexposes images even when shot in bright daylight and the pictures can be lacking in contrast and brightness.
The LED flash isn't particularly powerful but it can light up subjects as long as they are close to the camera. Also, the Advance doesn't have some of the cool features of the Galaxy S III such as zero shutter lag.
There is also a second front-facing 1.3-megapixel camera which is mainly for making video calls and it worked without a hitch.
The camera also records 720p HD videos and the quality is average. This shouldn't come as a surprise considering that the Advance is a mid-range smartphone.
As with most camera phones the image will become wobbly (widely known as the jelly effect) if you pan the camera back and forth too fast.
The Advance is mainly hindered by an outdated operating system. It misses out on a lot of cool features offered by Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) as it runs on Gingerbread.
Samsung's TouchWiz interface makes up for it with a modern and snazzy look but it can only do so much.
Also, the Advance doesn't have cutting edge features but for RM1,099 you are getting a lot of features that matter.
Overall, it's a decent Android phone and one that's worth checking out if you feel at home with Android 2.3.
Pros: Nice screen; decent performance; TouchWiz 4.0 interface; loud speakers; affordable.
Cons: Runs on Android 2.3; camera could be better.
Galaxy S Advance
NETWORK: GSM 850/900/1800/1900, HSDPA 900/2100
OPERATING SYSTEM: Android 2.3
DISPLAY: 4in WVGA (480 x 800-pixels) Super AMOLED touchscreen
CAMERA: 5-megapixels with autofocus, LED flash; 720p HD video recording
CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, microUSB 2.0
PROCESSOR: Dual-core 1GHz Cortex-A9
EXPANSION SLOT: MicroSD
STANDBY/TALK TIME: 550 hours/7 hours
OTHER FEATURES: Web browser, panorama photo mode, video chat
DIMENSIONS (W x D x H): 123.2 x 63 x 9.7mm
Review unit courtesy of Samsung Electronics Malaysia (SME) Sdn Bhd, 1-800-88-9999