The Samsung Galaxy S Advance does well to keep depth below a centimeter. The 9.7 mm slim handset weighs 120g, which is more than acceptable for a four-incher. Ergonomically curved, the Galaxy S Advanced is comfortable to hold and no hassle to carry around or slip inside a pocket.
The philosophy behind the Galaxy S Advance is simple. They didn't obviously want to waste money and time on a brand new styling. And although the mix of older and more recent designs could've backfired, the Galaxy S Advance works rather fine. Asymmetrically curved like the Galaxy Nexus, the phone looks good and is very nice to hold.
The curved back - resulting in subtly curved-in screen a la Galaxy Nexus - isn't just a self-serving design accent. The phone really feels heavier at the bottom than the top - making it very comfortable and secure to hold.
Looked up front, there's little to set it apart from the original Galaxy S. The Advance is just a tad more angular, which looks good. More like the Galaxy S II.
Under the display is the usual set of Android controls - capacitive Menu and Back keys and a physical Home button. The haptic-enabled touch buttons stay out of sight until you tap the screen. The Home key is wide and narrow, a little less comfortable to press than on the original Galaxy S. Above the display you'll find a 1.3MP secondary camera, proximity and ambient light sensors.
The S Advance is obviously smaller than the Galaxy S II and the Galaxy Nexus, though not as much as the difference in screen size may suggest. What's more important from a user's perspective is that four inches of Super AMOLED real estate come in a reasonably compact package.
We found the screen of the Galaxy S Advance to be a tad darker compared to other AMOLED units. It offers the same great contrast and deep blacks but is a bit low on brightness. Still it's a joy to work with outdoors.
|Display test||50% brightness||100% brightness|
|Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2||Black, cd/m2||White, cd/m2|
|Motorola RAZR XT910||0||215||∞||0||361||∞|
|Samsung Galaxy W I8150||0.29||243||853||0.50||423||853|
|HTC Sensation XE||0.23||172||761||0.64||484||752|
|Samsung I9070 Galaxy S Advance||0||185||∞||0||326||∞|
|Samsung I9103 Galaxy R||0.51||407||806||0.92||785||858|
|Samsung I9001 Galaxy S Plus||0||251||∞||0||408||∞|
|LG Optimus Black||0.127||332||1228||0.65||749||1161|
The right side of the phone holds the power/lock button. Samsung regulars should be used to that arrangement and the button has nice press feedback. The Galaxy S Advance has no shutter key, obviously taking after the original Galaxy S.
The volume keys are placed on the left side of the phone - sharing a single piece of plastic.
Because of the peculiar curve resulting in slimmer top, both ports are at the bottom. The microUSB port, used for both charging and data transfers, is right where it belongs, but the audio jack should've made more sense on top. The top of the Galaxy S Advance is completely bare for reasons already mentioned.
We liked the finely textured back. The delicate pattern has no grip-enhancing qualities, but looks like a nice, subtle way to get around glossy plastics. The downside it seems vulnerable to scratches.
Here at the back is where the 5 MP camera lens traditionally is, along with a loudspeaker grille and single LED flash that appears to be unexpectedly powerful. It lit up our studio way better than the iPhone 4S for example.
Undoing the plastic back panel reveals the phone's innards. The SIM card compartment and a hot-swappable microSD card slot are next to each other and there's a 1500 mAh Li-Ion battery inside. We didn't have time for a proper battery test but we hope we'd be able to get this sorted later on.
With phones closing in on smaller tablets in terms of screen size, the Galaxy S Advance is doing things the old-fashioned way but there's nothing wrong with a 4" diagonal in a comfortably compact package.
It's a solid phone, and good looking. Despite being mindful of budget, it feels very well put together, no alarming noises when handled. We don't mind the plastic build, the durability of the battery cover being one minor concern. With nothing groundbreaking on offer here, the phone does well to, at least visually, set itself apart from the numerous Galaxy S sequels. Now, it's up to the software bundle and the performance to build on a positive first impression.