At the end of the review, we think we are ready to answer the two most important questions about the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 I8160. The first one's "Is it worth the asking price?" and it couldn't have been a more resolute "yes".
Indeed, the new Samsung mid-ranger offers so much for its modest price tag that it's hard to resist. A capable processor, a pretty decent screen, good build quality and above average media are things you wouldn't normally expect to find in a single device at this price point.
As we said, the ST-Ericsson chipsets are exactly the news that those after solid smartphone experience on a tight budget wanted to hear. One might argue that if you spend little on your phone you can't be a power user, but the extra core and the relatively new architecture make a huge difference no matter what you use your smartphone for.
This leads us to the second question and the fact we're about to ask it says much about how well Samsung have done with the Ace 2. It would hardly surprise you to hear that the Galaxy Ace 2 is excellent value for money but could it be the best bang for your buck?
At first glance the Sony Xperia U is the logical choice, for its slightly faster CPU and cooler curved design. The compact Sony smartphone will give you more power and character for less.
But before you think that the deal is sealed, you should know that there is a catch. The Xperia U has 6GB of user-accessible storage and there's no way of expanding that. This means that if you like to have your music and videos always at hand you might run into trouble.
The Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 on the other hand offers you a microSD card slot for all the storage you need and a larger screen, which is quite important for gaming and watching videos.
Overall, if the limited storage is of no consequence we'd go for the Xperia U (which should also get ICS next month). But anyone choosing with the head, not the heart, will probably look at the Galaxy Ace 2.
We shouldn't also forget the Xperia sola, which is Sony's direct competitor of the Galaxy Ace 2. It addresses the limited storage and the smaller screen issues, but doesn't look quite as good as the Xperia U and its highly promoted floating touch feature turned out to be pretty useless in real life. Still the sola costs the same as the Ace 2 and should give it a pretty good run for its money.
Of course there are other options in this price range, but it's hard to see anyone stealing too many customers from those three. The HTC One V, for example, costs just a few bucks more than the Ace 2 and offers superior looks plus Android ICS right out of the box, but it's let down by its chipset. It might seem like a solid option now, but in the long run the Samsung smartphone has it easily beat.
Then there's the LG Optimus L7, which would offer you a much larger 4.3" screen (of the same resolution though) and the ICS experience out of the box, but again fails to come anywhere near the Galaxy Ace 2's performance levels.
If you are willing to look beyond Android for your next smartphone, Samsung can treat you to some Super AMOLED WP goodness with the Omnia W. It was already confirmed that it won't get WP8, but smooth performance and a cooler-looking and consistent (if not nearly as functional) UI on a superior screen has its charm.
Overall, Samsung have a winner in the Galaxy Ace 2. This is a very meaningful upgrade over the original and ticks all the right boxes to get in the running for midranger of the year. Now it's up to Samsung to release the ICS update (and if we dare dream, Jelly Bean after that). Anyway, the moment it gets the Ice Cream Sandwich, there will be just the Xperia duo between it and its goal.