A notable improvement on its predecessor on all fronts, the Samsung Galaxy Ace 2 is an impressive device that challenges a number of its more illustrious rivals and pushes the expectations of a sub £200 handset.

It is, however, not without flaws; most notably its lack of Google's Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. As we've noted, this is being skipped in favour of Android Jelly Bean soon, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't consider the fact you'll need to spend at least a short amount of time on an outdated OS.

We liked

With a sleek, stylish design that is closer to the build quality and appealing feel of the former market leading Samsung Galaxy S2 than the budget likes of the Galaxy Y, the Ace 2 impresses from the off with a curvaceous finish that leads the way to an impressive collection of features.

As the 800MHz dual-core processor runs the show with reality ease, the handset's inbuilt 5-megapixel camera is a surprising hit equally capable of producing high-end stills as it is impressive 720p HD video content. On top of this, the device is easy to use and intuitive to master.

We disliked

Although this ease of use is appealing, it is hard not to be disappointed in Samsung's decision to fill the Ace 2 with the now dated Android 2.3 OS. Although not a bad setup, the lack of ICS innards makes the device feel dated before it is in full flow, and you'll have to wait for Jelly Bean.

A largely impressive handset for the price, the Ace 2 could benefit from slightly speedier charge times and although microSD expansion is available, the internal storage capacity could be higher.

Verdict

A warning signal to its handset competitors, Samsung's reign of power is quickly moving away from the one-off flagship Galaxy S devices, with the Ace 2 firmly rooting itself as a mid-market challenger with a near budget price point that will appeal to many, and that price has become even more palatable with recent drops bringing it close to £150.

Not the most media savvy of devices on the market, the Ace 2 makes up for small niggles and limited features by mastering what it offers. Exceeding expectation on multiple fronts, the second-generation would be a wise buy for any first time or returning smartphone owner.

A big thanks to Three UK for sending us our review unit