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When it comes to any device running Android, you're going to find a certain level of customisation. The Samsung Galaxy Ace 3 is no exception.
Anybody who has used any Samsung device, whether running Android or not, will be instantly familiar. It's understandable that Samsung is keen to have uniformity across all its devices, as it builds a tighter ecosystem, and it will help convince users to make the jump to Tizen, when that arrives next year.
Not everyone will be a fan of the overlay, but it is very easy to use, and intuitive. It is also a lot closer to the native stock Android, as opposed to HTC's Sense 5.0. There is definitely no BlinkFeed to be seen.
On the hardware side of things, the Galaxy Ace 3 suffers a little. The dual-core 1.2GHz feels a little slow. On the whole, the handset chugged along nicely, but the Ace 3 stuttered enough times to demand comment. The quad-core power is noticeable on the HTC Desire 500.
Of course, though, every OS and UI should be intuitive. After all, what is a smartphone if it doesn't feel smart? Samsung has nailed this with TouchWiz, and every iteration takes it to the next step. The immediate comparison will always be to Sense, as it is the best known UI besides TouchWiz.
Something such as having quick settings in the Notifications bar as an example is a massive boost, to both usability and battery life. One key fault here, though, is the lack of any autobrightness feature, and it's hard to explain that omission.
There is access to both a quick settings page and Google's push to have a settings button via the notifications bar. On the Galaxy Ace 3, as with all Galaxy devices, it feels a little redundant.
Being Android Jelly Bean, the expandable and dismissable notifications are around, and this is an excellent feature. The top notification expands to show you more information, such as multiple messages from WhatsApp, or the ability to archive via Gmail.
Swiping left or right also allows you to remove the notification from view, meaning that you don't have that text or email sat there bugging you all day. Voicemail messages, as ever, are still sat there until you call them.
The App drawer has taken a quick lick of paint, differentiating from the stock drawer in some pretty handy ways. The ability to sort your application list by date, alphabetically in a grid or list, or even hide apps that you don't want on there, is greatly appreciated.
As ever, folder creation isn't possible within the app drawer, which is a tad frustrating. It seems needlessly difficult on the home screens too, as there is no drag and drop. This could be due to patent litigations, or the desire to avoid them, but it's still disappointing.
The Koreans have also had another look at the lock screen. Widgets are possible, although the use for them is unclear, as you need to swipe about to alternate lock screens. Having preferred apps there is far better.
You can also add text to the lock screen, with the idea being that you can put your details on, so if you lose your phone it can be returned.
The Android system is built very much around widgets, and that is continued on the Galaxy Ace 3. Widgets are accessed from a separate tab in the app drawer. A long press means you can drag and drop them to a home screen.
The most interesting are the assistive light (to turn your LED flash into a torch) and the clock. Just about every UI comes with a custom clock, and Samsung's is clean and effective, and fits in with the blockier nature of TouchWiz.
One particularly smart feature of Galaxy devices that makes a welcome reappearrance on the Galaxy Ace 3 is the smart suggestions when connecting headphones. It offers Music, Video, Phone, YouTube and Voice Recorder.
Samsung's UI remains impressive. The operation of the Galaxy Ace 3 is relatively smooth, although the dual-core processor struggled to keep up under a lot of strain.
TouchWiz still has its bright and attractive look. It will appeal to both new smartphone users and those who have used smartphones and Samsung devices before. Samsung has a history of good screens, and whilst the Super AMOLED technology isn't found on the Ace 3, the screen doesn't disappoint.
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