Samsung Galaxy Ace hands-on

There may well be a mighty influx of super-powered smartphones inbound, with the LG Optimus 3D and Samsung's own Galaxy S II being particular highlights, but one area of the market that is about to expand even more rapidly has its roots firmly in the entry-level sector.

There's a big demand growing for "my first smartphone", and in the age of dual-core processing, super-sized AMOLED or Retina displays, and graphics chips that used to be confined to expensive laptops back in 2008, there are many of us out there that just won't be able to afford the latest tech, or maybe even understand it. And manufacturers and networks alike are loath to keep touting the same handsets they've had in stock for over a year.

Hence, the Samsung Galaxy Ace, and devices like it. It's Android (2.21 - Froyo+) it's got a 5-megapixel rear-facing camera with autofocus and LED flash, sports Bluetooth 2.1, Wi-Fi (802.11/b/g/n) and USB 2.0 connectivity, and offers access to a world of apps on Samsung Apps and Android Market, yet it will be available at an incredibly competitive price point.

Obviously, there are some sacrifices to keep it accessible. The processor runs as 800MHz, the 3.5-inch touchscreen is TFT-LCD and 480 x 320, and it's unlikely that the operating system will ever be upgraded to Gingerbread. But it runs Angry Birds, and surely that's the most important thing?

QuickType by Swype is resident from the off, as is the company's integrated Social Hub (email and networking all in the same place). Google Maps is pre-installed too, and the Galaxy Ace has GPS in-built.

There's also an FM radio, which is actually more than some other smartphones offer, regardless of status.

On-board memory amounts to 150MB - with a 2GB inbox - but can be expanded by a microSD card of up to 32GB, so plenty. And the whole kit and caboodle is dinky in the hand, measuringĀ 112.4 x 59.9 x 11.5 mm.

At Pocket-lint, we can certainly see this working, and it could mark the end of the traditional mobile phone. We'll be more decisive when we get to play with a full review sample shortly. Certainly, it won't be long as Three has announced that it will be available from the carrier later this month.