Samsung Galaxy S 2 review
The Samsung Galaxy S II is one of the most hotly anticipated Android smartphones of the year. Does this dual-core phone live up to its expectations? Find out in our full review.
There used to be a time when HTC led the way for Android based smartphones. But the company’s crown appears to be slipping. Not because HTC is doing a lot wrong, but because some of the competition has decided to play a serious game. Samsung is in that group, and the new Galaxy S II sets the new standard for others to beat.
Before you even switch it on the Samsung Galaxy S II looks like a winner. Extremely thin at 8.49mm it is quite a size at 125.3 x 66.1mm. It has to be in order to house its 4.3 inch screen. Yet it weighs a very pocket friendly 116g. If we have a niggle about the build it is that the backplate, which doesn’t quite stretch across the full back of the handset, is flimsy – and fiddly to get on and off.
There’s a camera with a massive 2 megapixel rating above the screen, while below it there’s a button which looks like it ought to be an optical trackpad but which in fact just a Home button. It is only when the screen is in use that two touch buttons, Menu and Back become visible. There’s no Search button – instead you use an on-screen search tool.
The screen is fabulous. Super Amoled Plus makes it sharp, clear and bright, while its 800 x 480 pixels ensure there’s no pixilation. At this end of the market we’d have liked a groundbreaking high screen resolution, but in use we had no real complaints. The screen is, of course, capacitive, and response to screen taps is super fast. You get the feeling that animations, fades in and out, and so on are only holding back the 1.2GHz Samsung Dual Core processor.
That processor is at the forefront of a host of dual core offerings that will soon pepper the top end of the smartphone sector, and it quite simply whizzes along. Video streamed from the BBC web site and other sources plays beautifully well, while the sound quality and volume through the loudspeaker are superb. You really could watch catch up TV on the Samsung Galaxy S II with ease.
There’s 12GB of internal storage to fill with media, and apps, and a microSD card slot for adding more storage. Our review sample, from Clove, is advertised as having 16GB of storage – the remainder supplied by microSD card. One of the few faults we could find with the Samsung Galaxy S II is that the card slot is under the backplate and you have to remove the battery to get to it.
There’s an odd zooming procedure which involves holding the screen at two points then tilting back and forth. We prefer the also present pinch to zoom, and you can easily turn the tilt zooming feature off if you don’t like it.
Samsung’s newly updated TouchWiz 4 skin for Android 2.3 is a fairly user friendly affair, and with seven home screens on offer to pepper with (sometimes resizeable) widgets and shortcuts you aren’t going to feel short of surface area to customise. There are ‘hubs’ which bring together data in a theme (readers, music, game, social), and pull down the notifications bar for shortcuts for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, sound and a screen rotation toggle – so you can turn off the auto rotate if it is not wanted in any particular instance.
An 8 megapixel camera sits on the back of the chassis, with an LED flash. It is capable of 1080p video recording at 30 frames a second. DLNA and HDMI (via the micro USB port on the bottom of the chassis), are both supported.
To keep the handset running a 1650mAh battery provides power. That’s rated higher than any we’ve seen so far, but still it did not quite manage a full day’s usage for us. Par for the smartphone course.
Price: £528 SIM-free (from www.clove.co.uk)
Value for Money: 8/10
Overall score: 9/10
Written by Sandra Vogel.
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