Samsung Galaxy S II Smartphone Review

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Samsung's Galaxy S II was first introduced to the world at Mobile World Congress 2011, and despite the fact that quite a few smartphones have shipped in the months between then and now, Samsung's top-tier smartphone remains a favorite across the globe. In fact, it hasn't even shipped to America yet. With a potent dual-core 1.2GHz processor, 16GB of internal storage, a full gigabyte of RAM and the latest version of Android (2.3 aka Gingerbread), it stands as a powerhouse to compete with other top tier handsets.

There aren't any gimmicks here. No 3D. No qHD display, and no extra fancy design construction. What is here, however, is a powerful smartphone with a shockingly slim body, a lightweight design, true 1080p out via the micro-USB port and a subtle Android overlay (TouchWiz 4.0). And the 4.3" Super AMOLED Plus, while WVGA, is the display to beat in terms of image quality. What's interesting is how the Galaxy S II stands out in a sea of rivals.  There's never been more competition in the Android smartphone universe, and it really takes a lot to cut through at this point.


In addition to Android 2.3, Samsung includes the latest version of its TouchWiz user interface. It's a subtle overlay that isn't nearly as intrusive as Motorola's BLUR or HTC's Sense, and fans of stock Android will likely be pleased at the minor changes that are implemented.

Make no mistake: this phone is a high-end device aimed at those willing to pay top dollar for the best in performance. As of now, this phone isn't even offered by a U.S. carrier or retailer. The only way to acquire one is to have it imported; the Latin American build (i9100) supports AT&T's 3G bands, and that's the one to grab if you want to snag one right now in unlocked form. There's a build out there for T-Mobile bands as well; you just need to take caution to purchase the one with the frequency bands that fit your carrier. NewEgg and Negri Electronics both offer the phone, but at upwards of $650, it's an investment you should think long and hard about. That said, the unlocked phone will likely have a few design cues that'll set it apart from subsidized versions that should come to U.S. carriers within the month.

We'll discuss those, as well as our opinions on the overall performance and usability, in the pages to come. For now, let's take a look at the raw specifications breakdown:

Samsung Galaxy S II Smartphone
Specifications & Features
Processor and emory
1.2 GHz ARMv7-based dual-core applications processor
16GB Internal memory
1GB RAM
No microSD card included; supports up to 32GB

Operating System
Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) and the latest version of TouchWiz (v4.0)
Connectivity
HSPA+ 21Mbps/ HSUPA 5.76Mbps
EDGE/ GPRS Class 12
Quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900
Quad band UMTS 850/900/1900/2100
Wi-Fi – 802.11 a/b/g/n
Bluetooth 3.0+HS
GPS/AGPS
micro-USB

Display
4.3 inch WVGA Super AMOLED Plus resolution display
Size and weight
125.3mm x 66.1mm x 8.49mm
 4 ounces

Cameras and multimedia
2 megapixel front-facing camera
8 megapixel rear-facing camera with LED flash
3.5mm stereo headset jack

Additional Features
3G Mobile Hotspot capability, supporting up to five Wi-Fi enabled devices simultaneously
Simultaneous voice and data capability

Battery
1650 mAh Lithium-ion battery
Carrier
None; Unlocked versions support T-Mobile and AT&T
In-Box Content
Galaxy S II
Standard Li-Ion Battery
AC USB Charger
Getting Started Guides
Information Booklet
Wireless Recycling Envelope

Price
$672.99 off-contract and unlocked

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Nice review, and a darn nice phone.

Your statement: "the champ today may not be the champ tomorrow" is so true, but one could wait forever in anticipation of the next, big, new thing coming down the pipes. (the same goes for computer parts)

This phone is obviously good enough in many ways, and when a carrier finally offers it at a reduced price, it will be compelling.

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Thanks again for the review I was waiting on Ray and Marco. Big Smile

Do you have the battery life for the Captivate so I could compare? I am assuming the Galaxy S 2 is much better.

I like the picture of the "zero gravity" chair in the backyard I own one myself it was nice to see i'm sure your back thanks you.

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It's a Super AMOLED _Plus_ display meaning they got rid of Pentile. To make room for a proper RGB matrix they also had to increase the screen size from 4" to 4.3" so there's absolutely no room for qHD.

The home button is nice BUT it also brings a very weak point to the glass (the glass is cut out to make room for the button). I had my SGS1 crack from the Home button from a hit that was so small that I didn't even bother checking if anything damaging happened. So I've searched a lot on the net about cracked on SGS1 to find the best way to go about. Basically all cracks that I read about started from the Home screen. The problem is that whole front is one whole piece...so first of all the glass is one big piece so if you crack it at the home button you'll most likely get the crack going through the screen itself. Secondly since it's all one piece you have to replace it all and that's about 1/3rd to half of the cost of the display.

For those with a SGS1, I can tell you the difference between the 1st and 2nd is huge. I was expecting a difference but not this much. This goes for the speed and the screen going from Pentile to RGB. The only downside is that very little things make use of this phone. I think the only thing would be running Tegra 2 games with Chainfire or emulating PS1 games.

One thing missing in this article is mentioning that this phone actually has TV out capabilities and 1080p for that matter. It has the MHL chip so you can plug in a cable to the micro-USB and it will change to TV-out.

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Schmich, good insight there. Thanks!

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my lowest linpack multi-theard score is 79.597.,highest is 89.289.

And my device is stock, just cleared the RAM b4 running the test.

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ALau, thanks for your feedback. We've actually seen some variability with our Linpack scores and are updating the article now.

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I read this review and now I cant help but think, Man, i want this device haha. Excellent review!! Really enjoyed going through it.

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Thanks for the great review Ray!! I've been drooling over this phone since it was announced and have been "patiently" waiting for one! Should be a good phone, looking forward to the release and picking one up. Now you just need to compare this bad boy to the bionic to see which one is a better buy, I vote gsII but the bionic should be a beast as well.

Oh and word on the street is that it will be released through multiple US providers on August 29th.

http://www.engadget.com/2011/08/12/samsung-plans-august-29th-mobile-launch-galaxy-s-ii-finally-l/

oh and has anyone heard pricing with contract rumors?? Hopefully it's not 299 like the charge....gross! And if all carriers will have the same version? Hopefully they don't change the look and feel too much if they do at all.

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Really nice phone, i must say.

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I agree.  I had mine since August and really liked it.  The only drawback was the audio chipset they used (especially when compared to the original Galaxy S).  

Performance was great, the camera was awesome, and I never had a problem with it.  Only reason I'm not still using it is a friend wanted to buy it off me as their phone died, so I decided to pick up the Galaxy Nexus.  Not quite as good as the S II, but I still like it so far.

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