Review from 28/4/11
By Spencer Dalziel and Rosemary Hattersley
The Samsung Galaxy S II is the highly anticipated follow-up to last year's Samsung's Galaxy S Android smartphone. Updated, April 28 2011.
We awarded Samsung’s Galaxy S Android smartphone our Best Buy award when we reviewed it last year and it’s not hard to see why. A slim, lightweight and very nippy handset with an amazing superAMOLED screen, the distinctive-looking Galaxy S was one of the best Android mobiles of 2010 and one of the few serious rivals to the iPhone 4’s dominance.
The Samsung Galaxy S II is set to be another market leader. As well as being one of the very first Gingerbread Android 2.3 smartphones, it has a great screen, excellent build quality and slick performance.
For the S II, Samsung has completely redesigned the hardware, putting clear blue water between it and the original design (and subsequently adopted by Google for its own Nexus S Gingerbread 2.3 phone). The all-new Galaxy S II is quite angular. This enables it to accommodate a marginally larger 4.3in touchscreen (the original had a 4in display) but with no change to the 480x800-pixel resolution. The new model looks superficially similar to the HTC Incredible S, but is significantly lighter at a mere 116g.
The build quality, if anything, has been improved upon. It’s still a plastic chassis, but the handset now feels more rigid. Samsung has also upgraded the screen material to tough Gorilla Glass.
Usability and navigation are as joyous an experience as on the first Galaxy S. The hyper-real brightness of the screen is still a real wow and though the overall handset design is not as strikingly different as its forerunner, the S II’s 4.3in display feels far more expansive. The internal memory now comes in a choice of 16GB or 32GB capacities and there’s a faster dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor. The original Galaxy S’s 3Mp camera gets a mighty bump to 8Mp and there’s now support for 1080p video playback at 30 frames per second. It is quite simply a joy to use.
This already fast smartphone now feels even faster and we found it provided a near seamless navigation experience when flicking between apps, multi-tasking - even when we put it through data heavy tasks like streaming HD content. The phone is much more web savvy now it has Android 2.3 Gingerbread under the hood. This offers native Flash support and an updated version of Google Maps. As with all 2.x versions of Android, you can download and open from the Android Market.
The display is bereft of hardware buttons except the mini USB, power button, headphone and volume, putting the microSD slot inside. That helps the Samsung Galaxy S II keep its svelte and sleek while Samsung relies on two touch buttons with one context sensitive big button in between.
The Galaxy S II uses the same TouchWiz interface which kicks in on the very speedy boot up. This retains the same colour-coded touch buttons at the bottom with access to the most standard apps.
For navigating the web you can choose to the gyroscope sensor and accelerometer to enhance touch browsing. This felt a bit gimmicky. But we did love the excellent virtual qwerty keyboard, which is a easy to type on in landscape mode.
Next page: Our original preview of the Samsung Galaxy S II from February 2011, by PC World's Ginny Mies >>