I have been using a Samsung Galaxy S II as my primary smartphone for about two weeks now. It has been a pleasant experience. It is both the second dual core device and the the second 4.3-inch display device that I am reviewing.
The Galaxy S II In Summary
- Superb 4.3-inch display
- Lots of 3rd party apps from Android OS
- Needs to be charged several times daily
- Data consumption on the high side
The SuperAMOLED Plus display gives you vibrant colours. Everything looks good. It beats most of the competition. It beats the Nokia N9’s display too. The touch response is nice too. Those who think that there’s little difference between budget, mid-tier and top-end smartphones need to use a Galaxy Gio and then a Galaxy S II – there is a world of a difference in the displays both in terms of visuals, feel and responsiveness. No contest.
Size-wise though, the 4.3-inch display makes it easy to type while holding the phone in portrait mode. I hardly ever needed to switch to landscape mode. This was my experience too when I had the HTC HD7 months ago.
Trust me, give a 4.3-inch (or higher) display a chance, and you are likely to fall in love too.
Samsung Galaxy S2 Review: Operating System
The Galaxy S II unit here came with Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread on board. An update later and it was brought up to speed with version 2.3.5. There may be minor changes in the OS/UI, but nothing earth-shattering.
However, it must be mentioned that it added the ability to take screenshots without the need for a 3rd party app to the device. Nice. Long overdue.
Quick How to: hold down the Home button and immediately hit the Power button. It must be done fast enough so the display doesn’t return home from wherever you are. A little tricky at first, but you’ll get the hang of it.
Your screenshots are saved to a ScreenCapture folder on your device.
Gmail, email and Web browsing on the SGSII is standard Android fare – meaning that Gmail is stellar, while email and web browsing are good.
3rd Party Apps
With Gingerbread, you have the best of Android minus IceCreamSandwich (which is available on only one other device for now).
It is standard Android fare, and there is no need detailing all that Android does here. It does mean, for example, that using the S II gives you access to hundreds of thousands of applications in the Android Market.
There is a lot of trash in there, honestly, but there is next to nothing that you need that you cannot find there.
One of the favourite 3rd party apps on Android is the WordPress app. It is sleek and highly functional. The user experience is really lovely. I fell in love with it instantly.
Samsung Galaxy S2 Review: Performance
The SGSII is the first Dual Core smartphone that I am reviewing, as the Apple iPad 2 which I reviewed earlier isn’t a smartphone.
The SGSII runs on a Dual Core 1.2 GHz processor. You would expect super-quick responses, right? Wrong.
Don’t get me wrong. The responses are quick. But they are not super quick. I will explain.
Putting a 680 MHz processor E7 beside the SGSII and launching a number of apps from dormant state shows that the SGSII is marginally faster in most cases, and in some cases the apps take exactly the same time to launch. For the most part, you won’t notice the Dual core processor.
However, when push comes to shove – during heavier tasks like game play and video playback – you will bump into the power of the Dual Core processor of the SGSII. This was pretty much my experience with the iPad 2 as well.
Samsung Galaxy S2 Review: Multimedia
Music playback on the SGSII is loud and good, but not stellar. Compared to the Nokia 701, for example, it sounds boxy. I certainly prefer to listen to music on the 701.
Video playback is where the SGSII shines like a super star. Combine that 4.3-inch size with the SuperAMOLED Plus nature, with a wide range of video codec support, and I daresay that the SGSII is unmatched in the video playback department.
If I am to buy a smartphone for watching videos on the go, this is the one I want to have in my pocket. Of course, note that your battery will suffer even more.
The 8 megapixel camera is good. It is one of the finest I have seen, but you will have to wait for my 8 megapixel camera shootout for my conclusions on that. I pitched it against the Nokias N9 and 701.
Suffice to say though that I rate it better than the two Nokias in picture taking except for one nagging area – this camera takes an eternity to snap and get ready for another shot. You tap the on-screen shutter button, then wait a bit before its done and ready to go again. That has been very irritating for me.
Samsung Galaxy S2 Review: Conclusions
Like every other Android device on the market, you have to manage data and power consumption. There are a number of widgets and apps available in the Android Market to help you do that. But even at that, I found myself charging this beauty an average of 3-4 times a day. As a matter of fact, I consciously keep a charger on me every time. I hate that.
You can imagine that the beautiful 4.3-inch display doesn’t help with power consumption either. Like most things, its strength is also its Achilles’ heel.
The Samsung Galaxy S II is an outstanding smartphone. It does many things well and has few niggles.
It comes highly recommended. As always, its your prerogative to determine if you can live with its weaknesses.
PS: The SGSII costs between N80,000 and N85,000 in the market.