Samsung Galaxy S II Review
- Excellent display, with vivid colours
- Very slim design, and amazingly lightweight
- Android never felt faster!
- Good camera
- Excellent battery life
- Plasticky build is a huge disappointment
- TouchWiz 4.0 UI isn't feature rich or polished like the HTC Sense
- Dependence on Kies desktop software is a painful iTunes-esque experience
What Samsung have managed to package together is a dual core processor, and a lot of other goodies in an unbelievably slim and light form factor. While the plasticky feel is a bit of a disappaointment, the performance on offer will simply blow you away. For anyone who does a lot of gaming on the smartphone, or want a powerful phone, the S II may just be phone for you. If you have Rs 32,890 to spend at this moment, we suggest you order it right away. This is slightly on the expensive side at the moment, and you may choose to wait and watch what happens with the prices in the next month or so. Alternatively, the LG Optimus 2X is also worth checking out, if you want a dual core powered phone which costs a bit less.
After the superb Galaxy S, Samsung has their job pretty much cut out, as far as making the successor is concerned. After having warmed up with the Nexus S smartphone (Read review here), Samsung were in form when it came to putting together the Samsung Galaxy S II. And no doubt they needed to be in top form, since the Galaxy S II is one of the very first dual core processor powered smartphones, and needs to compete with the dual core phone from the Korean rivals, LG the Optimus 2X. We were impressed with the performance offered by the Optimus 2X (Read review here), but felt that it was a little understated in terms of the punch offered by the dual core processor, and it felt big and heavy to hold, use and carry. While we know it’s a dual core, but it feels like an HTC Incredible S (Read review here) or the Samsung Nexus S (Read review here), in most usage scenarios.
The LG Optimus 2X offered a lot of power, but it seemed hidden most of the time! Which is why we were looking forward to seeing how the slightly more power will respond on the Galaxy S II.
Look and feel: Surprisingly slim, unbelievably light.
Admittedly, the Samsung Galaxy S II surprised us with its extremely slim form factor and the fact that it is the lightest of all Android smartphones we have tested recently, albeit by quite a margin. The likes of the Samsung Google Nexus S and the HTC Incredible S are heavier by quite some margin. However, let us not forget that the HTC Incredible S did have a stronger body, and so did the Google Nexus S. No wonder the S II has even piped the extremely sleek Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc by 1 gram!
Below the four-inch display are two touch keys- menu and return, and a hardware button- home. The traditional search button we had seen on Android phones is missing in this one. The left panel has the volume rocker, while the right panel has the power button. The top panel has the 3.5mm headphone jack only, since the power button that is usually placed here is now on the side. The bottom panel has the micro USB port. The entire front panel has a glossy finish to it, which does catch quite a few fingerprints. The rear panel has the 8MP camera, with LED flash. Below the battery bay cover is the tiny speaker. But please do not be fooled by the size of this one! Speaking of the battery cover, this piece of plastic has a self-imprint design on it. The nails will come into practice every time you wish to pry out this cover, and there is a sense of disappointment while doing that. Despite spending more than Rs 30k on a smartphone, you will be opening the cover the way it is done on most Chinese budget phones. We would have loved to see an HTC Incredible-esque rubberized back panel, or something with a metal finish, but looking at it from Samsung’s perspective, keeping the weight down was a priority. However, if you change sim-cards often, this cover doesn’t feel like it will last very long.
Features: Loaded, and then some.
Display- brilliance personified.
The 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display (480x800 resolution) is an absolute delight. Switch it on, and the first thing to grab your attention will be the vivid colours jumping out at you. Colours are not affected by gradation and the black colours feel actually black, and not like dark grays, as on certain displays. Good brightness levels offered by this Super AMOLED Plus. We feel that in most cases, setting the brightness at about 30% to 40% is more than enough, both indoor as well as in sunlight. Indoors, we felt that even the display set at 0% brightness offers excellent visibility!
In the settings menu is the option to set the colour vibrancy levels of the background- Dynamic, Standard and Movie. While the best colours are offered by Standard setting, the Dynamic setting, in our opinion, made the colours too bright. The Movie setting makes the colours warm, and the whites become pale. This one is, however, the easiest on the eyes, since the colours aren’t very sharp in this setting.
Interface- extremely disappointing
The first thing you will probably notice about this interface is the lock screen. Swipe it in any direction to unlock the screen. If you get any calls or messages when the screen is locked, there will be a distinct notification. What’s new, you’ll say? Well, if you receive an SMS, and you click on the notification on the lock screen, you will be taken straight to the message. Same for missed calls too. Pretty nifty and time saving feature.
TouchWiz UI 4.0 is just a sad sad disappointment. Agreed that the HTC Sense does slow down the phone a bit, but it looks superb. What we were hoping for, and what logically should have been the way forward, was to take the Sense UI as a benchmark, and make the UI more optimized for the phone, more than the HTC Sense. The fact of the matter is that the TouchWiz UI, now in its 4.0 avatar looks very similar to the previous gen TouchWiz 3.0 version. The additional widgets are another thing (and they look good as well- most of them), but the icons and the overall style remains the same. It is starting to look a little outdated and boring.
The Galaxy S II comes with Android 2.3.3 version preloaded. The Android menu works horizontally on this one, and not vertically. Weirdly, we could not check for updates for the phone software without actually a Gmail ID to the phone. That isn’t the case with other phones. This is a requirement that is probably written into the ROM.
Read on to know about the performance, and our verdict of the Samsung Galaxy S II...
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