| Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 is almost impossibly thin when you pick it up – dimensions of 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5mm mean it's one of the thinnest smartphones on the market at the moment, rivalling the likes of the iPhone 4 and Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc for the title.
It's crazy-light too – when we show you what tech is rammed under the hood, you'll be amazed that it all goes in a device that weighs only a shade over 100g (116g, to be precise).
Samsung clearly traded the premium feel an all-metal chassis might have brought to keep the grams off the Galaxy S2 – pop the battery cover off and you'll find you're holding a piece of pretty flimsy plastic.
However, most of the time you won't be removing this and it fits nicely into the contoured chassis – the mesh feel on the rear also helps keep your hand from getting warm during extended holding.
The other thing you'll notice when you first pick up the Galaxy S2 is the screen – at 4.3 inches it's hard to miss, and when you turn it on the Super AMOLED plus technology hits you square in the eyeballs (once it's got through the toughened Gorilla Glass).
We called the Samsung Galaxy S "the best phone on the market for media" when we reviewed it, thanks to its first-gen Super AMOLED screen. Now the Galaxy S2 has definitely improved on that, with a superbly crisp and vibrant screen.
The only problem is a slightly schizophrenic auto-brightness - if you try and save battery by having the sensor monitor ambient light levels, then the screen decides to bounce about with light levels even in same conditions.
UPDATE: Samsung has released a fix to solve this problem already, so forget about it. Un-read what you just read. We could delete it, but that would be lying to you.
In the hand, the Galaxy S2 sits much better than we'd have expected, given the whopping screen on offer, and that's mostly down to its slim depth.
The front of the phone is pretty sparse, with the home key the only piece of furniture on offer. This rectangular button flanks two touch-sensitive buttons – Menu and Back – so there's no room for contextual search here.
The volume keys are located on the left-hand side, and the power/lock key is on the opposite flank; both are easy enough to hit without error, and crucially the travel on the power key is softer so that it's much easier to hit when you're juggling it in the palm – compare that to its predecessor, where you could accidentally drop it trying to shut off the screen.
The 3.5mm headphone jack lives on the top of the phone, bucking the lower placement on other 4.3-inch screen phones, and the microUSB slot (which also doubles as an HDMI out port) lives on the bottom.
The only other element of note is the 8.1MP camera with single LED flash on the rear – it's slightly raised, but not so much that it disrupts the Galaxy S2 when you're placing it on a table, thanks to a rear lip to help you hold the phone.
We actually (foolishly, in hindsight) unboxed the phone while bouncing about on a powerboat on the Thames - and luckily, there was a camera rolling the whole time. (note - we're well aware of the stupid spec mistakes on the boat. Some were down to information given to us by Samsung that has since changed, and some due to sheer confusion at being thrown ten feet in the air and having our spine crushed.)
39 of 43 people found this review helpful.
Just Buy It!
You'd think that the best phone couldn't get much better, but Samsung have entered some kind of crazed accelerated development programme and have introduced loads of improvements over the original Galaxy S. The first thing you notice is the absolutely incredible screen. This has grown from a huge 4 inches to a mega-enormous 4.3 inches, matching the HTC Desire HD and making this the biggest screen on any phone. The poor old Apple iPhone 4 has just 3.5 inches of screen. But it's not just size that counts. The Galaxy S2 introduces a new technology called Super AMOLED Plus, which is eye-popping in its brightness and clarity. The Super AMOLED display of the original Galaxy S was leagues ahead of most smartphones, so to leap forward to yet another generation of display technology is mightily impressive. It's certainly a match for Apple's Retina display, even if the S2's resolution of 480 x 800 pixels isn't quite the highest.
The surface area of the phone has grown to cater for the enlarged screen, but the phone still rests in the hand nicely due to its incredible thinness. At just 8.5mm, it's the thinnest smartphone on the market (the iPhone 4 is a flabby 9.3mm). Below the screen you'll find a single home button flanked by two touch-sensitive buttons for Menu and Back. It's a minimalist design that gives you everything you need. At 116g the phone is pretty light for such a high-powered beasty, and that's thanks to the plastic construction. It lacks the high-end feel of a metallic case, but avoids the reception problems that have plagued the iPhone 4 and also to some extent the HTC Desire S. Something called Gorilla Glass is used to protect that all-important Super AMOLED Plus display.
The operating system is the latest version of Android - 2.3 (Gingerbread). Android is our top choice for smartphone OS, and global sales of Android phones seem to be overtaking iPhone quite decisively. The number of apps available has exceeded the 100,000 mark and is continuing to grow rapidly. Android 2.3 is combined here with a new version of Samsung's TouchWiz user interface - version 4.0. Along with various home screen customisations and Swype text input for faster typing on the QWERTY keyboard, this introduces a number of hubs into the user interface. The Social Hub, which we've seen on previous Samsung smartphones brings together contacts, calendar and email with Instant Messaging, facebook and twitter. Reader's Hub is a platform for ebooks and magazines, with access to over 2000 newspapers in 49 languages and featuring interactive features like page curling effects. Music Hub is a combined music player and Music Store - we'll have to see how that works out. Perhaps more interesting is the Games Hub where you can download premium HD games (and some free games) optimised for the S2's dual-core processor, Super AMOLED Plus screen and 3-axis accelerometer and gyroscope sensors. The phone also comes preloaded with social games - We Farm, Safari, We Rule, We City. Being an Android phone, the S2 comes with pre-installed with all things Google, including Google Maps 5.0, Gmail, YouTube, Google Calendar, Google Talk and Picasa integration.
The headline grabbing feature of the S2 is its dual-core processor. It isn't the first dual-core phone to be released (that was the LG Optimus 2X) but it's the most highly anticipated. Anyone who's experienced the instantaneous response of the single-core Galaxy S might question the need for a faster processor.
21 of 24 people found this review helpful.
Fab phone, great build quality, loads of features, A+ screen
| Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
I bought this product as it was rated as the best android phone on the market and one that would enable me to view my mail and browse whilst away from my PC.
Its my first Android phone and as such was not sure what to expect especially after all the hype and write ups.
The box comes with all the bits but very limited instructions. Suffice it to say that there are no details of how to install the battery and its really not that obvious. Basically you have to put your fingernail into the small hole on the back face of the phone (top right) and then pull it and rip the back panel out. Its not something I would have expected and I had to google it to find out how. As a bloke, I probably wouldnt have read an instruction manual if there was one but fortunately the packaging design was done by a man and so they decided to do away with the manual altogether!
That said, it was pretty intuitive to get used to and to install apps, get the phone setup, email and browsing but I have an I.T. background and have used other multifunction phones. I think it would be a bit of a challenge without google etc for someone who was less ok with newer technology. I guess there is help on the phone itself but I didnt look as I was able to get all I needed done.
The phone itself is quite large but very thin.
Its quite light, suprisingly for the size of the phone but feels well build and sturdy.
The screen is v.v.good.
Battery life seems pretty good to although I am not using it constantly as its just a phone on most days when I am in the office.
The menu / screens are great and intuitive.
Setting up Wifi and browsing and mail was a doddle.
All in all its a really great phone.
Camera is ok but no great shakes, this hangup on number of megapixels is a false stat for me. All camera phones are ok for what they are but are just not in the same league as proper cameras. So if you set your expectations as such you will be happy with the results.
One real positive I have found is the apps. I know there arent as many as for the iphone but to be honest, who cares. I have been able to find the ones I needed plus some games etc. And for me the real benefit is not being locked into the Apple world and its old school controlled environment. I have also got the asus transformer tablet (and keyboard) which is excellent and another great thing about the Galaxy S2 (as with a lot of Android phones) is you can set it up to share its 3g connection and so use the tablet (via the phone) when away from a wireless connection. The way the phone uses wireless when in range and auto switches to 3g without you having to change settings is also pretty cool.
All in all a great phone which allows me plenty of space to grow into using more of its features.
Oh and one final and slightly important factor.
The quality when making/receiving phone calls is much better than my previous Nokia and I dont have to worry about where or how I hold it as you do with the iphone.
Great bit of kit.
14 of 15 people found this review helpful.
The best android phone, dare I say, the BEST smartphone
| Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
|Ease of use|
|Value for money|
- Awesome screen - all the greatness of OLED (perfect blacks, high contrast, looks good in direct sunlight) without the ugliness that was PenTile. Here you just get the bright, popping colors. Oh, and at 4.3", it's a pleasure to look at from any distance. The resolution is still 800x480, though. Wish they'd up it to match iPhone.
- Very light. I mean, VERY light. Samsung wasn't kidding when they stressed that point. Considering the size of this thing, it's very hard to believe. When you put the phone into someone else's hand for the first time, they usually are confused because they expect it to feel more "solid", and not so featherweight.
- Fairly thin. Good if you wear your phone in the pocket of your pants.
- The UI is buttery smooth, with no hiccups that are common on all other Android phones I've seen. Not sure if it's Samsung's new powerful GPU (Exynos), software optimizations that they did, or a combination of both, but overall this thing is just as slick as iPhone 4.
- It can be rooted, and custom ROMs already exist. No signed bootloaders or other similar malarkey.
- It comes with Android 2.3. That means better perf, WiFi tethering/hotspot out of the box, and the ability to tilt and rotate the map in Google Maps - among other things.
- It comes with Polaris Office. It is a very nice Android office suite - from what I've seen so far, more full-featured than Docs to Go, QuickOffice etc - especially when it comes to supporting advanced MS Office features such as charts. It cannot be purchased from the market, and only comes bundled with select devices, such as this one or Asus Transformer.
- MicroSD card slot, for all those gigabytes of music.
- It has CyanogenMod. They've finally got Bluetooth working, so you can use it for everything.
- Battery life doesn't seem to be so good. It gets through the day, but if you forget to charge it in the evening it won't last you a second day (except if only on standby). It seems to be purely a software issue as people with (unofficial) Android 2.3.5 report much better numbers. Likely going to be fixed when 2.3.5 officially rolls out for XEU models.
- It heats up quite a bit when in active use. More so than any other phone I've used. It's not exactly a surprise considering 1.2GHz dual-core CPU and a powerful GPU, and I suspect that ultra-thin form factor makes cooling less efficient than it could have been otherwise. Overall it's tolerable, but very noticeable.
- Some applications seem to be showing images in 16-bit color rather than 32-bit (particularly the browser). This leads to nasty dithering artifacts, especially on bands of clear colors and gradients. Head to XDA-developers forum for Galaxy S II for more details on this. It seems to be a software issue, so future updates may solve it.
Things to be aware of:
- Front is full glass, back is textured plastic. I love the back for the texture, which looks pretty nice and gives a good grip when held, but it's not as "oh, shiny" as iPhone 4. Lack of metal seems to be what makes it so light, among other things. On the other hand, I didn't notice any creaking, so assembly is high-quality.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
EXCELLENT, HARD TO BEAT
| Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
May only last 2 years
Only 16GB (currently)
Lacks NFC (currently)
The Samsung Galaxy S II (SGS2) is the best device I have owned. I have had it for two weeks now and although I have some reservations about the build quality (my other phone is an N8), I think comments of its cheap feel really have more to do with preconceptions that a premium device must be heavy rather than any specific shortcomings. The back cover is quite thin and flimsy, I remember the same of my old N95, but this does not creak when in place like that one used to and when the phone is assembled, you would not even notice. If you are the kind of person who swaps SIM cards all the time, maybe you want to look elsewhere, otherwise I would not worry
The feel of the device is great. Everyone who has seen it for the first time has commented on how thin it is. Combined with the light weight, it really dispenses with most of the traditional disadvantages of having a phone with a 4.3 inch screen. The screen itself is exceptional and my primary reason for buying the phone over its Android competitors, the Optimus 2X, the Atrix and the Sensation. Although it does not have the DPI of some of these phones or of the iPhone 4, the super AMOLED plus display more than compensates. Thanks to a change in its sub-pixel matrix from the pentile arrangement of the original SGS and Nexus S to the more conventional RGB, I have yet to see a real world use where graininess is an issue. Some might say that more pixels must be better, but I think this screen is as sharp as it needs to be with added benefits of AMOLED technology i.e. thinner, richer, more vibrant colurs, true blacks and lower power consumption. To cap it off, it is covered with Gorilla Glass so hopefully will withstand the scrapes of everyday life (I have not scratched it yet *touches wood*).
Touchwiz 4.0 is fairly unobtrusive and does not differ that much from stock Android other than by aping the iPhone’s side scrolling launcher and setting the screen to the extreme left as the home screen rather than the centre. I guess this makes sense if you choose to have an even number of home screens.
The speed of the phone is the other weapon in the SGS2’s wow-factor arsenal. Opening applications, screen transitions and animations are all executed without any perceptible lag. I suspect this has as much to do with the 1GB of ram as the processor but whatever it is, it is a fantastic combination. On a fast connection, the web browser is brilliantly fast, particularly of you limit flash to loading on demand, rather than always. The BBC website typically renders in 3-4 seconds which is approaching PC speeds. It has not struggled with any of the HD Gameloft offerings and I think these games are as taxing as it gets on Android at the moment.
You can always wait 6 months and get something faster, or another 12 months and get something faster still but if you want something right now, it think this is the best. Getting continuous Android updates may be a worry, but if this is what you want, get a Nexus phone, or just accept the functionality that phone comes with now and see anything else you might get in the next 18 months as a bonus. At least you can be fairly confident that the hardware will support it.
52 of 53 people found this review helpful.