Reviews -> Hardware -> Mobile phones
SAMSUNG I9100 GALAXY S II
SHAYNE RANA | 25 August 2011
For : Stunning performance, excellent media features, good camera
Against : Slightly sluggish UI.
SAMSUNG I9100 GALAXY S II
Verdict: The best Android yet!Specifications
Dimensions (WxHxD): 66 x 125.3 x 8.5 mm; Weight: 116 g; Processor: Dual core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex A9; Memory: 1 GB RAM, 16 GB internal; OS: Android v2.3; Display: Super AMOLED Plus 480 x 800, 4.3 in; Battery: 1650 mAh; Talk time: 8.5 hrs
Contact: Samsung India
MAIL : firstname.lastname@example.org
The Galaxy S II is the thinnest Android mobile phone in the market. It’s remarkably just 8.5mm in depth, which is just about a shade thinner than Apple’s iPhone. The 4.3-inch Gorilla Glass display manages to keep smudges away, which makes viewing a real treat. The resolution on this, the first ever Super AMOLED Plus display, is 480x800 pixels, which is not nearly as refined as the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 that has it beat hands down.
A couple of touch sensitive keys (return and menu) are placed on either side of the rectangular Home button. Volume/zoom keys are located on the right side while a screen lock/Power button is on the left. It’s a pity that Samsung didn’t incorporate a small shutter release for the camera, but what’s really disappointing is the lack of a hot swap memory card slot. However 16 GB of internal storage should be more than enough. While it ranks high on the design front, being so light and thin and yet so large, it feels a bit plastic-y and delicate. We did drop it (unintentionally) a couple of times and although a couple of locks on the rear popped up, the handset remained unscathed.
Samsung’s all new TouchWiz UI 4.0, although much better looking than past offerings, is a wee bit sluggish. You can now add widgets by opening up a small sliding section at the bottom of the display and dragging whatever you want onto the multiple screens. TouchWiz’s overall functionality is quite well laid out. It allows you to arrange apps in the menus with an edit option. You can also create folders if you wish to be a little more organized. The S II also has gesture-based features like holding down on an app and tilting the handset to move between screens. The double tap for voice commands options was a complete bust as it worked in the trial simulation, but never after that.
The phone book has a Merge with Facebook or Google set up, but that didn’t seem to work. We ultimately had to manually sync contacts. The Galaxy S II on the whole worked like a charm, pushing the dual core 1.2 GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor and Android Gingerbread (2.3.3) platform very steadily. Accessing data, opening apps, multi-tasking and creating or playing HD videos was fluid and almost lag-free.
The Galaxy S II truly excels in media playback. The music player, although lacking a jazzy gyro-using, Cover-Flow style view, is simple and easy to use with EQ presets and an 8-band customizable setting. It’s loud and clear enough for calls and music to be heard over the commotion in a Mumbai local train, so it passes our acid test. When it comes to video playback, the S II fully supports all formats up to 1080p resolution. There was no delay or lag while accessing or playing files. The S II also comes with a preloaded video editor that’s easy to use. A photo editor is also provided. The handset’s FM radio, in contrast, was a bit average. Reception was just about adequate while commuting.
The Galaxy S II is a 3G-capable phone capable of handling HSDPA with speeds of 21 Mbps and HSUP up to 5.76 Mbps. EDGE/GPRS functions well too. With Bluetooth 3.0 + HS, USB-on-the-go, Wi-Fi with tethering and Wi-Fi Hot spot creation, the Galaxy S II is well equipped for connectivity. Samsung also offers DLNA support with their All Share app and Samsung Kies for downloading apps wirelessly.
The various Hubs such as Samsung’s Music Hub (which was inaccessible), Readers Hub for getting e-books, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, Game Hub and Social Hub (showcases all social networking accounts into one place) are now part of TouchWiz UI 4.0’s make up. Samsung even has their own App market for downloading apps. Push services for email and Facebook are no different from other Android powered device. What was a big disappointment was the absence of a preloaded GPS software app. Usually Samsung offers a Route 66 based app, but with a high-end device like the Galaxy S II not having it made a big difference. All of Google’s services were, however, present, from Maps to Navigation and Places.
An 8 megapixel auto/touch focus camera with an LED flash and the ability to record videos in 1080p at 30fps makes the S II even more impressive. The phone does manage to offer quite a range of digi-cam-like features, including a range of scene modes, geotagging, face/smile and blink detection, white balance, beauty shot, auto stitch panorama, a timer, and a few color effects. The touch focus isn’t nearly as good as it is on HTC’s new devices, but on the whole, image quality was great. Details were clear and quite crisp for a mobile camera. Color reproduction was also quite vivid.
There was a bit of framing in the captured video, but not enough to bother most users. On the whole, the camera proved to be quite an asset for the S II with almost instantaneous activation when selected. Processing was also quite speedy, so you won’t miss those spontaneous moments. The S II also features a 2 megapixel fixed focus camera up front near the proximity sensor, just above the display. This camera can be used for taking self-portraits or for video calls. The quality of pictures from this camera is also quite decent for both video and images.
The 1650 mAh battery works out just fine for the Galaxy S II, clocking in at 6 hours of standalone talk time, which is quite impressive. We were able to watch two full length movies back to back without the handset dying on us. The task manager and device’s pre-loaded power saving mode do help optimize the battery life as well. You’ll get about a day and a half of usage on one charge, which will easily include a little bit of video, music, Web browsing and at least two hours worth of calls.
The bottom line
The Galaxy S II, although officially available for Rs 32,890 (16 GB), is also available for about Rs 30,000. The fact that the device performs quite seamlessly and is priced rather reasonably impressed us. When compared to similar products like the LG Optimus 2X or the HTC Incredible S, the S II stands out. If ever the iPhone 4 had to seriously be worried, the Galaxy S II would be the one making it sweat. The one thing Samsung should do for the S II in terms of packaging is include a more cables to fill out the empty space in the premium pack. An adapter for USB (like Nokia’s) and a MHL cable would have been great.
While it may not have the elegance of the simplistic yet, classy user experience of the iPhone 4, it makes up for it with speed and just a tad more functionality. Of course, that will all change come iOS 5, but for now, if the iPhone 4 is too heavy for your wallet, the Galaxy S II is the next best thing and well worth the price tag.
- Shayne Rana