The hotly anticipated ‘sequel’ to the Samsung Galaxy S finally hit Australian stores last week, ushering in a new generation of Android 2.3, HSPA+ compatible smartphones. We’ve had a play with the device over the past few days and so far we've been very impressed. Read on for a detailed overview of our first impressions…
Samsung Galaxy S II: Introduction
The Samsung Galaxy S II is an Android 2.3 Gingerbread smartphone boasting a 1.2GHz dual-core application processor, 4G (HSPA+ 21) connectivity, 1024MB of RAM and a 4.27in Super AMOLED Plus display, to name a few highlights.
The Galaxy S II is Samsung's flagship smartphone.
Other noteworthy features include Full HD video recording (1080p), a 3-axis gyroscopic sensor suitable for gaming, an 8-megapixel camera with inbuilt flash and server/client networking functionality with DLNA-certified devices.
The Galaxy S II's main claims to fame are its blistering speed and deluxe 4.27in screen. In addition, it has impressive battery life for a smartphone of this calibre and an attractive user interface that's easy to get to grips with. It also looks great - which is just as well, given the $899 price tag.
Samsung Galaxy S II: Design
The Samsung Galaxy S II is a thing of beauty. It’s the kind of product celebrities and fashionistas swan about with, yet it manages to avoid looking obnoxious. If the white iPhone is the height of fashion, then the Samsung Galaxy S II must be the new black. Ahem. Wherever your loyalties lie, it cannot be denied that it is one of the sleekest and most elegant looking smartphones on the market.
At just 8.5mm thick, the Galaxy S II is currently the world's thinnest smartphone, beating the Apple iPhone 4 by around a millimeter. The Samsung Galaxy S II's body is constructed primarily of plastic, but this doesn't detract from its lavish, premium feel. While some may prefer the pristine metal finish of the LG Optimus X2, the upside is a lightweight construction of just 116g.
See how the Samsung Galaxy S II compares agaimst the LG Optimus X2 in our first look review.
The Samsung Galaxy S II: so pretty, it can even make men's feet seem attractive.
It's not all perfect though: The backplate feels quite flimsy and can be a pain to remove. Also, the screen is a tad too sensitive for our liking; if you don't lock the phone before slipping it into your pocket you're guaranteed to launch an app.
But all in all, we are very happy with the build quality of this phone. It’s stylish without being garish and is sure to elicit envious looks from friends and passersby.
Samsung Galaxy S II: Display
One of the Samsung Galaxy S II's main claims to fame is its super glossy AMOLED Plus screen - and it looks fantastic. It's crisp, vibrant and has excellent viewing angles. As you'd expect, this makes the Samsung Galaxy S II a perfect phone for video playback.
We were particularly impressed by how easily fingerprints were removed from the display: a quick wipe of the sleeve is usually all it takes to return the phone to a pristine state.
The Samsung Galaxy S II's 1080p video performance is superb.
The display also fares well in direct sunlight. We experienced little reflectivity when using the phone on the highest brightness setting; something that can't be said for every smartphone on the market. The display is also covered in durable Gorilla Glass to protect against knocks and scratches.
Samsung Galaxy S II: Interface & handling
The release of the Samsung Galaxy S II coincides with four new content and entertainment hubs for Samsung smartphones: Game, Music, Reader, and Social. These hubs comprise music, games, e-reading and social networking services, respectively.
The new hubs provide a good, fuss-free access point to Samsung's various apps and services, although at the time of writing, the Music Hub has not been launched in Australia (a Samsung spokesperson assures us it will be "coming soon").
You can naturally customise the Galaxy S II's seven home screens to your heart's content. Apps and widgets can be rearranged and moved between screens with a few quick finger gestures. It's all very easy to get to grips with and should be instantly familar to anyone who has used a touch screen phone before.
The Galaxy S II's user interface is attractive and easy to get to grips with.
The Samsung Galaxy S II keeps physical controls to a minimum; you get a power\lock button, a volume rocker and a home button, plus a pair of touch-sensitive controls below the AMOLED screen. Otherwise, all smartphone commands are enacted with the touch screen. We would have liked a dedicated camera button (more on which later), but overall we think the phone handles quite well.
The revamped TouchWIZ interface is a definite improvement over the UI found on the original Samsung Galaxy S. Gingerbread lets you copy and paste text across multiple applications, which is handy for emails and the like. We also like the added touch functionality, such as the ability to mute calls by placing the phone face down and swiping contacts to make automatic phone calls.
With dimensions of 125x66x8.5mm, the Samsung Galaxy S II is on the large side for a mobile phone; as necessitated by its 4.3in display. Subsequently, making a phone call can feel a bit awkward at first, but we soon got used to it. Personally, we think the extra screen real estate is worth it.
Samsung Galaxy S II vs Apple iPhone 4: the added size is both a plus and a minus.
If you're afflicted with ungainly sausage fingers or just have large hands, the Galaxy S II's 4.27in display is going to be a godsend. Typing texts and emails is a breeze thanks to the plus-sized keyboards - you can even use your thumbs with minum hassle. We're also big fans of the new Swype input method that makes texting a lot faster.
NEXT PAGE: call quality, performance, camera and conclusion...