Samsung Galaxy S II AT&T Review
There are the strong, and then there are the strongest, but AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy S II is in a whole entire league of its own over others on the carrier’s lineup with its ridiculous speed. Truly showcasing why it’s probably the fastest Android smartphone around, its 1.2GHz dual-core Samsung Exynos processor just blazes through the competition with its flawless execution. Naturally, it’s able to exhibit fluid movements when navigating the homescreen, but even after activating a graphically intensive live wallpaper, it’s still able to maintain its feverish rate – and in fact, it’s very reluctant in minutely displaying any hint of slowdown or lag. Needless to say, its 1GB of RAM also contributes in making the handset by far the fastest thing we’ve had the privilege of using of late. Trust us, you’ll be equally as astounded in witnessing how speedy this handset really is.
Even though it’s running Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on top of Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, it’s worth noting that this version of TouchWiz appears to be handicapped – meaning, it omits many of the TouchWiz widgets that we find on Sprint's Samsung Epic 4G Touch. You’d think that the experience would be uniform, but sadly enough, it’s indeed apparent that AT&T’s version is missing out on some things. Despite that, personalization is still aplenty with the usual assortment of stock Android widgets, wallpapers, and shortcuts available to us, which can be supplemented by a quick trip to the Android Market. And besides flicking our way to get to a specific homescreen panel, we adore the nice touches found with leap view and the slider bar.
Getting into the app panel, icons are arranged in the familiar grid-like formation we’re normally accustomed to seeing, but we’re treated to some acute organizational aspects since there are options for adding folders and pages to better adjust the layout.
Showing yet another level of refinement in the platform experience, AT&T’s Galaxy S II incorporates some useful motion-based controls that offer another way of interacting with the phone. Specifically, they include things like tilting it to zoom in & out of pictures in the gallery or the web browser, panning between the homescreen by moving the phone either in a left or right direction, turning over the phone to its back during an incoming phone call to mute it, and double tapping the phone to prepare it for voice commands. Sure they’re cool at first, but some are more practical than others.
Just like previous TouchWiz handset, AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy S II doesn’t deviate as it presents us with the normal set of core organizer apps. Obviously, there’s nothing new with the layouts and functionality found with the calculator, calendar, and clocks apps. And just like before, there’s a nifty Mini Diary app that makes the process of indexing entries such a joy seeing that we’re allowed to attach text, our location, and a photo to them.
typing up messages on the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II is such a breeze with its three available keyboards – these include the stock, Samsung TouchWiz, and the Swype keyboards. Not only are we presented with ample size buttons, our rate of input is steadfast thanks to its ubiquitous responsiveness in accurately registering our presses.
emailing experience is nothing out of the ordinary as it presents us with the normal features we’d come to expect and see. Much like everything before it, setup is a hassle-free experience since it only requires our email addresses and passwords to automatically set up properly.
1. nyamo (Posts: 274; Member since: 19 Mar 2011)
i thought the ATT version was supposed to have an NFC chip? did something change a long the way?
6. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
Seconded, does it have NFC? What other abilities does it have out of the box rather than Google wallet in the UK?
24. baldilocks (Posts: 501; Member since: 14 Dec 2008)
Didn't you see the 'Near Field Communication' that was printed on the battery??
2. GJanee (Posts: 211; Member since: 29 Jun 2011)
"...with the WVGA resolution of the handset, it’s beginning to show its age when we’re finding ourselves zooming in to properly view text within the web browser."
ohh cmooon. this is ridiculous. who could see a single pixelation (especially at texts) on a 4,3" 480x800 samoplus display? browsers don't even let you zoom in that much. :D and WVGA is a con? this is just pure casuistry.
STILL this statement could well be true in case of pictures. but text? fonts? meh...
9. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
i think they were commenting more on the inability to read small text, not the ability to zoom in on text so big it looks pixelated.
i cant read that small anyways, so doesnt bother me. :)
69. NeXoS (Posts: 278; Member since: 03 May 2011)
I have a QHD screen and even though it's higher res, I'd rather have a lower res SAMOLED+.
All things being equal, I'd take SAMOLED+ over 300+ppi any day. 300+ppi sounds nice on paper, but it's just a spec and in the real world, most people aren't holding the phone 2 inches from their faces.
But, the Nexus Prime gives us both!
11. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
I stand by PhoneArena on this one. Witnessing web browsing on qHD and Retina displays, WVGA is definitely lagging (especially on a large 4.3" display).
I also think that your argument should be reversed. Text is annoying when it's fuzzy. Ever watch the news in standard definition with the ticker scrolling across the screen? Much easier to read on an HDTV.
Some would say photos are equally important to view in high-resolution. In general, it makes sense to leave the WVGA resolution as a con. In fact, I would be interested if the Exynos/graphics processor would exhibit equal performance if the resolution was upped to qHD.
14. WirelessCon (Posts: 309; Member since: 11 May 2010)
I have yet to see a qHD screen that is as vibrant or more vibrant than the WVGA on the Infuse. Pixelization on text is just as evident on qHD.
qHD is a waste of time. 720p is the next step that matters. Then 1080p, which is overkill, but tech- geeks love overkill.
1080p color e-ink with optional LED backlight. BRING IT ON!
19. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
What you list as "vibrant" is actually color saturation, which is really a debatable pro/con. Some people prefer more natural looking colors, some prefer the pop of saturated colors.
When I see WVGA on a 4.3" screen next to a Retina or 4.3" qHD display I see a world of difference in pixel density and text readability on the same web page. Not sure if you have done this type of comparison before.
720p will be awesome and just about overkill. Agreed 1080p will be overkill, and marketers will plaster the FULL HD marking all over ads.
30. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
screen resolution is great and is better than qhd pentile...and to be honest do many people read on the web when its fully zoomed out?most people zoom in using text wrap...
66. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
In either case, it sounds like your argument is saying, "It's good ENOUGH," which is another way of saying it's lagging. It's still a con.
82. beefalo (Posts: 16; Member since: 10 Nov 2011)
uhh have you actually used an iOS device with the retina display?? it makes a huge difference when reading text. don't get me wrong, colors etc look amazing on super amoled plus, but high res and high PPI is key for readability on phones.
i literally brought up the main phone arena page on a 3.5" iPhone 4s and a 4.3" focus s(super amoled plus). Fully zoomed out i could just read the text on the iPhone 4s, yet it was too blurry on the focus s. This alone proves that the retina display was not a gimmick, and it serves more of a purpose than just getting rid of jaggies. It truly hits the limit of what the human eye can make out on the screen, anymore resolution would not have made the text anymore readable IMO because at that point it would be too small for my eyes.
if you are just looking at pics and video, i think the colors and contrast on the super amoled plus will be better. but if you are looking at text or browsing the web, you will realize that a bigger screen does not mean easier reading. at 4.3" i think you would need around a 1280x720 screen to again hit the mark where you are seeing as much detail as the human eye can handle(obviously using the same resolution as the retina will give you just as clear text, but with a bigger screen your eye could see even more detail given more resolution) this is one reason i am very interested in the htc rezound!
3. rwolf1984 (Posts: 518; Member since: 06 Jun 2009)
Disappointed that AT&T handicapped TouchWiz...I'Ve played with the Epic Touch and it's the screen, the thin form factor, cameras, the gestures, the speed and the UI widgets etc that differentiate this device from the other android devices. I am debating on ordering the international Galaxy S II or checking out the next iPhone...the Captivate turned out to be a major disappointment...ready for a new phone.
4. henrickrw (Posts: 403; Member since: 16 Sep 2011)
Dear Phonearena. Definetly all your reviews on the GS2 will be 9 because you don't have a choice. This handset is very cool & it's the best on the market. I own the international version and I'm very happy with my purchase.
i just wonder which grade you will give to the IPhone 5?
68. NeXoS (Posts: 278; Member since: 03 May 2011)
Dear iPhoneArena, you guys are real app holes.
Flimsy cover? Nice choice of words there guys, it's actually highly flexible and will not break when you remove it, it's made to flex:
Also, the WVGA Super AMOLED Plus looks better than the Retina$$ display any day!
5. qdz (unregistered)
Why not try out what everyone who has owned a Samsung android device wants to know about...the GPS!
8. rex0422 (Posts: 30; Member since: 12 Aug 2011)
I am not the biggest fan of the design, but I have the international version and it is pretty darn fast, despite its design, you know, is only THIN and LIGHT. Also, the ridiculous WVGA display on 4.3-inch device NOW!? Samsung should knock their heads against the wall! THEY NEED TO WAKE UP! I love the speed, I really do, but something like the HTC Sensation and LG Optimus 2x (T-Mobile G2X) are better, in my opinion.
10. remixfa (Posts: 13902; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
so, what exactly gets a 9.5 or a 10? you say this thing is the best power, camera, performance, beauty, ect ect..
what exactly is a 10? if the iphone5 scores higher, im calling foul.
12. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
My interpretation of their review:
- TouchWiz stinks: -0.5
- WVGA is lagging: -0.5
Maybe TOGETHER those cons equal -.5, but not sure it should be knocked a whole point. This GSII may not be a perfect 10, but man it's close...I think 9.5 is more appropriate.
31. taz89 (Posts: 2014; Member since: 03 May 2011)
touch wiz is a matter of opininion but how does it handicap this phone...it adds more features to it...
73. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
I'm one of they few ppl that like the different custom UI's.
13. WirelessCon (Posts: 309; Member since: 11 May 2010)
Call quality is one reason to keep it below 10. After all, this is a phone we're talking about.
This phone sounds great, but it's not enough of an improvement from the Infuse to get me excited.
The Infuse is really nice and it doesn't have Gingerbread yet. What will Gingerbread enhance on the Infuse?
17. vette21man (Posts: 351; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
Agreed about the call quality. All phones (smart or not) should have perfect call quality.
Sounds like a lot of improvements over the Infuse. Better camera, dual-core processor, perfect screen size (not too big), gingerbread out of the box, NFC (maybe?). That's just off the top of my head. IMHO, the Infuse was a release to keep AT&T customers salivating in anticipation for the GSII.
15. WM6.5Sucks (Posts: 42; Member since: 06 Apr 2011)
can anyone explain the reason why hspa+ is slower on AT&T than t-mobile? Is it because there's more coverage on AT&T therefore speeds are slower?
18. networkdood (Posts: 6260; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)
1. Phone software
2. Network capability in area
So, if the phone is capable of only 14.4, then there you go.
I know T-Mo has phone capable of more, and that they are upgrading the network to HSPA+48. AT&T upgrades slowly, thus the reason why they want to buy T-MO.
This phone is HSDPA 21 Mbit/s. Most of the network is probably a step behind.
16. networkdood (Posts: 6260; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)
Who cares about a handicapped TouchWiz....just root the phone and go grab TouchWiz over at XDA. Call Quality rating has to be questioned....every phone is tested only in Philly. I have an SGSI in California and its call quality is outstanding, so I can only imagine that the SGS2 call quality will be fine. Seems like an excellent phone. Do you wait for Samsung to produce an SGS phone with a 3D screen, and a higher rez front facing camera, or take this one? Must suck to be an INFUSE user, and then see this phone out on the market only a few short months later.
20. Forsaken77 (Posts: 547; Member since: 09 Jun 2011)
I find this review to be very contradictory. The phone is dogged, then says it's top-notch.
I was looking forward to this phone for months and now this review makes me feel like the phone is sub-par on many levels. Like the processor is the only upgrade from the Captivate. Think I'm gonna call my AT&T store and tell them to forget it. :(
25. BrockSamson (unregistered)
75. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
Compared to the GS1, the GS2 would be a better choice for a few reasons:
Samsung fixed the file system, lag issue
Battery life (?)
Reading what I typed...looks to be more than a few reasons, I initially was only gonna put 2...lol
The GPS and lag due to the file system might didnt effect everyone but it effected enough ppl that they were legitimate problems. The screen, GPS and lag issue alone makes it worth upgrading from the Captivate.
26. PzykoSkillz (Posts: 7; Member since: 29 Aug 2011)
It says at the end of the review that this is the best Samsung phone and the best Android phone on AT&T. It also mentions the great screen adn the camera as one of the best they've used. What more do you want?
36. Ivan6479 (Posts: 243; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)
Hmm.. maybe you haven't read the specs in its entirety because this phone has not only a better processor, but it's possibly the best dual core currently on the market, a full gig of ram which is nearly twice the ram of the captivate which only had 512mb, 8mp vs 5mp cam giving you the ability to shoot 1080p vs 720p, Super AMOLED Plus vs Super AMOLED and it's currently the only phone on the market that has touch functionality with a gyroscope, oh and the screen is .3 larger not like that makes a whole lot of difference. I almost forgot it also has the implementation of a 2mp front facing cam, which the captivate does not have. So I think it's your loss passing up on possibly the best phone of the year. :)
21. Forsaken77 (Posts: 547; Member since: 09 Jun 2011)
I'm also VERY disappointed with the HSPA+ speeds. Those are the speeds I usually get with 3G for Christ sake. The reviewer had to have like 2 bars or something. Or maybe it's like with the Atrix... they have to turn it on? I don't know but other HSPA+ phones go much faster than this.
22. Tre-Nitty (Posts: 460; Member since: 16 Nov 2010)
When I had the infuse I was pulling 11 down and almost 2 up in certain areas. ATT is by far the slowest at upgrading their network. Anyway I'm still debating over this phone. I was sold but $200 for a phone that isn't truly leaps and bounds over the infuse or atrix is weighing heavily on me. Heck I can get a atrix for $50 now.
23. aar0983 (Posts: 51; Member since: 26 Sep 2011)
Att will always be fail!!!!!! Slow connections will always handicap your good investments. LTE ftw!!!
38. Ivan6479 (Posts: 243; Member since: 26 Jun 2011)
Hmm... not so sure about that, because if this merger goes through with T-mobile then both AT&T users and T-mobile users will both have improved connections with faster speeds for AT&T thanks to T-mobiles LTE and improved coverage for T-mobile users in more rural areas thanks to AT&T's help.
27. twenti7 (Posts: 152; Member since: 09 Jul 2011)
Let me get this straight; AT&T's GSII variant gets a con for not having enough TouchWiz, while Sprint's gets one for having too much. What gives? It's like PhoneArena is going out of their way to not give this phone a 9.5 when it is so clearly deserves it.
29. Forsaken77 (Posts: 547; Member since: 09 Jun 2011)
The numerical score is irrelevant. It's the facts mentioned within the review that you should be concerned with. Not some random guys opinionated score of the phone. But the review is very contradictory imo anyways.
39. theo14461 (Posts: 157; Member since: 08 Oct 2009)
Agreed, I had the Epic 4G Touch and, although the hardware was great, Sprint's horrible network and their so-called 4G made me return it. Totally ruined the GS II experience.
32. Cryosx (Posts: 1; Member since: 27 Sep 2011)
Is this phone physically the same as the international version? so say i wanted to put the 2000mah extended battery in it (with the back cover that's provided), would it work?
33. Punter Kickie (unregistered)
The Sprint version has an LED indicator, does the at&t version?
41. iphonejam1 (Posts: 7; Member since: 28 Sep 2011)
wow i bet it feels like another cheap play phone
42. primeone1 (Posts: 7; Member since: 14 Jun 2010)
i kno its kinda late but to answer the first comment, watch the video review at the part when he pops open the back, look at the battery...if im not mistaken it reAds "Near Field Communication"
43. Punter Kickie (unregistered)
I love the GS2 and would love to own one, but I have one major problem with my Captivate and it appears that the GS2 could have the same problem. The Captivate runs very poorly if not connected to a strong wifi signal, or not at full signal. I will try to update my twitter stream, or updated my facebook app with 2-3 bars of 3g and it won't work. Now, I know there's a bunch of you out there that want to blame at&t for that, but my wife has an iphone 4 and it will work just fine at the same location. The Captivate consistently has 1-2 less bars of signal that the iphone does too.
45. BenCjamin (Posts: 78; Member since: 13 May 2011)
That seems like an issue with the phone you have. I have a captivate and have NEVER had that problem. In fact my wife had iphone and I consistently had a stronger signal than she did in most areas.
47. networkdood (Posts: 6260; Member since: 31 Mar 2010)
Root the phone to rid yourself of the 3rd party apps. 2.3.5 GB is out for the phone. To see what your battery is using - go to the settings.
48. RAIDERWILL (Posts: 22; Member since: 07 Aug 2011)
Anyone near the Sacremento Ca Area getting one of these phones? I would love to challenge you to a little speedtest.. say: In Front of Fry's in Sac on a weekend? Because.. I have a Rooted, Rom'ed, Kerneled, GummyChraged 2.0, TSM Enhanced, Overclocked 1300 mhz Verizon Droid Charge... Running on Verizon's 4G LTE Network.. And... Its Ahh.. " Yester Years Phone.." And lets just see if this so called ALL MIGHTY 1.2 *DUAL CORE* on ATT's Hspa Nework phone can work the web at the speed of my Droid Charge on LTE 4G... And.. Not To Worry.. I will not keep you there too long... I would not want our race to push you over your 2 GIG DATA CAP..... What a joke.. So many people waiting for this phone... And ya could've been Grandfathered in with Unlimited Internet with Verizon at 4G speeds.... ( No Matter Where You Live In The U.S. Verizon 4G Is On The Way.. ) Thinking its all that... And the Nexus Prime (Verizon..) is about to burst your bubble.. Shhh ! That's why they passed on the S2...... So by all means jump into the S2 and be hobbled by Data Caps / HSPA and Shock to s**t when the Nexus Prime Debut's in about 45 days... Eh.. You could wait for the S3! I hear its QUAD CORE! and packing 1.5gigs of ram!.. Now.. Just sit on the sidelines about 6 months longer................ I am serious about the Challenge.. Real World Test.. My LTE 4G Custom Droid Charge will blow the socks off your S2...
49. BDR (unregistered)
Not buying because of touchwiz and cheap plastic build quality.
51. *wow* (unregistered)
Maybe I;m crazy but was that film on the phone from crocker park
52. vishu9 (Posts: 251; Member since: 03 Mar 2011)
thanks for not mentioning the iPhone4 in the review!!!! SGS2 rocks!
54. Mike (unregistered)
Is this model phone Hearing Aid compatible ? Thanks. Mike.
57. GreyP (Posts: 3; Member since: 16 Jun 2010)
Have you ever ordered your Samsung toner fromhttp://www.tonerstore.com/cgi-bin/toner/make/Samsung.html
59. Alexandre prt (unregistered)
Perfect! Fast and eficient. The only thing i have to point out agaínst is The battery autonomy. Waiting to see and ear from iPhone 5...
60. preacherwannabe (Posts: 1; Member since: 27 Sep 2011)
This phone is fantastic. So user friendly! Had it for 2 days, and it feels like an old friend already. Love it!
65. DUde (unregistered)
What happen with the radio feature?? It is labeled on spec sheet but where?? Another Att control bit!?!
72. GeekMovement (Posts: 1499; Member since: 09 Sep 2011)
Personally prefer the shape of this phone over the other two, but they're all awesome for real.
74. jroc74 (Posts: 4720; Member since: 30 Dec 2010)
I thought this was funny from the review:
"Excellent in getting adequate signal strength in high coverage areas"
Excellent at being adequate? What is that? lol
My Motorola phones in high coverage areas on Verizon get above adequate signal strength. Whats their definition of adequate I wonder...
|Display||4.3 inches, 480 x 800 pixels (217 ppi) Super AMOLED Plus|
Samsung Exynos, Dual core, 1200 MHz, Exnyos C210 processor
1024 MB RAM
|Size||4.96 x 2.60 x 0.35 inches|
(126 x 66 x 9 mm)
4.30 oz (122 g)
|Battery||1650 mAh, 8 hours talk time|