Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Samsung Galaxy S II to Forrest Gump, he might try to have a bite and say it’s because it felt like a bar of slim dark chocolate in his hand. Well, the top-shelf version we are holding now feels like that too. At the same time though its shell and inner workings have been ironed out just where it counts to shape the Android smartphone to beat this year.
Is it a worthy sequel to the Samsung Galaxy S, which was the Android phone to beat last year? After all, the green robot got equipped with the most powerful chipset and the most innovative screen technology at the time… will history repeat itself?
Samsung has gone dual-core with the chipset now, made the thinnest smartphone outside of Japan, upped the screen size to 4.3”, the camera to 8MP with flash, and slapped the newest 4.0 version of its TouchWiz Android 2.3 Gingerbread skin.
The display technology has also been innovated on, to the tune of 50% increase in perceived pixel count, but will these all be enough for the Samsung Galaxy S II to reach its ten million units sold target goal in 2011? Breeze through our review to find out...
So how thin is the Samsung Galaxy S II; what does 0.33” (8.49mm) really mean? The answer is so much so, that there’s an air gap between your palm and the back of the phone, and you always end up trying to squeeze it with four fingers on one side to the base of your palm on the other, so as not to drop it.
You can compare the Samsung Galaxy S II with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
This is mainly due to the fact that the handset comes pretty wide, even for our larger than average hands - the Samsung Galaxy S II is actually one of the widest Android handsets, only giving way to some of HTC's high-ends.
We’d rather have the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc approach, to be honest – its screen is 4.2”, and it is almost as thin as the Galaxy S II, but is less wide, and fits very comfortably in the hand. SE’s “human curvature” design philosophy wins the ease of handling here, against the high-tech rectangular slab approach of Samsung’s labs.
That’s the only gripe we have with the design, but we guess that’s the price to pay for having a Super AMOLED Plus display. From what we know about the technology, Sammy was most likely forced to work the design around the display dimension template, not the other way around.
The other gripe we had with the design of the pre-production version – the back cover flexing inwards - has been largely dealt with in the retail phone. The battery cover is still paper-thin, but now the air gap between it and the battery inside, is almost non-existent, so no flexing when you push the back in with your finger.
The 4.3” screen evokes one word – fantastic. Super AMOLED Plus delivers better perceived resolution than Super AMOLED on the Samsung Galaxy S, since it uses a standard matrix to form an image with 50% more subpixels than the PenTile arrangement, used in the Galaxy S. The resolution stays the same - 480x800 pixels - but due to the use of a normal RGB matrix, text appears crisper in books and websites than on the Galaxy S, which has interpolated resolution of 392x653 pixels.
The Super AMOLED Plus display is also brighter, consumes 18% less energy, and comes in a thinner package than the previous generation, which has probably been one of the precursors for the slim chassis of the Galaxy S II. Samsung is moving to a laser-based production method for its AMOLED displays this year, which will allow for Retina Display-like 300ppi+ pixel densities, so we are looking forward to such higher resolutions.
Thanks to the increased brightness, and the low-reflectance coating, the display reads very well outside, better than the previous generation. Besides, you can boost the screen intensity significantly when framing your shots in camera mode, or watching videos in the player. There is an additional mode for that in these apps, called “Outdoor visibility”, which comes in handy when it's sunny outside. The browser and video player also have their own brightness setting sliders.
Samsung uses mDNIe+ - a mobile version of the image processing technology from its TV sets, to enhance the picture when watching media, similar to what Sony Ericsson does with the Mobile Bravia Engine on some of its new Android handsets. The display section in the Settings app allows you to choose from three general background modes – Dynamic, Standard and Movie – just as on our Samsung HDTV at home. Dynamic deepens the blacks for a visible contrast boost, casting away some detail in the process, while Movie mode brings a more toned down, cinematic atmosphere to the image.
In addition to these general display modes, while running video the player settings let you manually decide on the color warmth, and also adjust an individual brightness level. For all these improvements, the Super AMOLED Plus still has that blueish tint, which means its color representation is on the colder side.Contrast and viewing angles are still as good as they come on a mobile display, thanks to the AMOLED technology. On auto setting the light sensor doesn’t cope with adjusting the brightness smoothly, but rather skips through stages, which can get annoying if you are reading something, but it looks like a software issue, which might be fixed with a firmware update.
To recap the design overview we’d say that the etched edges of the 8MP camera area on the back are the only thing that sticks out of an otherwise bland plastic black chassis. The camera has an LED flash this time around, and the phone records any sounds accompanying the captured Full HD videos in stereo, thanks to the microphone duo, which also serves noise-cancellation duties. We have another distinctive feat at the bottom - the microUSB port doubles as an HDMI-out one. It is called a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) port, but more about that later.
The etched edges of the 8MP camera area on the back are the only thing that sticks out of the chassis
We don't mind the all-plastic design, however, since you come to appreciate this material whenever you are holding a phone beast with a 4.3” display, as it makes the Samsung Galaxy S II feel feathery – it weighs about the same as its first edition.
This, of course, is a subjective preference – some like more the unibody aluminum design of HTC’s hunks of a phone. After just a day or two spent with the device, it actually grew on us, and didn’t feel uncomfortable to hold, we just got used to it.
1. touness69 (unregistered)
What ?? the iPhone 4 has 9.5 and this one 9 ?
R U SERIOUS
This is by far the best handset to date it even deserved an unprecendeted 10/10
How can say "Motion sensor-powered gestures could see more practical usage" when no other phone have motion controls ??
Phonearena = definitely biased to the bone
12. AndroidTroll (Posts: 359; Member since: 05 Mar 2011)
I thought the same thing. Iphone 4 should not even be mentioned as a recommendation in this review because it is way out of it's league compared to the Galaxy S 2! I swear PA gets paid every time they recommend iphone.
This is a very nice phone that should get a 9.7. I like all of the photo and video options like panarama and video editing to satisfy the shutter bug in me. I will still be getting the Evo 3D but this is a close second. I like that the Evo 3D has a qHD display and the new htc sense has some cool features. Plus I just can't trust Samsung with software updates anymore... Although I must credit them for possibly learning their lesson since it has gingerbread and an unlocked bootloader.
99. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)
hey u guys are stupid... phone arena isnt gonna go back to every review and make it lower as the years pass... when the ip4 came out there was nothing to beat it... simple as that... this phone is coming out and the sensation, evo 3d, and thrill beat it... technically not one of these phones is in the US market, so they are all future phones... but how can you expect them to give this a perfect score when there are already better phones?
108. vishu9 (Posts: 251; Member since: 03 Mar 2011)
u say there are better phones? The ones u mentioned are in the making still and without a release date. And by any freaking way a review is not done by comparing it with other similar phones its purely done by the one phone-in-hand's performance.Period.
and going by wat u said that iphone4 got 9.5 coz there was nothing that could beat it when it came out..the same can be said about the GS2.there really is no phone out there that can beat it.
I'm not against iphone getting 9.5, its great but giving this one a 9 when it truly is unbeatable is far fetched
109. vishu9 (Posts: 251; Member since: 03 Mar 2011)
and why is it that in every page that mentions Apple u are defending it vociferously and calling other people 'Stupid' ...are you getting paid too? (jk) That would make you Stupid!
144. zoulou (unregistered)
Sorry but there is NO better phone than the SGS2 at least hardware wise. Even in the future planned phones, nothing comes CLOSE.
Maybe in 4 month...
Rarely a phone is such a gap with the competition.
Certainly, the IP4, while it has its merits, was not. And also has antenna issues - and still does.
110. FarooqPasha (Posts: 1; Member since: 05 May 2011)
I wonder how stupid the reviewer is. He is mentioning iphone 4 as the alternate. Shame on you PhoneArena. Shame on you.
Engadget is much more better than you if its iFanSite than you
180. Gesh75 (Posts: 1; Member since: 01 Sep 2011)
Common if there is one of the worst phone review sites it's engadget, and their the biggest apple suck ups i've ever come across so have disagree with you there.
34. calamazoo (unregistered)
LG Optimus 2X and the LG Black have motion controlled gestures, and they seem way more useful than what Samsung has done here - the tilting one is plain dumb, and the panning stuff - meh. From what i saw in the Optimus Black review, you hold a button on the side and tilt up or down to zoom in the website - and here you need two hands for them, very silly
43. KingK (unregistered)
This phone is just on par with the competition. Nothing special.
Too many kids over excited over nothing.
Brings nothing new to the table.
Quadrant scores are exaggerated by 2.3 and low resolution and they've been all over the place. Yet this phone still has lags.
By the time it comes out all over the world, it will be close to yesterdays news.
Not to mention the compatibility issues with the CPU that will come later, can't play tegra 2 games, mali is weak.
Only real ok thing about it is the 1080p recording and the screen.
Its a good thing but it blows nothing out of the water like everyone is drooling at it. Maybe its 4.7% better at best.
52. touness69 (unregistered)
Lags ? Exynos weaker than Tegra 2 ?? on par with the competition ?! You obviously have no idea what you are talking about, just stfu and good bye.
59. cheetah2k (Posts: 814; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)
@ touness69 - The Tegra II is faster clock for clock. The only reason Samsung overclocked the Exynos at 1.2Ghz is that it wasn't competitive at 1.0Ghz.
And yes, the handset still lags. Go have a play with one you fuckknuckle
71. Jeez (unregistered)
I'm sorry, did the SGS2 make some baby of yours look like antique? You seem very deperate to rationalize away its leadership.
128. cheetah2k (Posts: 814; Member since: 16 Jan 2011)
My Motorola Atrix still got a 9.5
79. lacp (unregistered)
Mali it isn't weak. It's much stronger than Tegra 2 GPU. Five times because Nvidia Tegra 2 it has the same performance than PowerVR SGX540.
80. rayjones09 (Posts: 149; Member since: 16 Dec 2010)
I actually must concur. Though I favor this handset, with all that power, this should be the smoothest handset around. Period. As is evident, however, it is not. And to be honest, the improvements it does bring are relatively marginal. The only ones who would truly appreciate its improvements are those who like to tweak and work their phone to death. This is a great phone, yet, the greatest thing to me is the screen. Everything else is simply cool to have.
57. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
Hey PA, stick to reccommending phones that are out.. and in the same class.
That would limit you to... oooh... hmmm.. maybe an LG G2x.
"Hey, instead of this fully loaded ferrari enzo.. how about.. last years BMW.. or waiting till 2014, i hear there will be new cars out then"
Reccomending you wait to check out phones that arent out yet is rediculous. Why not just tell people to wait till the Galaxy 4 super duper mega amoled hologram phone is out?
60. chinakidoliver.iab (Posts: 75; Member since: 07 Dec 2010)
it has 9 and a half but that phone is beast
61. Mario (unregistered)
How can you give iPhone4 9,5/10?
- Sensor problems,
- Anetnna problems,
- No way to customize the handset after own needs and wishes! Stoneage?
- No types of widgets
- No way to get contacts on the homescreen
- No Flash
- No wireles sync
- Notification system that is bullshit compare to Android
- You can only sync the iPhone with ONE pc/mac
- Social Clients buildt in where?
- Only 3,5" IPS screen
And so on..
Do you call this a 9,5/10 product?
10 - A perfect product
9 - Nearly perfect, but...
8 - Great product with few flaws
7 - Solid product with some minor issues
6 - Decent, but not as good as it could be
5 - Fair; not great, but not horrible
4 - Okay, but we can't recommend it
3 - Very few redeeming qualities
2 - Almost no redeeming qualities
1 - Pure crap
So is really iPhone4 even an 8!?
73. leoking3 (unregistered)
They are PAID by the ishit company to compare everything to that user-friendly failure of a phone. Wake up people at PA!!! It has resolution? On a 3.5 display? Does it play a decent movie? Without buying a bullshit app? Jesus, when are you gonna wake up and stand up for yourselves?! I know we all work for money, but....wtf???
It doesnt even have delivery reports for sms!!!! Jesus!
94. captainqtp (Posts: 16; Member since: 25 Jun 2010)
I don't like Apple, I don't use Apple, but Phone Arena reviews the phones when they come to market.
Considering when the Iphone 4 hit, it was a top of the line device. I think the retina display is still king of the PPI measurements. Not only that, it had (arguably still has) the better application store on release.
Also, despite whatever specs pissing match you want to get into in comparing a phone released today to a phone released last summer, it is still remarkably snappy. I believe it warranted a 9.5.
Again, I'd never buy one, because I don't like Apple's closed ecosystem philosophy. I'd constantly feel trapped. That said, many people don't have a problem with Apple's approach.
179. Troll Police (unregistered)
You want to see some Apple bias? Go to Engadget
5. sak96 (Posts: 4; Member since: 12 Apr 2011)
Phonearena dnt dlt ma accnt or cmmnt plzz, I m saying the truth why did u gav iphone 9.5, this device should get 10/10. its the best phone in the market now. I hav iphone4 and this phone in ma hands now so i m saying it
98. Lucas777 (Posts: 2137; Member since: 06 Jan 2011)
well buddy when the iphone came iout it was best... when this phone comes out it wont be best... (sensation, evo 3d, ad thrill are better)
101. scruffle (unregistered)
3D phones are gay.
Galaxy s2 is king
102. Comatose (unregistered)
Have you ever played with the Thrill evo 3d or sensation? Admittedly the new htc sense 3.0 does look mouthwatering ,it is highly graphic intensive and hence manages to waste some of the raw power of the sensation and evo 3d .
Also i am not really a fan of the evo 3d as i think 3d in phones are pretty unnecessary and mostly a gimmick , atleast in present times.
The sensation is the only true rival to this phone , but it is hard to determine if it is better or not until we see some reviews.
157. Allday28 (Posts: 274; Member since: 19 Nov 2010)
I hate to break it to you but the ssgs2 is already blowing the doors off the over rated evo 3D and will continue to do so....
6. scruffle (unregistered)
This review is bogus.
This has to be the greatest phone to date and it receives only a 9???
It almost seems as if phonearena was just digging to find cons on this phone.
the cons listed are stupid and rediculous.
81. rayjones09 (Posts: 149; Member since: 16 Dec 2010)
Did you read the entire review? I'm quite sure if you did, you wouldn't call the entire thing bogus off of a simple rating.
7. Hallucinator (Posts: 344; Member since: 24 May 2010)
Sak96, you need to learn english. Scruffle, don't call something/someone ridiculous if you can't spell it correctly.
33. sak96 (Posts: 4; Member since: 12 Apr 2011)
dudd, i think u dont use social netwrks so u r blaming me, hey its jst fast typing
8. doubler86 (Posts: 318; Member since: 26 Jan 2011)
Yep a 9 is really to low there is no phone that has been announced to even compete with this phone. At minimum it should be a 9.5 and I would rate it a 10. I would get the Samsung Galaxy S II in a second if it came to Verizon in the US. Considering that the iPhone 4 when it came out already had the better EVO to contend with shortly after, this phone really doesn't have any competition as the best smart phone out right now. The EVO 3D is number 2 and that's not going to be out for at least 2 months. The downsides of this phone really don't bring it down, in rating. This phone deserves a better rating.
14. AndroidTroll (Posts: 359; Member since: 05 Mar 2011)
Check your facts. The original evo came out 3 weeks before iphone 4. Also, it's quite likely the Evo 3D will be released next month, although no one knows for sure... IMO the evo 3D is better because of the qHD glasses free 3D display, sense 3.0, and it's not made of plastic and by Samsung who doesn't give a damn about it's existing users. The Evo 3D just brings more innovation and reliability to the table. Thumbs up if you agree with me or thumbs up if you agree with doubler86 :-)
28. doubler86 (Posts: 318; Member since: 26 Jan 2011)
lol nice thumbs up both ways. I'm telling you right now if comes out next month, it's looking like late June at best. The Evo 3D may have a qHD screen but that matters very little when comparing to the Samsung screen. Super AMOLED Plus has proven to look amazing in comparison to HTC screens. When you look at the Samsung Charge and the HTC Thunderbolt, its just no comparison. The brighter look and clean text is amazing. While the text might be sharper on the Evo 3D of course because of the qHD, Samsung won't really look bad in comparison. As for the 3D display, there is a reason why the 3DS has sold incredibly less than nintendo thought it would, 3D glasses free technology needs to be angeled just right and gives people headaches more than making people say wow. Not to mention that it generally doesn't make the screen look as crisp when comparing to the same screen shot in 2D. So why would you care about having a qHD screen clarity just to lose it to 3D? Im pretty neutral when it comes to Touch Wiz 4 and Sense 3, I like both interfaces and they each have really good points. I think Touch WIz 4 though has a sense of simplicity that the average person will like more however. I'm not going to disagree with the past samsung phones being a bust with upgrades and backing cause well that would be dumb lol. In the end innovation is good but I'd say I'd prefer having a thinner lighter phone without the 3D. As is 3D is getting less and less popular. Keep trolling, as long as it's with Android
72. AndroidTroll (Posts: 359; Member since: 05 Mar 2011)
You make valid points. However, if you don't like 3D, just turn it off, no big deal. It's still fun to have the option. And the main reason the 3DS is off to a slow start is because there are no good games for it yet.True, touch wiz is simple, but it doesn't add as much functionality to the stock Android OS as sense does. And on the first Galaxy S it created a lot of lag. I am sure they have fixed many of those issues as the new touch wiz is a hell of a lot better than the last.
What I am most interested in is to see these two beasts in a fair benchmark test. As of yet, the Evo 3D's tests were pre release so they are way low as it is not optimized yet. Just wait a couple weeks and we will see some mind blowing scores that will hopefully best the Galaxy S2. Although I must hand it to samsung for the original Galaxy S for making the most powerful chipset at the time. It wasn't until recently that an htc phone bested it with the 2nd gen snapdragon as seen in the Desire HD and ThunderBolt. But this third gen chipset will be quite impressive...
lol I stopped trolling a while back because it's just not nice.
56. remixfa (Posts: 13903; Member since: 19 Dec 2008)
well, as long as you want to read text as small as possible, then QHD is a better screen. For EVERYTHING else, Super Amoled+ is the king of the hill from color, brightness, power usage, and everything else.
The whole "samsung hates its customers" thing is crap. They updated the phone and last i checked there werent too many HTC phones running gingerbread. GalaxyS is already recieving that update.
Bottom line is this phone does deserve a better rating. A 9 for a near perfect "future proof" phone.. and yet somehow they find a way to reccommend an iphone4 multiple times in the review.
Really.. the iphone4 isnt even in the same class as this phone its puney 3.5 inch screen with low end hummingbird chipset (yes thats right, not even the full featured hummingbird found in the SGS1, ibots), lower quality camera, calling issues, and more cant compare..
it has NOTHING on the SGS2 other than a shiney apple logo. Hell, even the app store is about to get over taken by android, so they wont have that to yack about either.
Anything less than a 9.5 is CRAP. Its insainly hard to get a perfect 10, but is there really a more deserving phone? NOPE.
158. Allday28 (Posts: 274; Member since: 19 Nov 2010)
LMAO!!! Did you really say that the evo 3D was better because it has 3D!!?? I knew it wasnt gonna be long before some nerd said that.. LOL!!! Sorry BUT THE GALAXY S2 IS ALREADY A BETTER PHONE!
159. Allday28 (Posts: 274; Member since: 19 Nov 2010)
Did you really just say the evo 3D is better cause it has 3D!!?? LMFOA!!! I knew it wasnt gonna be long before some nerd was gonna say that. SOrry to bust your ass but the ssgs2 is a beast and the evo 3D is gonna be #2 behind this phone like it or not buddy!!
160. Allday28 (Posts: 274; Member since: 19 Nov 2010)
But I do like HTC phones better but man this thing is a F!@#$%Y^ beast boi!!
175. davinci1993 (Posts: 2; Member since: 02 Jul 2011)
Yeah, even the T-Mobile G2 got a 9! This is the best smartphone till date with specs to shame a computer and they mention some stupid cons!
9. scruffle (unregistered)
13. json405 (unregistered)
Yeah, the Cons do not merit a point deduction for this phone. I say a fair assessment would be 9.5 or above. If there was a con regarding battery life or call quality, then I think a 9 would be appropriate. However, the cons listed aren't even real cons for day to day use.
15. vishak (unregistered)
WHERE IS THE VIDEO REVIEW PHONEARENA !!!!!
16. pratham (unregistered)
xperia ARC is best now.....sexy & smart ......with gr8 bravia ing. + xmor camera .....thump up....se
17. phonefreak (unregistered)
I bet the person who posted this review must be a fan of iphone, because all he talks about are the cons of GS II. In my opinion this phone is a real iphone-killer. I just love this phone n I m really upset the kind of review phonearena has posted.
18. bucky (Posts: 1422; Member since: 30 Sep 2009)
i think its a fair review. I think the confusion comes with the timing of the review. The bar has definitely been raised recently with the atrix and lg 2x phones. Great phone with the exception of the cheap samsung plastic and for my tastes, screen size.
Well done samsung. Now just keep word on those updates!
19. eren (unregistered)
lol..."Design could be a bit more differentiating"...design is subjective so i cant see any con here...
"Automatic screen brightness adjustments are not smooth"...and where are they? what exactly is smooth adjustment...?
"Motion sensor-powered gestures could see more practical usage"...even more lol...do you want to control whole point with motion sensor gestures? its horrible even for gaming and browsing and i never used it on any phone...
this is highest end mobile with zero competitors just now so i dont see any reasons to give it 9.5 like to that iPhone last year...
37. calamazoo (unregistered)
think Engadget mentioned that the screen just skips stages when going darker or lighter. i had a laptop once and the light sensor did the same thing - constantly jumping between one stage to another, it was pretty annoying so i taped it up with scotch tape and never looked back :-)
20. rtimi (unregistered)
Nice one phonearena, you have found a way to doug Samsung once again. I was hoping as I read along to become a fan once again of your websites but now I know you are truly biased about android and Samsung. How does an outdated, non future proof phone beat this phone. hint for you, it's not all about the app store.
82. rayjones09 (Posts: 149; Member since: 16 Dec 2010)
If you Android fans didn't make these superfluous comparisons to the iPhone, you all wouldn't be whining right now. I have never seen people complain over a 9/10!!! Complaining about a .5 difference! I could argue that the Omnia 7 should deserve a 10 or some other device. My annoying whines will be seen yet ignored. Omnia 7 got a 8.5/10. iPhone 4 got a 9.5/10. The Omnia 7 is my favorite phone. SHould I whine and cry? NO! I'm still alive and will have work to do. I think a phone's SUBJECTIVE rating is the last thing I need to worry about. How old are you people???
135. rayjones09 (Posts: 149; Member since: 16 Dec 2010)
Lol, thanks for answering my question.
112. vishu9 (Posts: 251; Member since: 03 Mar 2011)
"its not all about the app store"......true that!! Well said!
21. mr_roundtree (unregistered)
"The Samsung Galaxy S II records video in the .3GP format - we’d rather have .MP4 files..."
Are you sure about this? All other reviewers say GS2 records video in .mp4 format, not .3gp
22. phonefreak (unregistered)
Now that's call an comment well done @rtimi.
23. wtf (unregistered)
Laughed my ass off at the cons. Seriously, PA?
|Display||4.3 inches, 480 x 800 pixels (218 ppi) Super AMOLED Plus|
Samsung Exynos 4210, Dual core, 1200 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
1024 MB RAM
|Size||4.93 x 2.60 x 0.33 inches|
(125.3 x 66.1 x 8.49 mm)
4.09 oz (116 g)
|Battery||1650 mAh, 18.3 hours talk time|