US carrier versions of the Samsung Galaxy S II - was the wait worth it?

US carrier versions of the Samsung Galaxy S II - was the wait worth it?
The Samsung event in New York yesterday had our troops on the ground witnessing the official unveiling of all three US carrier versions of its current Android flagship phone Samsung Galaxy S II, but was it worth the wait? This phone was officially announced on February 13, and sales started April 28 in Samsung's own South Korea.

We remember people joking in the comments at the time that Verizon will get it in April 2012 then, and now we know that it will land on US soil 7 months after the initial announcement, in mid-September. Adding insult to injury, the phone got announced for the US about four months after it started hitting the shelves in other countries. In comparison, the first Samsung Galaxy S had a pompous unveiling event for all four major US carriers about a month after it appeared on sale globally last year.

The reasons for the delay are complex. Unlike last year, now the four major US carriers have enough enticing high-end Android phones one can choose from already, with qHD displays and dual-core chipsets, so they probably didn't want to cannibalize their sales just a few months after the devices entered their portfolios. Verizon is the Android top dog, and it won't even carry the Samsung Galaxy S II. Does it mean that it is expecting an even better phone from Samsung in the near future, like the rumored Samsung DROID Prime? Probably, but there might have also been other reasons that weighed in.

"Negotiations with American telecom companies have dragged on" about the Samsung Galaxy S II arrival on US shores, one Samsung executive was quoted saying. Samsung has obviously both updated the hardware a bit, and changed the design of the Galaxy S II for its American debut. The Samsung Epic 4G Touch for Sprint sports a 4.52" display, which will also grace T-Mobile's version. The AT&T Galaxy S II stays true to the original 4.3" screen, but that's most likely because it already has a 4.5-incher on offer with the Infuse 4G.

So it turns out that the rumor Samsung is contemplating both 4.3" and 4.5" Galaxy S II versions from way back in November last year, was true. All the more puzzling why the delay for the US versions then, if the difference in screen sizes has been planned all along since the announcement.

Then we have that pesky physical home key conspicuously absent from any of the US versions, replaced instead with capacitive button. Apple managed to achieve a preliminary injunction on the sales of the Galaxy S and Galaxy S II in the Netherlands last week precisely on the grounds of external similarities with the iPhone's patented design, so this refab probably took some time as well. Samsung is obviously not taking any chances to risk a similar claim in the US, and, furthermore, no carrier would be willing to spend money marketing a phone that might be banned from sales any time at the whim of an ITC judge.

So the delay is a done deal, September will see Sprint's Samsung Epic 4G Touch and AT&T's version hitting the shelves, with T-Mobile's to probably follow at the end of October. What will be the mobile landscape in the US then, and won't there be other handsets to aspire to in just a month or so?

In between Android Ice Cream Sandwich poster childs like the Nexus Prime, and dual-core phones with LTE connectivity like the Motorola DROID BIONIC, people will probably have a lot to choose from for the holidays on the Android front. Then there is the next iPhone, which will be launched around that time to further stir the cauldron.

So will those phones have advantages over the Samsung Galaxy S II enough to make you wait even more? In screen technology the answer might be yes, considering that the Nexus Prime is to sport that sweet Super AMOLED HD technology with 720x1280 pixels, which we hope to see announced at the IFA 2011 Expo this week by Samsung. PenTile matrix or not, an HD screen is certainly the next giant step in smartphone display evolution worth saving your money for. The next iPhone will also sport resolution higher than the 480x800 on the Galaxy S II, but its IPS-LCD screen uses a different technology. It might also take the crown of the thinnest smartphone in the US from AT&T's version of the Galaxy S II, but it is already so thin that the difference should be negligible. The choice of materials for the design might work to the iPhone's advantage, though.

Then there are the chipset and the camera - the dual-core Samsung Exynos is extremely powerful, so it is unlikely that TI's OMAP4460 that is rumored for the Nexus Prime, or Apple's A5 in the next iPhone will be significantly better. The only caveat is that Android Ice Cream Sandwich is being developed with TI's OMAP as its reference silicon, so ICS might work better with it, plus it will take time for the Galaxy S II versions to be updated to Google's newest mobile OS when it hits this year.

As for camera performance - the 8MP shooter on the Galaxy S II takes great photos, and records very smooth Full HD 1080p video, so you should be safe, nothing will change in that respect at least until the next generation, which will probably be able to record Full HD with 60fps instead of 30, and that's about it. The rumored 5MP shooter for the Nexus Prime is an eyebrow-raiser, but if it uses the new DSP algorithms in the OMAP4460 chipset, the resolution, as usual, is not a good indicator for the photo and video quality.

To wrap it up we'd say that even in September, the US carrier versions of the Samsung Galaxy S II will be one of the best Android phones you can get out there, with most of their features representing the best mobile hardware money can buy. The delay of its official arrival in the US, though, makes waiting a month or so more before you pull the trigger a wise choice.

By then we should have more info which carriers will be sporting the Nexus Prime and when. If you are on Verizon, you'll have no other choice but wait anyway; if you are on other carriers, it is advisable to sit tight in September, and keep your eyes peeled for our news and reviews in order to avoid buyer's remorse.



1. DontHateOnS60

Posts: 872; Member since: Apr 20, 2009

Where the hell is the 32GB version?

2. Britneyj unregistered

Well I think the att version is the one that looks more like the European version. Just by looking at the back camera. Look at the European s2 and look at the back camera and look at the att s2 it has the same back camera design. The sprint one the back camera looks totally different I personally don't like it. The t-mobile version well who knows how its gonna look from the back cuz they haven't showed it but I'm pretty sure it will also looks totally different. Me I will be getting the att version because T-Mobile and sprint both suck in my area of LA. Only att and Verizon work good in my area and since Verizon wont be getting this phone att here I come. It's too bad sprint sukz in my area cuz I like there cheap plans...

30. Goldeneye

Posts: 419; Member since: Jan 22, 2011

that's why Sprint is cheap!

37. ibap

Posts: 871; Member since: Sep 09, 2009

Coverage varies. Where our daughter is in school, ATT is a zero, and VZW is nearly a zero. Sprint, Alltel and T-mobile work fine, but T-mob is lousy in general in our area as soon as you leave a major highway. And of course ATT looks more like the European version - all they change is the GSM bands.

3. Azure01

Posts: 127; Member since: Aug 16, 2011

Samsung messed up big time because as PA says it's smarter to wait at least a month or even two in order to see if anything better comes along, no doubt the delay will decrease their projected sales.

4. DJShades unregistered

Nope, I'm holding out for the Prime.. I can wait a quarter for a superior device. I'd have been all over the SGII if it launched 4+ months ago and kicked myself when the Prime dropped. Luckily now because of Samsung's foolish mistake I benefit and will enjoy my Prime.

5. Bobby Z unregistered

I for one am waiting for the Prime. I already have an Infuse to tide me over. I'm too in love with this 4.5" screen to go back down even .2" :D Seriously though, the thought of having an vanilla Google phone that will receive timely updates, and have pretty much every app just work with it is good enough reason to pass on everything else. I've never purchased any Nexus strictly because of the screen size and specs. This next one sounds like they got it right so I'm in.

6. bucky

Posts: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

its taken a while to come on the market in the US but what exactly is faster than it? The nexus prime looks to be great but apart from the screen there is nothing that much better. 1.5 ghz? sgs2 can go there as well. Iphone 5 looks like it will be fast but its the same old interface that will bore me just the same as the iphone 4.

7. darth8ball

Posts: 520; Member since: Aug 02, 2011

Not for me. No Big Red on that release list. The Function (Verizon version) I guess it's not coming out :-(

8. snowgator

Posts: 3621; Member since: Jan 19, 2011

Yep. Wait on the Thunderbolt. That LTE monster will be state of the art fast. What's that? The Bionic is coming? Okay, I will wait on that. Well worth it. Huh? It is delayed? OK. I will just hold out for the EVO 3D. Huh? The Photon? Really? Huh, it might be as good as the bionic, I'll just hold out so I do not miss anything. REALLY??? They are FINALLY coming out with the GS2?? OK!! Now I can wait on the GS2. What is that? NEXUS Prime? Droid Prime?? QUAD-CORE???? Sigh, maybe 2012 ain't that far away. Just to be sure. Wouldn't want buyer's remorse....

10. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 2011

This is an exact representation of the major mobile f**k-up we call 2011. All problems would've been solved with an on-time release of the SGS2 and Bionic but nooooooooooo. I'm just getting the Prime and I'm calling it quits. After that I will be putting a personal firewall block on Engadget, PhoneArena, BGR, Phandroid, Gizmocrunch, and Twitter. I seriously don't want to deal with the hell that this year has given thus far.

11. droidiphonetossup unregistered

hahahaha lol exactly. At this rate why get any phone. I am just going to carry quarters and use them in pay phones or just get a beeper.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

I could not have said it better myself snow. Very well spoken!

9. fascinatevw unregistered

Like the last Galaxy S series release (Fascinate)--you kidding me.. Right!!! Not waiting, nor buying ANY series from Samsung....

12. Synack

Posts: 688; Member since: Jul 05, 2011

The Fascinate was/is a damn good phone, it just took a long ass time to get Froyo. The only way I was able to put up with it was by flashing everything that XDA had to offer.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

yea people need to stop whining. The sgs2 has the latest version of android and I doubt most phones out now will get ice cream anyway.

34. zuno gyakusatsu

Posts: 257; Member since: Mar 16, 2010

the fascinate a damn good phone??!? hahahahahah thats a good one.

13. corps1089

Posts: 492; Member since: Jan 20, 2010

Maybe the delay was to remove the home button to avoid Apple suits & calls for banning sales in the US...

14. remyrz

Posts: 205; Member since: Oct 28, 2010

I prefer european version :)

26. dj unregistered

amen. i was waiting and hoping but the bigger screen is a deal breaker for me.


Posts: 3131; Member since: Jan 12, 2010

I would highly recommend getting the sgs2. If you keep waiting on the next big thing you are just going to keep waiting. The latest software and hardware doesn't always mean its better. The sgs2 has already proved that it runs great and has a gorgeous display. the droid prime is just a rumor and the release date of October is also a rumor. Honestly we have all waited enough to finally get a great android super phone and I'm done waiting. September 16th can't come soon enough.

19. Dj21o

Posts: 437; Member since: May 19, 2011

Exactly what I am saying. I have a new contract to get with Sprint, and I almost kept waiting. I'm done with it. The GSII will keep me occupied for at least two years, if not longer. :)

28. almost agree unregistered

I agree with you for the most part.. however! I think we are at one of those pivotal times in phone technology.. we're on the brink of the next jump in display resolution and with Ice Cream, the possibility to remove the capactive buttons. To me, it's worth waiting a bit longer to get the 1280 resolutoin on a hopeful 4.5" screen.. I just hope to hell it includes a notification light!

16. fascinatevw unregistered

The Fascinate is a underpowered, low RAM, out of date--took forever to get Froyo phone with signal reception equal to 1 bar 90% of the time. Samsung JUST released a OTA to properly connect incoming calls....and now the phone is discontinued and selling for $39.99 on VW, along with it's sister the Continuum for $ which the brother to them all The Charge is selling for one cent... go figure..

22. TeamDR unregistered

Lol, Funny but true. That Droid Charge was such a joke. It doesn't even deserve the Droid branding.

20. DigitalMD2 unregistered

You know what would ring my bell? A major cell carrier annouching a smartphone data plan with unlimited, un-throttled data and talk for $35 a month including tax, fees, etc. That would ring my bell. Until they stop gouging the customer on everything, no shiny, highspeed paper weight gets me juiced. Oh yeah and they should stop spending money on magazines and blogs that front for them pretending to be reviewers when they are just advertising.

21. Daniel.P

Posts: 127; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

Hmm, actually the Samsung Galaxy S II will be quite the impulse buy. Don't get me wrong, all the points stated in the article are valid, but I remember how excited we were when we got the preview unit in the office, and fired up the browser for the first time - very close to the desktop experience. Moreover, if the ilk of Amazon or Walmart let it out half-price two weeks after launch, it is definitely going to score huge sales. We'll save judgement until we see those high-res Super AMOLED screens in the next days, as that's a huge selling point for the Nexus Prime... that, and ICS, of course :-)

23. cappy718 unregistered

Bionic...SGS2...Prime....wth!!!! Just tell us what you're putting out for real VZW. Note: I know they've said they're doing the Bionic, but I frankly dont think it measures up to the SGS2, Vigor or Prime - so it's old news and outdated before it's released. If they dont get the Vigor or Prime out soon...I'm done with them...may even pay the early termination fee. What good is the "best" network if, 1. I still dont get reception at work and 2. Sprint is the wireless provider of choice at most military bases and gets great reception on base (matters to me since I'm military) and 3. Sprint offers the best most up to date phones. I really think Sprint may stick it out better than some of you may think. If VZW keeps throwing crap phones at it's customers--they will leave eventually....

24. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

if it launches in september on Tmobile ill probably get it. If if launches in october which is the rumored Nexus release date, then I'll probably hold off and compare the 2. I've been itching for this darn thing for so long it will be hard not to buy it. lol

25. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

other sites are speculating that the hercules wasnt allowed to be played with because it does indeed have that craptastic snapdragon processor in it which is the only way they think that it could achieve 42mb/s.. apparently the difference would have been obvious between the monsterous exynos and the dainty snapdragon. GRR if this is true, im going into depression mode again. give me a quart of ben n jerry's and turn on ophra... Nexus Prime anyone? lol

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