Samsung Galaxy S II AT&T Review

Flinching for a moment can really make you miss something that’s supremely inviting, especially in the mobile world where it’s constantly evolving with each device that’s coming to market. Sure it can be considered a long time in the making, even more when the original model launched overseas a few months ago, but AT&T customers are undoubtedly going to satiate their appetites with the Samsung Galaxy S II. Not surprisingly, we’ve been treated to a host of other top-shelf smartphones already – but with this, its unprecedented offerings are already being profoundly felt in more ways than one. So as we said, you might want to sit kick back and stand still, because if you happen to flinch for a mere second, you might simply find the Samsung Galaxy S II too darn fast for you to handle. Let’s slow things a bit and break it down for you.

The package contains:

  • AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Health & Safety and Warranty Guide


So what more is there left to say about the design of AT&T’s version of the Samsung Galaxy S II? Well, for starters, it’s a bit more faithful to the original GSM model with its squared off corners and overall size – albeit, it’s a smidgen thicker at 0.35” at its thinnest point and omits the original’s physical home button. Sleek and sexy, it’s absolutely a wonderful thing to behold, since it’s deceptively light weight (4.3 oz.) thanks to its svelte all-plastic construction. The rear cover employs a textured plastic design that’s chic, but doesn’t come off as being as durable as the Captivate’s solid metal plating. Lastly, it’s still a wide looking handset that might seem too gargantuan in size for people with smaller hands to hold, but nevertheless, Samsung does a banging job in keeping it considerably hug fitting than its rivals.

You can compare the Samsung Galaxy S II AT&T with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.

After seeing the Infuse 4G pushing the threshold with screen sizes, AT&T’s Samsung Galaxy S II decides to keep it true to the original with its 4.3” WVGA (480 x 800) Super AMOLED Plus display. Nowadays, we’re kind of spoiled thanks to the qHD displays out there, but 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. Yet, its galvanizing beauty is most prevalent with its oversaturated color production, which can easily win over most people. Combining its great viewing angles and decent brightness out, we’re mesmerized by its polarizing display.

With its usual suspects of capacitive Android buttons, we’re glad to find accidental presses kept at a minimum. Meanwhile, a 2-megapixel front-facing camera is perched above the display ready for video chatting – with the thin and narrow earpiece close by.

Protruding out on the left edge, we like the distinct feel and the springy response with the handset’s volume rocker – however, the dedicated power button on the right side is not as pronounced. There’s a 3.5mm headset jack and noise-cancellation microphone placed on the top side of the phone, while the regular microphone and microUSB port reside on the opposite edge. With the microUSB port though, you can still get video-out by using an optional MHL adapter to connect it to a television.

Finally, the 8-megapixel auto-focus camera with LED flash sits squarely and prominently in the rear –with the speakerphone notches etched into the hump at the bottom. Prying off the flimsy plastic rear cover, we’re given access to its 1,650 mAh battery, SIM card slot, and spring loading microSD card slot.



1. nyamo

Posts: 274; Member since: Mar 19, 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: Apr 06, 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: 1545; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

Didn't you see the 'Near Field Communication' that was printed on the battery??

2. GJanee

Posts: 214; Member since: Jun 29, 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: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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: 292; Member since: May 03, 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: Apr 06, 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: 311; Member since: May 11, 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: Apr 06, 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: May 03, 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: Apr 06, 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: Nov 10, 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: 536; Member since: Jun 06, 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: 408; Member since: Sep 16, 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: 292; Member since: May 03, 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!

28. iDroidx650

Posts: 83; Member since: May 26, 2010

it works fine

8. rex0422

Posts: 30; Member since: Aug 12, 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: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 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: Apr 06, 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: May 03, 2011

touch wiz is a matter of opininion but how does it handicap this adds more features to it...

73. jroc74

Posts: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

I'm one of they few ppl that like the different custom UI's.

13. WirelessCon

Posts: 311; Member since: May 11, 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: Apr 06, 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: Apr 06, 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: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

2 factors: 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: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 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: 553; Member since: Jun 09, 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: 6023; Member since: Dec 30, 2010

Compared to the GS1, the GS2 would be a better choice for a few reasons: Exynos processor Samsung fixed the file system, lag issue GPS Battery life (?) Better screen More ram Front camera Reading what I typed...looks to be more than a few reasons, I initially was only gonna put 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.
Galaxy S II AT&T
  • Display 4.3" 480 x 800 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos, Dual-core, 1200 MHz
  • Storage 16 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1650 mAh(8.00h talk time)

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