Samsung Galaxy S II AT&T Review

Introduction and Design

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.


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.

Primarily thanks to its wealthy real estate, 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.

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Whether it’s the Samsung Mail app or Gmail one, the 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.


Running the camera app, there isn’t any change with its layout as we’re given plenty of focus on what we’re shooting with the viewfinder. On the right side, we find the on-screen shutter key, toggle switch for video/still shot mode, and the preview window for the gallery. Meanwhile, the customizable left edge plays home to four different icons that you can select for quick access – with the settings icon fixed on there for good. Without a doubt, there are plenty of shooting modes and manual settings that are available to appease even some of the most hardened photo enthusiasts.

Holy smokes Batman! The AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II just might take the trophy in the photo taking department because its 8-megapixel snapper is astoundingly dreamy – and the results really do show! We can talk aplenty about its sharp details and excellent color tones that tangibly express the kind of raw power that this baby has to offer, but you’ll need to look at the samples for yourself to see how it talks the talk and walks the walk. However, it’s still prone to in low lighting conditions where graininess is evident, but still detailed enough to accept – plus, its potent LED flash perfectly counters any deficiencies.

Equally impressive, the handset’s 1080p video capture is seemingly on a level on its own as we’re treated with plenty of delicious visuals with its quality. For starters, there are plenty of distinctive details that are visible throughout the recording as it chugs along at a buttery smooth rate of 30 frames per second. Additionally, throw in its ability to offer clear audio recording and continuous auto-focus, it supremely meshes together to give us the best quality on a handset in recent memory.

Samsung Galaxy S II AT&T Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy S II AT&T Indoor Sample Video:


Strange to say the least, this latest version of TouchWiz doesn’t add any love to the music player on the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II – and in fact, it’s the usual fanfare that we’ve been seeing on other Samsung devices. Again, woe clearly see that this version of TouchWiz is handicapped since there is no music player widget available, but rather, we’re left relying on accessing it through the notifications panel if we happen to exit out of it. With a few different equalizer settings available, the audio quality is decent with its audible tones, but far from being boisterous with its output.

Exuding a feverish rate with its performance already in other categories, not even a high quality movie trailer encoded in DivX, H264, MPEG-4, and Xvid 1920x1080 resolution can stop it from playing it smoothly without hesitance. On top of that, its sizable and brilliant looking Super AMOLED Plus display just makes the experience even dreamier with its polarizing visuals – thus, culminating in giving us one awesome video watching experience that’s sure to please.

We might gloat over having to dish out some hard-earned cash to purchase an optional MHL adapter, but the handset is then able to offer video-out functionality. For those who simply prefer a wired connection, as opposed to wireless with DLNA, this solution is by far the easiest when it comes to sharing multimedia content.

For the price, its 16GB of total internal storage is more than sufficient – while allowing for more room since its microSD card slot is unoccupied. Of the 16GB, 11.36GB is reserved for USB storage, while another 1.73GB is left for apps.

Internet and Connectivity:

Sheesh! As if we couldn’t expect any more fluid executions with its performance, we find it once again very rampant in the web browsing department. Thanks to its 4G HSPA+ “with enhanced backhaul” connectivity, complex web pages load in a jiffy – but even better, its navigational controls are absolutely responsive. All in all, this is hands-down the best as it can get for right now seeing that it doesn’t flinch even for a mere moment in the wake of Flash content.

Being a GSM world phone and all, it’ll work in just about every corner around the world, but with its 4G HSPA+ connection, results are still in the range of 3G speeds. Specifically, we’re able to get download and upload speeds of 3.5Mbits/s and 1.7Mbits/s respectively, which are good, but not at the levels to warrant next-gen speeds. Besides that, it features other connectivity items such as aGPS, Bluetooth 3.0, and 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi. With the latter, it’s able to give us a strong connection with its mobile hotspot functionality.


For a top-shelf smartphone and all, we’re a bit taken back by the few third party apps preloaded with the handset. Naturally, it can be regarded as a good thing seeing that we’re not left wasting time at the beginning trying to uninstall stuff. Specifically, they include AllShare, Amazon Kindle, Qik Lite, Quickoffice, Video Maker, Words Free, and YPmobile. However, AT&T’s presence is in full form with its laundry list of branded apps – like AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Navigator, Live TV, myAT&T. Last, but certainly not least, Samsung is able to establish themselves as well with Kies Air and Media Hub.


Getting a lot of A+ grades so far, the handset is only able to provide us with average calling quality seeing that its earpiece is rather low in output – thus, making voices sound mute and reserved in tone. Conversely, our callers managed to fare better with the rich and robust voices they’re able to hear on their end of the line. Switching to the speakerphone, its volume output is seemingly strong, but voices are choppy sounding.

Excellent in getting adequate signal strength in high coverage areas, we didn’t experience any dropped calls during our testing within the greater Philadelphia region.

Who knows what it is, but we’re left desiring for more battery life with the handset. Using it extensively after a full charge, we’re able to get 10 hours on heavy usage, which means that power users will want to charge this as much as they can. For light users, it’ll be more than adequate in giving them a solid one day of usage, but it’s going to be something that will require nightly charges.


If you held off from buying the Samsung Infuse 4G to experience Super AMOLED Plus goodness, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear knowing that the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II is by far the best thing to come around from Sammy’s camp on the airwaves of the carrier. Literally, everything about this handset screams top-notch performance as it’s easily one of the most powerful Android smartphones we’ve had the opportunity of checking out of late.

Not only that, but there are plenty of finger licking goodies packed in for the ride to justify its ripe arrival. Whether you’re new to the smartphone realm or a hardened veteran user, the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II is the handset to side with right now if you happen to have a cool $200 stuffed in your pockets. From its lovely Super AMOLED Plus display to its screaming 1.2GHz dual-core processor, it’s packed to the brim with enough bountiful hardware to make it a standout hit amongst the littered crop out there.

Obviously, there are other alternative waiting in the bushes that might prove to be a bit more value since they’re priced considerably less – like the Motorola ATRIX 4G and LG Thrill 4G. Nevertheless, the $200 price point is indeed fitting for the Samsung Galaxy S II as it establishes itself as the premier Android smartphone on AT&T’s lineup. Don’t sleep on this one because it’s worth the money!

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android Version: 2.3.4
Kernel Version:

Samsung Galaxy S II for AT&T Video Review:


  • Ridiculous fast performance all around
  • Deep & saturated colors with its Super AMOLED Plus display
  • Shoots detailed photos & videos
  • Razor thin construction


  • WVGA screen resolution
  • Handicapped TouchWiz experience

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

4 Reviews

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