Samsung Galaxy S II Preview
The Samsung Galaxy S raised the bar for a high-end Android phone by combining a powerful chipset with an innovative screen technology. Sammy sold millions of those, and now we have the sequel – Samsung Galaxy S II – for a preview round.
Samsung has gone dual-core with the chipset now, upped the screen size to 4.3”, and slapped the newest 4.0 version of its TouchWiz Android skin. The display technology has also been upgraded to its newest version – Super AMOLED Plus, but will these be enough for a worthy sequel to one of the most successful Android handsets? Dabble in our preview to find out...
Thin is in, people! Have you ever held a bar of slim dark Hershey's chocolate before it starts melting in your hand? That's exactly how Forest Gump would describe the feel he gets from the Samsung Galaxy S II. The crown of the slimmest smartphone this side of Japan is taken for this year, and it will be a tough one to beat.
You can compare the Samsung Galaxy S II with many other phones using our Size Visualization Tool.
The 4.3” screen evokes one word – fantastic. Super AMOLED Plus delivers better perceived resolution than Super AMOLED on the 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 on the Galaxy S II.
The Super AMOLED Plus display is also 18% brighter and thinner 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 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, and you can boost the intensity even further from the maximum when framing your shots in camera mode or watching videos in the player, as there is an additional mode there, 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 the DNIe + 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. Unlike Mobile Bravia, however, which automatically fires up when you watch pictures or video, here we can also choose from the Settings list how to set the screen, as there are three modes available – Dynamic, Standard and Movie - much as on our Samsung TV at home. Dynamic boosts the colors and brightness, while the Movie mode brings a more toned down, cinematic atmosphere to the image. Besides the general display mode, in the video player you can also set color warmth and adjust individual brightness level.
The 0.33” (8.49mm) Samsung Galaxy S II preview unit we are holding leaves you with a totally different impression than its predecessor – the Galaxy S. The design is still all-plastic, but the back cover has a textured surface that differentiates the Galaxy S II from the typical polished backs. The etched edges of the 8MP camera area are the only thing that sticks out in an otherwise bland back. We don't mind the all-plastic design, since you come to appreciate this material whenever you are holding a phone beast with a 4.3” display, as it makes huge handsets feel feathery.
The Galaxy S II is extremely light for its size, it weighs about the same as its first edition, but the feel in your hand is of a large, strictly rectangular block. It's rather tall and wide, though, and not very comfortable to hold - the rounded forms of the original Galaxy S suit us better than the bar of chocolate the Galaxy S II is, so there will be some adjustment period with it.
The 8MP camera has an LED flash this time around, and the phone records the sound accompanying captured videos in stereo, thanks to the microphone duo, which also serves noise-cancellation duties. We don't have stereo speakers like on the LG Optimus 2X, for example, but 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.