Samsung Galaxy S II Preview

Interface and Functionality:

The new TouchWiz 4.0 doesn't radically change the UI concept, but there are a number of nice visual touches, like a redrawn icon set, throughout the homescreens and menus. Not serving much practical purpose, but great eye-candy nonetheless.


Navigating around, while editing the homescreens and the main menu, has also been graced with a novelty. Hold a widget icon from the animated set that appears at the bottom, and the motion gestures kick in – you can tilt the phone left and right to move around the carousel of homescreens, until you reach the one you want to place the widget on.


The other new gesture – zooming by tilting the phone up and down -  is also not very practical, since you need to have two points of contact with the touchscreen. If we have to use two fingers for that, we might as well just pinch-to-zoom, and that's exactly what we did.

Overall, the gestures that use motion sensors to navigate around the interface, are much more useful the way they are done in LG's new handsets. In the LG Optimus 2X tapping on the sides can move the text cursor, for example, while on the LG Optimus Black we could pan around a webpage by tilting the phone in any direction. In the Galaxy S II the motion sensor-powered gestures mostly serve the coolness factor.

There is another phone navigation option, which has received focus in the Samsung Galaxy S II – voice commands. In addition to the usual voice app suspects Voice Search and Voice Recorder, Sammy has partnered with Vlingo to bring in Voice Command, Voice Translate and Zero Clickr.  The last one uses your voice to manage the phone, and type with only your voice in the most useful for that situations – while driving, for example. When the phone is connected to a car dock, you can also double-tap its top to start a voice command session.



The interface behaved fine, even on our preproduction unit. Lag is barely there, and the dual-core 1GHz Samsung Exynos chipset carries its duties with pride, no doubt thanks to the 1GB RAM as well, of which 880MB are user available, probably the largest amount on an Android phone. There are also  16GB of internal memory, and an additional memory card slot for more.

We ran Quadrant on the Galaxy S II, and got about 2000, which is less than the other dual-core chipset achievements out there, like the Tegra 2 in the Atrix 4G, and OMAP4 in the LG Thrill for AT&T. Our Samsung Galaxy S II unit, however, is not final yet, and the retail version has the clock frequency 20% higher, at 1.2GHz, so we should be getting much better synthetic benchmark results from the finalized unit. For now it doesn't really matter, since there is nothing to take advantage of a dual-core phone chipset in Android Market, the real benefits are Full HD 1080p video recording, and faster browsing, which we will examine in a bit.

Internet, Connectivity and Software:

The Android 2.3 Gingerbread browser on the Samsung Galaxy S II gets a good speed boost from the dual-core Exynos chipset. We observed the same thing with Tegra 2-based phones, since now the second core can keep rendering the page, while the first one executes one script or another, thus speeding up page loading times quite a bit, with all the JavaScript and Adobe Flash elements to boot.


We got 47621 points in the mobile BrowserMark test from the Samsung Galaxy S II, while the LG Optimus 2X got 42924. Compare that to a modern 1GHz single-core chipset like the Hummingbird one in the Galaxy S, which got 37621, and you get the drift. All three handsets were updated to Adobe Flash 10.2.

Synthetic benchmarking aside, browsing with our prototype Galaxy S II felt very snappy and smooth. The browser here has taken a trick out of Apple's Safari book, as it stops rendering the page when you do pinch-to-zoom or double-tap, to ensure fluid execution, and resumes when you lift your fingers off.

There is a very slight lag when scrolling, the screen starts following your finger a split second after movement, but that might be due to the non-final software we have on our unit. Unfortunately, you can't pan around the page, while you are doing pinch-to-zoom, like on the iPhone 4, or the new Sony Ericsson Android handsets.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is loaded with connectivity options – 21Mbps HSPA +, 3G, A-GPS, high-speed Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, FM Radio, you name it. To top it all off, it is one of the first handsets (the rest being HTC's newest crop) to sport the Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). It fits an HDMI-out port in a microUSB connector profile, so you can simultaneously mirror your phone's screen on an HDTV while watching movies or playing games, and charge the handset, which will ensure hours of gameplay or movie nights. We hope the adapter cable will be included in the retail box, since we couldn't find any such MHL cables online, besides one HTC accessory on preorder, which costs around $30.

The options to access the phone's content have increased in the Galaxy S II, compared to the Galaxy S. Besides the AllShare app for streaming multimedia to DLNA-enabled TVs or other gear, we now have Kies Air, which allows you to access your phone from your computer, if you are on the same Wi-Fi network. Just type the IP address visible on the phone's screen in the browser, and you are presented with a tidy interface linking to all content on your phone – contacts, pictures, videos, text messages, and so on. You can copy files to and from the Galaxy S II this way, send a text message or email, and even play music and videos that are in the phone, on your computer.


We'd be remiss not to mention the four Hubs Samsung is supplying with the Galaxy S II. The Social Hub we've met before, and we also have Music, Readers and Games Hubs. They all have easy to navigate interfaces, and searching for music, books, games or magazines is made easy, while the option to show you what's hot in each category is pretty helpful. The Games Hub seems predominantly occupied by Gameloft titles in the Premium games section, probably since those are not listed in Android Market.



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34 Comments

1. Noname unregistered

Do you have scores of GLBenchmark??

10. jogutier

Posts: 324; Member since: Feb 12, 2010

Sorry but Samsung isn't tricking me again with the S series. My Fascinate still doesn't have 2.2. Ain't that some poopoo, but i'm loving my Thunderbolt. :) HERCULES, HERCULES !!!!!

13. testman22

Posts: 339; Member since: Nov 03, 2009

galaxy s 2 blows the thunderbolt out of the water

17. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

ya honestly if u expected quick updates u shudnt have boughten android... i dont hear u complaining ur thunderbolt isnt on 2.3... prejudiced...

31. bucky

Posts: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

never buy a samsung.

21. Eingild unregistered

Dude, the reason why your Fascinate was stuck in 2.1 is that your carrier won't simply allow it. 2.3 update is already available for the original Samsung Galaxy S without any carrier crap.

32. bucky

Posts: 3794; Member since: Sep 30, 2009

and if they get any closer to an iphone design i honestly think people will get confused.

2. Neal unregistered

Can't wait until this comes out in may for the U.K! :)

3. belovedson

Posts: 1061; Member since: Nov 30, 2010

Ahem ahem ladies and gentlemen. we got another big seller from samsung.

4. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

anyone doubt it would be awesome? For PA to say its awesome over an iphone4, it must be super duper duper awesome.. lol.

5. 3MTA3 unregistered

Nah, if this were Engadget the device would get a 6 or 7 rating. Slap a label of a fruit on it and it instantly gets a 9+ rating. The best would have been if this phone was leaked as the new ifone 5 label and all then peel the logo off and admit it is a Samsung not apple! Ha, that would be great!

8. Kjayhawk

Posts: 294; Member since: Oct 07, 2010

I trust Phonearena to give this one an honest score. When you look back at it all of the scores they have given are honest. REALLY they just over shot the iPhone 4. Which it 100% deserved until the hardware malfunction was figured out, Phonearena had already reviewed the product and chose not to update or change the score, which is respectable. The last thing you should know is phonearena staff I would think use iPhones as there personal phones. Yes they do use a spectrum of phones for reviewing but have one phone as there main. Making this myth of android being so confusing. Remember when you had used a windows computer all your life and then you used a mac and found it super confusing... same thing happens in phone OS. I am very excited to see the Phonearena review without a doubt in my mind it will recieve a 9.5. Only con will be some weird exterior design they had a problem with

9. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

lol, if you go look at actual PA reviews of the iphones, they spend the whole article going "the iphone doesnt do this or that or this and the competition does this but the iphone still doesnt... yet.. its an iphone, so it gets a 9.7!" sorry, but if the phone doesnt at least have the features of the other phones, it shouldnt get a higher score because of personal fanboyism.. dont review if you cant be objective. its that easy and simple. whatever they give the SGS2, they will give the iphone 5 a higher score.

6. zach44

Posts: 22; Member since: Apr 15, 2011

So is it 4g or 3G?

7. Kjayhawk

Posts: 294; Member since: Oct 07, 2010

it has hspa capabilities so I would say yes.

26. PHONE_FREAK

Posts: 51; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

You forgot the "+". hspa+

11. pookie unregistered

I wont lie the screen does look amazing and the the phone is physically ok but it still doesnt have the aesthetic appeal of htc's phones or their ui, touchwiz pales in comparison to sense and to me thats one of the defining characteristics of a phone the ui. Just my honest opinion.

18. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

no if u actually use touchwiz it is pretty good. its second only becuase it doesnt look as nice. it has much more functionality than sense. not saying sense is bad but it has more pretty animations than real productivity. just look at the apps menu. scrolling up and down is inconvenient. touchwiz fixes that by going horizontal.

12. ADS unregistered

Nice one. One question, can xvid 720p files open on this phone?

14. Jerry.Stolarik unregistered

It looks like SII will play xvid 720p. I'm really happy that the SII can play .mkv video format. That makes it worth having the 1080p playback. When can we expect full review phonearena.? THX

15. Mikeypopps unregistered

If the main issue jogutier is having android 2.1 on your fascinate. Why haven't you just changed the rom. I agree samsung said they would have updated it since november last year but the solution has been there for longer. It only takes half an hour of your time to learn and do. Plus all the benefits of super user apps. Use xda forums it's your friend. The galaxy s 2 is my perfect spec set and I'm not gonna buy it any time soon cause my captivate with cognition mod is so slick it would just be vanity to buy another phone.

19. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

haha well he probably just doesnt know what all that is...

27. PHONE_FREAK

Posts: 51; Member since: Oct 20, 2010

Man, my T-mobile wing can take your captivate anyday! Got that 2.0-megapixel camera with digital zoom, Video capture and playback music 2.8-inch RESISTIVE diagonal, 65K-color screen with 240 x 320 px! Combine that with a processor thats OVER 200MHz! And you have the best phone EVER!

35. rayjones09

Posts: 149; Member since: Dec 16, 2010

This has to be one of the most logical comments I've ever seen on PhoneArena. Good job.

16. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

then call me vain! :) My vibrant is modded to perfection, but im still gonna retire it when the sgs2 comes out. :)

22. Afenix

Posts: 4; Member since: Feb 13, 2011

Samsung seem to have done a really good job here, but where I live (East Europe), that price tag is going to be just way too much for me :/ I think I'm just gonna stick with my Xperia Arc for a few years :)

24. Tre-Nitty

Posts: 470; Member since: Nov 16, 2010

Nice looking phone. I like my inspire with cm7 on it overclocked to 1.5ghz but the s2 does look good.

25. phonejockey unregistered

So will this phone be released on Verizon or AT&T? the signal of HSPA makes me think at&t, but all other sites are listing it on verizon because of the leaked verizon road map. any ideas for a carrier for us in the states?

28. zan unregistered

must have apps, widgets and other hacks for Androidhttp://ok-interesting.blogspot.com/search/label/sandroid

29. zan unregistered

must have apps, widgets and other hacks for Android ok-interesting.blogspot.com/search/label/sandroid
Galaxy S II
  • Display 4.3" 480 x 800 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 2 MP front
  • Processor Samsung Exynos 4 Dual, Dual-core, 1200 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB + microSDHC
  • Battery 1650 mAh(9.00h 3G talk time)

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