Samsung Galaxy S II Review
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA and AT&T.


We said that if you give the pre-production Samsung Galaxy S II to Forrest Gump, he might try to have a bite and say it’s because it felt like a bar of slim dark chocolate in his hand. Well, the top-shelf version we are holding now feels like that too. At the same time though its shell and inner workings have been ironed out just where it counts to shape the Android smartphone to beat this year.

Is it a worthy sequel to the Samsung Galaxy S, which was the Android phone to beat last year? After all,  the green robot got equipped with the most powerful chipset and the most innovative screen technology at the time… will history repeat itself?

Samsung has gone dual-core with the chipset now, made the thinnest smartphone outside of Japan, upped the screen size to 4.3”, the camera to 8MP with flash, and slapped the newest 4.0 version of its TouchWiz Android 2.3 Gingerbread skin.

The display technology has also been innovated on, to the tune of 50% increase in perceived pixel count, but will these all be enough for the Samsung Galaxy S II to reach its ten million units sold target goal in 2011? Breeze through our review to find out...


So how thin is the Samsung Galaxy S II; what does 0.33” (8.49mm) really mean? The answer is so much so, that there’s an air gap between your palm and the back of the phone, and you always end up trying to squeeze it with four fingers on one side to the base of your palm on the other, so as not to drop it.

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

This is mainly due to the fact that the handset comes pretty wide, even for our larger than average hands - the Samsung Galaxy S II is actually one of the widest Android handsets, only giving way to some of HTC's high-ends.

We’d rather have the Sony Ericsson Xperia arc approach, to be honest – its screen is 4.2”, and it is almost as thin as the Galaxy S II, but is less wide, and fits very comfortably in the hand. SE’s “human curvature” design philosophy wins the ease of handling here, against the high-tech rectangular slab approach of Samsung’s labs.

That’s the only gripe we have with the design, but we guess that’s the price to pay for having a Super AMOLED Plus display. From what we know about the technology, Sammy was most likely forced to work the design around the display dimension template, not the other way around.
The other gripe we had with the design of the pre-production version – the back cover flexing inwards - has been largely dealt with in the retail phone. The battery cover is still paper-thin, but now the air gap between it and the battery inside, is almost non-existent, so no flexing when you push  the back in with your finger.

The 4.3” screen evokes one word – fantastic. Super AMOLED Plus delivers better perceived resolution than Super AMOLED on the Samsung 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 than on the Galaxy S, which has interpolated resolution of 392x653 pixels.

The Super AMOLED Plus display is also brighter, consumes 18% less energy, and comes in a thinner package 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 Retina Display-like 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. Besides, you can boost the screen intensity significantly when framing your shots in camera mode, or watching videos in the player. There is an additional mode for that in these apps, 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  mDNIe+ - a mobile version of the 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.  The display section in the Settings app allows you to choose from three general background modes – Dynamic, Standard and Movie – just as on our Samsung HDTV at home. Dynamic deepens the blacks for a visible contrast boost, casting away some detail in the process, while Movie mode brings a more toned down, cinematic atmosphere to the image.

In addition to these general display modes, while running video the player settings let you manually decide on the color warmth, and also adjust an individual brightness level. For all these improvements, the Super AMOLED Plus still has that blueish tint, which means its color representation is on the colder side.Contrast and viewing angles are still as good as they come on a mobile display, thanks to the AMOLED technology. On auto setting the light sensor doesn’t cope with adjusting the brightness smoothly, but rather skips through stages, which can get annoying if you are reading something, but it looks like a software issue, which might be fixed with a firmware update.

To recap the design overview we’d say that the etched edges of the 8MP camera area on the back are the only thing that sticks out of an otherwise bland plastic black chassis. The camera has an LED flash this time around, and the phone records any sounds accompanying the captured Full HD videos in stereo, thanks to the microphone duo, which also serves noise-cancellation duties. 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.

We don't mind the all-plastic design, however, since you come to appreciate this material whenever you are holding a phone beast with a 4.3” display, as it makes the Samsung Galaxy S II feel feathery – it weighs about the same as its first edition.

This, of course, is a subjective preference – some like more the unibody aluminum design of HTC’s hunks of a phone. After just a day or two spent with the device, it actually grew on us, and didn’t feel uncomfortable to hold, we just got used to it.

Samsung Galaxy S II 360-degrees View:



1. touness69 unregistered

What ?? the iPhone 4 has 9.5 and this one 9 ? R U SERIOUS This is by far the best handset to date it even deserved an unprecendeted 10/10 How can say "Motion sensor-powered gestures could see more practical usage" when no other phone have motion controls ?? Phonearena = definitely biased to the bone

12. AndroidTroll

Posts: 359; Member since: Mar 05, 2011

I thought the same thing. Iphone 4 should not even be mentioned as a recommendation in this review because it is way out of it's league compared to the Galaxy S 2! I swear PA gets paid every time they recommend iphone. This is a very nice phone that should get a 9.7. I like all of the photo and video options like panarama and video editing to satisfy the shutter bug in me. I will still be getting the Evo 3D but this is a close second. I like that the Evo 3D has a qHD display and the new htc sense has some cool features. Plus I just can't trust Samsung with software updates anymore... Although I must credit them for possibly learning their lesson since it has gingerbread and an unlocked bootloader.

99. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

hey u guys are stupid... phone arena isnt gonna go back to every review and make it lower as the years pass... when the ip4 came out there was nothing to beat it... simple as that... this phone is coming out and the sensation, evo 3d, and thrill beat it... technically not one of these phones is in the US market, so they are all future phones... but how can you expect them to give this a perfect score when there are already better phones?

108. vishu9

Posts: 252; Member since: Mar 03, 2011

u say there are better phones? The ones u mentioned are in the making still and without a release date. And by any freaking way a review is not done by comparing it with other similar phones its purely done by the one phone-in-hand's performance.Period. and going by wat u said that iphone4 got 9.5 coz there was nothing that could beat it when it came out..the same can be said about the GS2.there really is no phone out there that can beat it. I'm not against iphone getting 9.5, its great but giving this one a 9 when it truly is unbeatable is far fetched

109. vishu9

Posts: 252; Member since: Mar 03, 2011

and why is it that in every page that mentions Apple u are defending it vociferously and calling other people 'Stupid' ...are you getting paid too? (jk) That would make you Stupid!

144. zoulou unregistered

Sorry but there is NO better phone than the SGS2 at least hardware wise. Even in the future planned phones, nothing comes CLOSE. Maybe in 4 month... Rarely a phone is such a gap with the competition. Certainly, the IP4, while it has its merits, was not. And also has antenna issues - and still does.

110. FarooqPasha

Posts: 1; Member since: May 05, 2011

I wonder how stupid the reviewer is. He is mentioning iphone 4 as the alternate. Shame on you PhoneArena. Shame on you. Engadget is much more better than you if its iFanSite than you

116. vishu9

Posts: 252; Member since: Mar 03, 2011

absolutely Engadget=IN iPhonearena=OUT

180. Gesh75

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 01, 2011

Common if there is one of the worst phone review sites it's engadget, and their the biggest apple suck ups i've ever come across so have disagree with you there.

34. calamazoo unregistered

LG Optimus 2X and the LG Black have motion controlled gestures, and they seem way more useful than what Samsung has done here - the tilting one is plain dumb, and the panning stuff - meh. From what i saw in the Optimus Black review, you hold a button on the side and tilt up or down to zoom in the website - and here you need two hands for them, very silly

43. KingK unregistered

This phone is just on par with the competition. Nothing special. Too many kids over excited over nothing. Brings nothing new to the table. Quadrant scores are exaggerated by 2.3 and low resolution and they've been all over the place. Yet this phone still has lags. By the time it comes out all over the world, it will be close to yesterdays news. Not to mention the compatibility issues with the CPU that will come later, can't play tegra 2 games, mali is weak. Only real ok thing about it is the 1080p recording and the screen. Its a good thing but it blows nothing out of the water like everyone is drooling at it. Maybe its 4.7% better at best.

52. touness69 unregistered

Lags ? Exynos weaker than Tegra 2 ?? on par with the competition ?! You obviously have no idea what you are talking about, just stfu and good bye.

59. cheetah2k

Posts: 2275; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

@ touness69 - The Tegra II is faster clock for clock. The only reason Samsung overclocked the Exynos at 1.2Ghz is that it wasn't competitive at 1.0Ghz. And yes, the handset still lags. Go have a play with one you fuckknuckle

71. Jeez unregistered

I'm sorry, did the SGS2 make some baby of yours look like antique? You seem very deperate to rationalize away its leadership.

128. cheetah2k

Posts: 2275; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

My Motorola Atrix still got a 9.5 BWAHAHAHAHAH!!

79. lacp unregistered

Mali it isn't weak. It's much stronger than Tegra 2 GPU. Five times because Nvidia Tegra 2 it has the same performance than PowerVR SGX540.

80. rayjones09

Posts: 149; Member since: Dec 16, 2010

I actually must concur. Though I favor this handset, with all that power, this should be the smoothest handset around. Period. As is evident, however, it is not. And to be honest, the improvements it does bring are relatively marginal. The only ones who would truly appreciate its improvements are those who like to tweak and work their phone to death. This is a great phone, yet, the greatest thing to me is the screen. Everything else is simply cool to have.

57. remixfa

Posts: 14605; Member since: Dec 19, 2008

Hey PA, stick to reccommending phones that are out.. and in the same class. That would limit you to... oooh... hmmm.. maybe an LG G2x. "Hey, instead of this fully loaded ferrari enzo.. how about.. last years BMW.. or waiting till 2014, i hear there will be new cars out then" Reccomending you wait to check out phones that arent out yet is rediculous. Why not just tell people to wait till the Galaxy 4 super duper mega amoled hologram phone is out?

60. chinakidoliver.iab

Posts: 75; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

it has 9 and a half but that phone is beast

61. Mario unregistered

How can you give iPhone4 9,5/10? - Sensor problems, - Anetnna problems, - No way to customize the handset after own needs and wishes! Stoneage? - No types of widgets - No way to get contacts on the homescreen - No Flash - No wireles sync - Notification system that is bullshit compare to Android - You can only sync the iPhone with ONE pc/mac - Social Clients buildt in where? - Only 3,5" IPS screen And so on.. Do you call this a 9,5/10 product? ratings: 10 - A perfect product 9 - Nearly perfect, but... 8 - Great product with few flaws 7 - Solid product with some minor issues 6 - Decent, but not as good as it could be 5 - Fair; not great, but not horrible 4 - Okay, but we can't recommend it 3 - Very few redeeming qualities 2 - Almost no redeeming qualities 1 - Pure crap So is really iPhone4 even an 8!?

73. leoking3 unregistered

They are PAID by the ishit company to compare everything to that user-friendly failure of a phone. Wake up people at PA!!! It has resolution? On a 3.5 display? Does it play a decent movie? Without buying a bullshit app? Jesus, when are you gonna wake up and stand up for yourselves?! I know we all work for money, It doesnt even have delivery reports for sms!!!! Jesus!

94. captainqtp

Posts: 16; Member since: Jun 25, 2010

I don't like Apple, I don't use Apple, but Phone Arena reviews the phones when they come to market. Considering when the Iphone 4 hit, it was a top of the line device. I think the retina display is still king of the PPI measurements. Not only that, it had (arguably still has) the better application store on release. Also, despite whatever specs pissing match you want to get into in comparing a phone released today to a phone released last summer, it is still remarkably snappy. I believe it warranted a 9.5. Again, I'd never buy one, because I don't like Apple's closed ecosystem philosophy. I'd constantly feel trapped. That said, many people don't have a problem with Apple's approach.

174. davinci1993

Posts: 2; Member since: Jul 02, 2011

Right on, my friend!

179. Troll Police unregistered

You want to see some Apple bias? Go to Engadget

5. sak96

Posts: 4; Member since: Apr 12, 2011

Phonearena dnt dlt ma accnt or cmmnt plzz, I m saying the truth why did u gav iphone 9.5, this device should get 10/10. its the best phone in the market now. I hav iphone4 and this phone in ma hands now so i m saying it

98. Lucas777

Posts: 2137; Member since: Jan 06, 2011

well buddy when the iphone came iout it was best... when this phone comes out it wont be best... (sensation, evo 3d, ad thrill are better)

101. scruffle unregistered

3D phones are gay. Galaxy s2 is king

102. Comatose unregistered

Have you ever played with the Thrill evo 3d or sensation? Admittedly the new htc sense 3.0 does look mouthwatering ,it is highly graphic intensive and hence manages to waste some of the raw power of the sensation and evo 3d . Also i am not really a fan of the evo 3d as i think 3d in phones are pretty unnecessary and mostly a gimmick , atleast in present times. The sensation is the only true rival to this phone , but it is hard to determine if it is better or not until we see some reviews.

157. Allday28

Posts: 342; Member since: Nov 19, 2010

I hate to break it to you but the ssgs2 is already blowing the doors off the over rated evo 3D and will continue to do so....

6. scruffle unregistered

This review is bogus. This has to be the greatest phone to date and it receives only a 9??? It almost seems as if phonearena was just digging to find cons on this phone. the cons listed are stupid and rediculous.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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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