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Samsung Galaxy S II Review

Samsung Galaxy S II

Posted: , posted by Daniel P.

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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, which is confirmed by our benchmark tests as well.

Synthetic benchmarking aside, browsing with our 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.

Surfing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S II - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Surfing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S II - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Surfing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S II - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Surfing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S II - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Surfing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S II - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Surfing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S II - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Surfing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S II - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Surfing the web with the Samsung Galaxy S II - Samsung Galaxy S II Review


Also, this display, at 4.3”, could use a bit more resolution. Despite ditching the PenTile matrix, when you have a page zoomed out, some fine details are lost, especially if it’s text, but if you have the habit of trying to discern text in that position, we don’t want to be your eye doctor anyway. If it’s a thing that takes away from your sleep at night, just wait for the dual-core HTC Sensation 4G, or get the Motorola ATRIX 4G, with their qHD screen resolution, or get the king of display resolution iPhone 4, if you are not the Android type. 

There is a very slight lag when scrolling, the screen starts following your finger a split second after movement, and 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. These are actually our only remarks towards the browser on the Samsung Galaxy S II, and they are not a necessity by any measure - the sheer pleasure of reading or watching a video on this screen gets to us every time we use it.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is loaded with connectivity options –  21Mbps 4G HSPA+, 3G, A-GPS, high-speed Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, MHL, FM Radio, you name it. The Bluetooth 3.0+HS and Wi-Fi Direct options are great to have, but you will see the improved transfer speeds only to compatible devices, so better get your girlfriend a Galaxy S II as well, if you want to be truly happy together.

The FM radio - Samsung Galaxy S II Review

Thankfully, the GPS fix issues that plagued the Galaxy S are corrected now - we managed to pinpoint our location for the usual 2-3 minutes on first boot, and afterwards it was picking up satellites much faster. Also, in some regions where the NFC infrastructure is more developed, the phone will ship with an NFC chip enabled, but we had the UK version, which doesn’t seem to have any NFC-connected app, or a hint this chip exists inside.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is one of the first mobile devices (the rest being of HTC's newest crop) to sport the new Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) port. The idea is to have one port for both microUSB duties, and HDMI-out for 1080p video. MHL-ready HDTVs and other gear will only start shipping this year, though, and only then you will be able to charge your phone, while mirroring its screen on the TV. There is an  MHL-to-HDMI adapter accessory for the Samsung Galaxy S II, if you want to take advantage of 1080p video output from the phone to your non-MHL HDTV, but it won't charge the phone at the same time. There is also another accessory, an USB-on-the-go adapter cable, that goes into the MHL port, and at the other end you can plug in things like an USB flash drive for streaming movies from there, or copying files to and from the Galaxy S II, without the need of a computer.

The options to access the phone's content have increased in the Galaxy S II, compared to the Galaxy S. Kies Air, that was released by Samsung earlier this year, now comes standard in TuchWiz 4.0, allowing 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.

Kies Air - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Kies Air - Samsung Galaxy S II Review

The AllShare app for streaming multimedia to DLNA-enabled TVs or other gear works great, but skips some frames with Full HD videos, when we streamed them to our Windows 7 PC, and we had the same issue with the DLNA app on the LG Optimus 2X, so it’s not the phone. Probably if we were on a Wireless N connection, performance would be better. We tried streaming a movie with subtitles, but we were warned that the DLNA-enabled gear has to be of Samsung make for the subtitles to show.

We'd be remiss not to mention the four Hubs Samsung is supplying with the Galaxy S II. The Social Hub that integrates all your messaging and social networking updates 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 a snap, while the options to show you what's hot in each category is pretty helpful. The Games Hub seems predominantly occupied by Gameloft titles in the Premium section, probably since those are not listed in Android Market. Most polished is the Readers Hub, which gives you access to millions of books, newspapers and magazines, with seven free magazine issues of your choosing, and a universe of free classic books.

Games Hub - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Games Hub - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Games Hub - Samsung Galaxy S II Review
Games Hub - Samsung Galaxy S II Review


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Samsung Galaxy S II

Samsung Galaxy S II

OS: Android 4.1.2 4.0.4 4.0 2.3
view full specs
PhoneArena rating:
9Excellent
Display4.3 inches, 480 x 800 pixels (218 ppi) Super AMOLED Plus
Camera8 megapixels
Hardware
Samsung Exynos 4 Dual, Dual-core, 1200 MHz, ARM Cortex-A9 processor
1 GB RAM
Size4.93 x 2.60 x 0.33 inches
(125.3 x 66.1 x 8.49 mm)
4.09 oz  (116 g)
Battery1650 mAh, 18.3 hours talk time

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