Samsung Galaxy S II Review
The call quality of the Samsung Galaxy S II is pretty good – the earpiece won’t blow your mind away, but is still strong and pretty clear, something to be expected on such a high-end device. The noise-canceling microphones didn’t disappoint our listeners on the other side, weeding out parasitic noises.
We were worried that the 1.2GHz processor will have battery life issues. Samsung has done a good job optimizing the chipset, though. The display has an intelligent power-saving mode, automatically learning from your usage patterns, and the handset had a separate “Power saving mode” section in Settings, which lets you choose which power-sucking options to turn off automatically when not in use.
Even without the battery-preservation modes, the Samsung Galaxy S II is not a power-hog, and you will be getting the usual for high–end Android phones day of very intense usage, two with light usage and the occasional Full HD video recording and playback. Samsung hasn't posted official talk and standby times yet, but we did one unscientific test by just using the phone lightly over the weekend. We disconnected the fully charged handset from the cable at 23:05 on Saturday and went out, and the phone turned off due to lack of juice at 12:58 on Tuesday, roughly 62 hours.
In the meantime we logged 40 minutes of browsing over Wi-Fi, 20 minutes of gaming, uploaded 3GB worth of HD movies and music via Kies Air for 40 minutes, listened to music for 40 min., 30 of which were on speaker, used the GPS for 15 min., recorded 12 min. of Full HD video, and took 14 shots with flash at a party. We also talked for 32 minutes, tinkered in general like using the calculator or the photo editor for a total of 40 minutes, and watched HD movies for 1:35 hours, half an hour of which was streaming the movie via DLNA to a computer.
We only turned on Wi-Fi and GPS when we used them, the display was always on automatic brightness, which is hit or miss on the phone (Updated: Samsung fixed the ambient light sensor issue with a firmware update), and the phone was connected to a 3G network at all times. So, yes, you can indeed get 2 days and some with moderate usage out of the 1650mAh battery. The key seems to be good power management - we observed very low power consumption when on standby, the battery indicator barely moves then, since the phone seems to clock the chipset way down to 200MHz for that, and we very rarely saw bursts to the full GHz the silicon is capable of in any activity.
Probably the most important take from this review of the Samsung Galaxy S II is that it is, once again, future-proof. It has those highly-regarded and distinguishing features that won't make it obsolete in just a few months' time. The dual-core Exynos chipset chirps along capturing excellent Full HD video clips, whereas the 4.3” Super AMOLED Plus screen offers one of the best video playback experiences we've seen on a phone to date, with hardwired DivX/Xvid, and .MKV video formats support.
For enterprise users it is the first Android device to ship with encrypted hardware (perhaps real-time NAND Flash encryption), according to Samsung, which reduces the reliance on security software. We are yet to see if this will help the enterprise adoption of Samsung's flagship Android device, for which the company has also partnered with Cisco, Microsoft and Sybase.
If we didn't have 3D-capable handsets to consider, like the HTC EVO 3D for Sprint, or the LG Optimus 3D, we'd say that the Samsung Galaxy S II will be the Android handset to get so far. It is much thinner than the 3D beasts, though, and the Super AMOLED Plus display alone is a unique enough feature. The Galaxy S II will appeal most to people who prefer their large handsets in a slim and light package, an antipode of HTC’s muscular builds, and much easier to handle and toss around.
Samsung's Android peak for this season is future-proof not only with its powerful chipset and vivid display, but also with the top-notch connectivity options. You won't find 21Mbps 4G HSPA+, Bluetooth 3.0+HS, Wi-Fi Direct, DLNA, and MHL port combined in any other Android handset. That's probably because some of these standards are yet to become mainstream, which means that you may not get as much benefit with them right now, but you sure are future-proof. On the whole, we found the Samsung Galaxy S II to be more than a worthy sequel to the handset that set new standards for the high-end Android range, and everything we hoped for.
If you are looking for Android alternatives, you can check out the latest and greatest from Android land in the T-Mobile G2x (Optimus 2X), Motorola ATRIX 4G or the HTC ThunderBolt. If you don't want the little green robot in your life, you can go iPhone 4, which has a high-resolution display, distinctive design and offers all of the wonders in the App Store. Or, if you would rather go the Windows Phone way, and still must have the Super AMOLED display, then you can opt for the Samsung Focus.
Software version of the reviewed unit: 188.8.131.52-I9100XWKD7-CL149590
- Significantly improved Super AMOLED Plus display
- The best handset for recording and watching Full HD video
- The dual-core Exynos chipset meets and exceeds the benchmarks in its peer group
- Future-proof collection of connectivity options
- Thin and light
- Design could be a bit more differentiating
- Motion sensor-powered gestures could see more practical usage
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- 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)