Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket Review

Introduction and Design

Filling in the gaping hole that was found in the hearts of many AT&T customers for some time, the recent availability of the Samsung Galaxy S II for AT&T seemingly plugged up the void with its awe-inspiring presence. It was as if all of their desires, needs, and wants were answered by the introduction of the Samsung Galaxy S II. Well, just nearly over a month after bringing aboard the highly respectable Android powered smartphone, AT&T is already bringing in to its lineup an even newer Galaxy S II model. Sporting a $249.99 on-contract price, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket just might make those early adopters of the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II boil over with regret because the Skyrocket packs support for AT&T's 4G LTE network.

The package contains:

  • Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket
  • microUSB cable
  • Wall Charger
  • Stereo Headset
  • Quick Start Guide


Knowing that it's packing a larger display over the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II, the Skyrocket is marginally larger in size – though, it's not as massive looking compared to the Infuse 4G. Fortunately, for something that's packing a 4G LTE radio inside of it, the Skyrocket is impressively streamlined (0.37" thick) and lightweight (4.6 oz). However, its overall design doesn't deviate from what we've seen already with other variants of the popular Samsung Galaxy S II line. Specifically, it features an all-plastic exterior that contributes in keeping its figure in shape, but to tell you the truth, it's nothing premium.

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

The Skyrocket manages to pack a larger 4.5" WVGA Super AMOLED Plus display. Obviously, its resolution (400 x 800) is hardly going to impress anyone nowadays, aspecially at this size, resulting in 207 ppi. And just like before, its color production is immaculate to reel in our eyes with its iridescent colors, high contrast, and strong brightness output. However, after spending a few days in our pockets, we notice the display showing signs of scratching, which is partly due to the fact that it doesn't offer the durability of things like Gorilla Glass.

Due to the nature of the capacitive Android buttons being in close proximity to the bottom edge of the phone, we still have a tendency of accidentally pressing them. Meanwhile, on the opposite side, we find the handset's earpiece and front-facing 2-megapixel camera.

The volume rocker on the left edge  is pronounced and offers a tactile response when pressed. Conversely, the dedicated power button (on the right)is rather flat to the touch – though, it still exhibits a springy feel when pressed. Also, we find the handset's 3.5mm headset jack, noise cancellation microphone, and microUSB port on its top and bottom edges. With the latter, you can use an optional MHL-to-HDMI adapter to output high-def video to a TV or get a mirrored experience.

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket 360-degrees View:


Following in the same footsteps as the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II, the Skyrocket forgoes using the 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos processor  that has been a staple with the line, and instead, it utilizes a 1.5 GHz dual-core Qualcomm APQ8060 processor, which is the third generation Snapdragon processor. Of course, not everyone is going to take kindly to the change, but nevertheless, the Skyrocket exhibits a responsive performance with its operation. Unless you put it next to an AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II, you're not going to notice that much of a difference with its operation – albeit, the Skyrocket is just a notch down from the tight and fluid movements seen with its Exynos packed counterpart. Still, it's a fast smartphone that's willing and able to handle the most demanding operations out there – with minimal instances of choppiness or slow down.

Already, we've gone into great detail regarding the latest version of the TouchWiz user interface running on pretty much all versions of the Samsung Galaxy S II – and the same could be said about the Skyrocket. Aside from the deep level of personalization that TouchWiz offers, it also employs some motion-based controls that add some functionality to the platform’s operation – like zooming with the web browser or media gallery. Although they’re nice additions, some are more practical than others. Even though it might not be the most refined customized Android skins out there, its own unique approach still embodies most of the deep personalization aspects we come to enjoy with Android as a whole.

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Showing yet another level of refinement in the platform experience, the Skyrocket incorporates some useful motion-based controls that offer another way of interacting with the phone. Specifically, they include things like tilting it to zoom in & out of pictures in the gallery or the web browser, panning between the homescreen by moving the phone either in a left or right direction, turning over the phone to its back during an incoming phone call to mute it, and double tapping the phone to prepare it for voice commands. Sure they’re cool at first, but some are more practical than others.

Just like previous TouchWiz handsets,  the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket doesn’t deviate as it presents us with the normal set of core organizer apps. Obviously, there’s nothing new with the layouts and functionality found with the calculator, calendar, and clocks apps. And just like before, there’s a nifty Mini Diary app that makes the process of indexing entries such a joy seeing that we’re allowed to attach text, our location, and a photo to them.

With so much real estate to work with, it's almost hard to botch typing up something on the Skyrocket. In addition, with three different types of keyboards available to us, there's always going to be one that'll prove to be the most efficient. Combining their spacious layouts and overall responsive nature, our thumbs are able to quickly compose messages with minimal mistakes.

Whether it’s the Samsung Mail app or Gmail one, the emailing experience is nothing out of the ordinary as it presents us with the normal features we’d come to expect and see. Much like everything before it, setup is a hassle-free experience since it only requires our email addresses and passwords to automatically set up properly.


Running the camera app, there isn’t any change with its layout as we’re given plenty of focus on what we’re shooting with the viewfinder. On the right side, we find the on-screen shutter key, toggle switch for video/still shot mode, and the preview window for the gallery. Meanwhile, the customizable left edge plays home to four different icons that you can select for quick access – with the settings icon fixed on there for good. Without a doubt, there are plenty of shooting modes and manual settings that are available to appease even some of the most hardened photo enthusiasts.

Blessed with an 8-megapixel auto-focus camera, the Skyrocket is able to produce similar results to what we found with previous Galaxy S II models. Just like before, it excels in sunny conditions, as it's able to reel in some nice looking shots, with realistic colors and good detail. Indoors under artificial lighting, it suffers from some overexposure, which tends to wash out fine details. Sadly though, nighttime shots are soft with its details, filled with a lot of digital noise, and are high in exposure. Yet, its LED flash is able to counteract some of its deficiencies with some balanced lighting.

Unsurprisingly, its high-definition 1080p video capture mimics the results that we find with still image capture, which is that it excels in sunny conditions, but diminishes in quality under low lightin. Details are pretty good, but not great – still, it's significantly noisier looking with videos taken in low lighting. In terms of frame rate, it moves swiftly at 30 frames per second in sunny conditions, but it drops down to as low as 23 frames per second with nighttime shots. Through it all, its audio recording is on the clear side no matter what condition you're in.

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket Sample Video:

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket Sample Video - Night:


With the TouchWiz music player, its presentation follows in line to other conventional looking players, but we’re pleased by its strong volume output, which can be further fine-tuned by selecting the appropriate equalizer settings. However, we're left scratching our heads wondering why Samsung decided to leave out a music player widget. Still, if we happen to exit out of the music player interface, we can still access some functions through the notifications panel.

Deemed as a high-end smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S II is naturally inclined to offer a phenomenal video watching experience. And you know what? We get just that as it's able to play flawlessly our test video that's encoded in DivX 1920 x 1080 resolution. Not only is playback buttery smooth, but its Super AMOLED Plus display sprinkles some juicy colors to make the entire thing simply polarizing.

As much as we'd like to find it included with the packaging, you'll have to purchase an optional MHL adapter in order to get video out functionality. Of course, it's an added investment, but it's also pretty sweet being able get a mirrored experience on your high-definition television set. Nevertheless, if you prefer a wireless route, you can utilize the AllShare application to share multimedia content with other DLNA compatible devices.

Internally, the handset is graced with 11.25GB of storage out of the box, which can be further supplemented with the available microSD card slot. On top of that, there’s 1.78GB of space reserved strictly for applications.

Internet and Connectivity:

If you so happen to spend a lot of time web surfing, you’ll happily find the experience on the Skyrocket to be suitable to your needs. Not only do complex web sites like ours load up in no time at all, thanks to the speedy HSPA+ speeds we’re able to attain, but its navigational controls are spot-on responsive. Fluid in nature with its response, we do like how the motion-based movements allow us to quickly zoom in/out by essentially tilting the phone into the respective directions. Above all, it doesn’t even stutter when Flash content is present – giving us that lovable desktop-like experience.

Global trotters will like being able to place phone calls in nearly all corners of the world with the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket – since it’s obviously a GSM smartphone. Even better, it’s one of the few devices on AT&T’s lineup to offer support for the carrier’s next-generation 4G LTE network. Even though we’re unable to test out its potential, we’re surprisingly impressed with its HSPA+ speeds. Specifically, we’re able to get download and upload speeds of up to 11.54Mbits/s and 1.67Mbits/s respectively. Besides that, it houses all of the usual set of connectivity items such as aGPS, Bluetooth 3.0, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, and mobile hotspot functionality.


Love it or hate it, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket is packaged along with an abundance of bloatware – some of which might be appealing to certain people, though, it’s hardly nothing different from what we’ve seen before on other AT&T smartphones. Of course, AT&T’s presence is clearly established as we find apps on there like AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T FamilyMap, AT&T Navigator, AT&T Ready2Go, Live TV, and myAT&T all on there. Adding to the listing, we also find other third party apps like AllShare, Amazon Kindles, Kies air, Media Hub, MOG Music, Need for Speed Shift, Qik Lite, Quickoffice, and YPmobile.


Although it’s not terrible to say the least, it’s rather difficult to hear our conversations because the earpiece is on the weak side with its output – and it doesn’t help that voices are mute in tone. Oppositely, our callers fared a bit better as they’re greeted with some robust, natural, and distortion-free voices on their end of the line. Turning our attention to the speakerphone, we’re undeniably blown away by its resonating volume, but it has a squeaky tone when it’s placed on the loudest volume setting.

Retaining a solid set of bars in high coverage areas, we didn’t experience any dropped calls during our testing in the greater Philadelphia area. However, we did experience some inconsistent data issues early on that slowed and disconnected our connection – thankfully, it eventually cleared up and we didn’t see it again.

Keeping in mind the stigma attached to 4G LTE smartphones, we’re curious to see how the Skyrocket will perform with its battery life when it’s used within the confines of AT&T’s 4G LTE network. In the meantime, we tested it out under HSPA+ coverage instead to see how it fares. Well, it didn’t quite impress us seeing that we’re only able to get approximately 14 hours of normal usage on a single charge. Additionally, we obtained a continuous talk time of 6 hours on a fully battery, which is less than the 7 hours of talk time rated by manufacturer. Indeed, its everyday usage might be decent for some, but we can only imagine it to be less on 4G LTE.


We’d wager that there are plenty of AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II owners out there that caused a scene when the Skyrocket was officially announced – well, that’s because they’re probably upset at themselves for not waiting longer. Actually, we beg to disagree because the $50 difference separating the two Galaxy S II models is warranted, so unless you’re in an area that has AT&T’s 4G LTE coverage, then the Skyrocket is the no-brainer choice between the two. Otherwise, you can save yourself the money and stick it with the original model instead. As we’ve seen, the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket is a great smartphone that will help showcase AT&T’s next-generation network, but besides that one particular item, there isn’t much else that would make it any better than the existing Galaxy S II model.

Software version of the reviewed unit:
Android Version: 2.3.5
Kernel Version:

Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket Video Review:


  • 4G LTE support
  • Fast HSPA+ speeds
  • Responsive platform experience


  • Below average battery
  • Screen scratches easily
  • Bland looking design

PhoneArena Rating:


User Rating:

17 Reviews

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