Samsung Star II Preview

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Introduction and Design
This is a global GSM phone. It can beused with T-Mobile USA andAT&T.

Introduction:


30 million sold phones worldwide. Just listen to that number and reflect. That is the amazing legacy of the first Samsung Star handset. The Star was one of the first affordable touchscreen handsets and was welcomed by users who voted with their dollar to put it in the phones' hall of fame. And now, year and a half later, the Star II has come to follow the success of the original Star. While 30 million sales seem a tall order in today's crowded smartphone space for any handset, let's take a look at what the Star II has to offer.

The original Star brought a 3.0-inch resistive touchscreen and Samsung's TouchWiz UI in its first version. Fast forward to 2011, and the second Star packs a lot more style in its white body, a 3.0-inch capacitive screen and the third iteration of the TouchWiz UI, which looks great. It is also positioned as an entry-level handset and to cut cost Samsung has passed on 3G, but the phone has Wi-Fi (which the original Star didn't) and EDGE. 

Design:

The Samsung Star II is certainly more of a looker than the first member of the family. Now that's not much of an achievement as the first Star wasn't the most fashionable handset out there, but it is still worth mentioning. The white body stands out on the background of other, mostly dark handsets, but if white isn't exactly your cup of tea, we presume the handset will be available in other color solutions as well.



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

As we said, the Star II comes with a 3.0-inch touchscreen, which is now capacitive in contrast to the resistive one on the original Star. With a resolution of 240 x 400 pixels and 256K colors, the screen is slightly below average, but that's what you get for such a price. However, we appreciate the capacitive technology and we found it to register our taps and swipes accurately.


The silver sidelining of the Star II houses most of its other buttons. It includes the volume rocker on the left, while on the right are the microSD slot with support for up to 16GB of memory and the lock key. The top part holds a microUSB charging slot with a protective lid and the 3.5mm standard headset jack. Pretty standard, the only thing that really caught us is the microSD slot, which is comfortably positioned on the side and easily accessible without the need to remove the battery.


Nothing fancy on the white back cover. It houses the 3 megapixel fixed focus camera, which lacks flash as well as any kind of protection. The loudspeaker is the final touch to the back of the phone.



Samsung Star II 360-degree View:





Interface and Functionality:

The Samsung Star II is a phone running on a proprietary Java-based platform spiced up with the latest third iteration of Sammy's TouchWiz. The home screen welcomes you with an interface similar to what you see on bada handsets. To unlock the screen you have to sweep the glass-like screen, a common theme for Samsung handsets. The top of the home screen is where notifications reside – a tap brings up a bada-like menu with missed calls, emails, music player controls (if you have music running) and so on. The home screen is customizable on the Star II through widgets. Only a few come pre-installed, but Samsung's Apps menu offers more for download.


No smart OS means less apps and in the case of the Samsung Star II, you are limited to Java apps.

The main menu is styled simply with 12 icons on each of the two pages containing the main apps and options. The possibility to have them displayed on a priority basis in regard to how often they are accessed is a nice touch. Also, you can manually rearrange them.

Playing around we noticed that firing up a couple of apps drags the performance noticeably and that's one reason why the built-in task manager comes in handy. A long press on the menu key brings up all of the opened apps and clearing up memory is as simple as stopping an app. It is also a great way to switch between apps.


The Samsung Star II comes with SNS (Social Network Service), but unfortunately our prototype unit did not have the final versions of the apps and we could not test them.

Internet and Conectivity:

The refreshed Star now comes with Wi-Fi on board, but 3G is still not there. For an entry-level phone this could hardly be a big problem. So let's take a look just how good did the connectivity package of the Star II look in real Internet life. The built-in browser is your basic solution for checking simple websites. If you try to open a slightly more complicated webpage, you will have to deal with a memory outage and will be forced to close it. Opera Mini is the first thing that pops up in our minds as we are writing this, so check it out if you plan on browsing on your phone.



Camera and Multimedia:

The Samsung Star II is not very pretentious in the camera department with a humble 3 megapixel fixed-focus shooter with no flash, but does it at least allow for decent photos when you are in dare need to catch the moment? Our answer to this is yes, the 3 megapixel sensor did good and the color quality of the samples we took was pleasing. We should note camera quality is a subject to change and hopefully it will be even better on the final unit.

Do not expect much detail and a mind blowing dynamic range, but for your most basic needs the realistic color reproduction is certainly an asset. Finally, the touch-optimized menu is definitely usable with different scene selections. Take a look at the pictures below shot at the biggest resolution of 2048x1536 pixels, which give you general idea of just what can you expect.




The camera also has video recording capabilities but we wouldn't count on those as the resolution is 320 x 240 pixels, barely enough to make out all the objects you film.

The media gallery of the Samsung Star II features some great looking and most importantly smooth transitions, while zooming in and out of images is equally fast. The biggest drawback however is the lack of multitouch support in the gallery. To zoom in you will have to tap on images, but apart from that we're happy with the gallery's performance.


The music player is rich in options and functionality as well. There are presets for the most popular music genres along with DNSe enhanced sound, which both contribute to a great loud and clear sound output through the loudspeaker. FM radio with RDS is also on board. In addition, a Shazam-like option called “Music recognition” allows you to identify all those catchy songs you hear in a cafe every now and then. Pretty cool, right?

Here at PhoneArena we have been torturing our eyes watching videos on very small screens. But we are pretty sure we are not the only enthusiasts out there. So for all of you who decide to watch a video on the smallish 3-inch screen with 256K colors of the Star II, take into account that we only managed to play MPEG-4 videos at the display's native resolution out of the box. The video player however has some nice perks like mosaic search which breaks down your video into segments with a thumbnail for each one allowing you to easily skip between different parts. Support for 5.1 surround sound is on board as well.



Expectations:

The Samsung Star II comes as a legacy to the legendary original Samsung Star, but this time it is surrounded by many other similar handsets in the low-budget segment. While on one hand it certainly packs some nice connectivity options like Wi-Fi, on the other it lacks 3G, multitouch actions in the browser or gallery, and is not as snappy as we would want it. Let's not forget however that this is an entry-level handset and having in mind that we tested a prototype, we hope to see the interface polished and the final unit running with no lag. Combine this with adequate pricing and timing, and the Samsung Star II could fit in a lot of budgets. But if you're asking yourself whether it will become the legend the original Star was, our answer is - hardly likely, as the low-end touchscreen segment has changed to offer a plethora of handsets, including smart ones.

Samsung Star II Video Preview:

Video Thumbnail



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