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Samsung Star II Review

Samsung Star II

Posted: , posted by Daniel P.

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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.

For some strange reason, Samsung didn't deem its own bada smartphone OS worthy of the Star II, although the interface is extremely similar. 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 a grid, where 12 squares on each of the two pages contain 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.

Home screen - The Samsung Star II is a phone running on a proprietary Java-based platform - Samsung Star II Review
The Samsung Star II is a phone running on a proprietary Java-based platform - Samsung Star II Review
Main menu - The Samsung Star II is a phone running on a proprietary Java-based platform - Samsung Star II Review
The Samsung Star II is a phone running on a proprietary Java-based platform - Samsung Star II Review

Home screen

 

Main menu

 

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 interface seemed a bit laggy throughout our encounter with the Samsung Star II. The phone has Samsung's SNS (Social Network Service) integration, as all TouchWiz phones lately but unfortunately you can't edit your social networking friends, like add a phone number to a synced Facebook contact, for example.

The keyboard in portrait mode is not QWERTY, but rather of the triple-tap variety. When you turn the handset in landscape position, the accelerometer rotates the screen quickly, and a QWERTY keyboard appears, although typing on a 3” screen is somewhat of a challenge if you have larger hands.

The built-in task manager - Samsung Star II Review
Portrait keyboard - Samsung Star II Review
The QWERTY keyboard appears only in landscape - Samsung Star II Review

The built-in task manager

Portrait keyboard

The QWERTY keyboard appears only in landscape



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, plus you get the added benefit of extending battery life by not constantly maintaining 3G connection. There is no GPS chip, but FM radio and Bluetooth are a go.

The built-in browser is Samsung's basic Dolfin 2.0 solution for checking simple websites, which is based on WebKit. It supports Flash Lite 4.0, so you will be able to check out some basic Flash objects, mostly ads, and it also supports text reflow. Zooming and panning around are executed with decent speeds, and the only drawback besides the lack of full Adobe Flash support, is the low screen resolution, which makes the pages look ugly and unreadable when zoomed-out.

Dolfin 2.0 - Samsung Star II Review
Dolfin 2.0 - Samsung Star II Review


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 dire 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. The camera interface is the well-known TouchWiz version, with different scene modes, and a few settings such as exposure and white balance.

Camera interface - Samsung Star II Review
Camera interface - Samsung Star II Review
Camera interface - Samsung Star II Review

The amount of detail is about average for such a shooter, but for your most basic needs the realistic color reproduction is certainly an asset. Indoor shots turned out quite a bit smeared by the noise-suppression, and the lack of flash is certainly a disadvantage when the lights go out.

Outdoor samples taken with the Samsung Star II - Samsung Star II Review
Outdoor samples taken with the Samsung Star II - Samsung Star II Review
Outdoor samples taken with the Samsung Star II - Samsung Star II Review

Indoor samples - Samsung Star II Review
Indoor samples - Samsung Star II Review
Indoor samples - Samsung Star II Review

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.

Samsung Star II Sample Video:




The gallery of the Samsung Star II is quite a pedestrian list of images, and the biggest drawback is the lack of multitouch support there. To zoom in you will have to tap on images, but apart from that we're happy with the gallery's performance.

Gallery - Samsung Star II Review

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 relatively loud, and also clear output through the loudspeaker. 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, as on Samsung's bada handsets.

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, no DivX/Xvid support. 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 mock 5.1 surround sound in headset mode while watching video is on board as well.

The music player is rich in options - Samsung Star II Review
The music player is rich in options - Samsung Star II Review
Watching videos - Samsung Star II Review
Watching videos - Samsung Star II Review


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PhoneArena rating:
6.5Good
Display3.0 inches, 240 x 400 pixels (155 ppi) TFT
Camera3.2 megapixels
Size4.23 x 2.13 x 0.49 inches
(107.5 x 54 x 12.4 mm)
3.32 oz  (94 g)
Battery1000 mAh, 8.3 hours talk time

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