Samsung Galaxy S2

Samsung’s second attempt to dethrone the smartphone king – Apple’s iPhone – has finally arrived. Talked about for months and previewed with much fanfare, Samsung’s S2 is thin, spec’d up, and the flagship of Samsung’s range this year. Is it enough to topple the iPhone juggernaut?

Features

The top of Samsung’s current crop of phones, the S2 is almost overloaded with more features.

For starters, the engine has taken a speed increase and is now a dual-core 1.2GHz processor. It’s not the fastest phone on the market by the specs, but we expect it will still manage to outperform much of what is currently available. You’ll also find 16GB of memory on-board, with a microSD slot for throwing in up to 32GB more memory.

More upgrades on the S2 include a switch from a 5 megapixel to an 8 megapixel camera, 1080p Full HD video recording, the latest version of Android OS (2.3 “Gingerbread”), and a very fast HSDPA modem capable of 21Mbps.

Aesthetically, it’s a fairly minimalist affair on the S2, with a large 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus screen dominating the handset, a 2 megapixel front-facing camera up top, a centre button at the bottom, and two light-up soft buttons for menu and going back to the last item. Physical buttons do exist on the S2, but they are few: a volume toggle on the left-hand side and a power button on the right.

While the original Galaxy S was fairly thin, the new S2 has managed to shed some weight, dropping from 9.9mm to 8.5mm thin and sitting pretty at 119 grams. The construction feels a little better this time around, the slippery plastic material used to house the phone replaced with a textured plastic back.

You’ll also find Gorilla Glass protecting the screen, as well as Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, and GPS.

Performance

So much has been loaded into the S2 that it’s hard to compare it to other Android devices. This isn’t “just another Android phone,” because some serious attention has been paid to its interface.

Widget screens and an applications menu remain, and we can still see some iPhone inspiration in the menu, but the look of Samsung’s TouchWiz 4 overlay feels generally better than what we’re used to seeing in Android devices. When you decide to add something to the home and widget screens, simply hold your finger down on the screen for the “Add to home” section to pop up at the bottom. From here you can swipe through the widgets, wallpapers and shortcuts easily.

Samsung's TouchWiz overlay sports some cool new additions, including the ability to sort your applications menu in a similar way to your widget screens.

Samsung’s S2 program menu can be sorted into your own screens – a first for many Android phones – adopting the same design as the widget arrangement screen to make it easier for you to manage your apps. Simply pinch on either of these screens and they will reform into panels for you to move them into different positions.

The messages and email application works in portrait and landscape orientation, the latter opening in a desktop style that reminds us very much of what the Galaxy Tab does with email.

Samsung’s “Reader’s Hub” – with support for ebooks over Kobo and magazines through Zinio – carries over from the original Galaxy S, but Samsung has added a way for you to browse through your phone’s files and move music and images to and from the device by way of your web browser. Using the “Kies Air” app found on the S2, you’ll find that any computer with a WiFi connection – Mac or PC – can connect to the handset with a web browser to send and receive files from the phone.

Little things like swiping left on a contact in the message screen to make a call, or swiping right to send a message make us feel that an extra layer of control was added by a designer who cared. The widget and home screen controller looks and feels different to any other handset we’ve experienced, throwing out the normal ‘power’ user mentality and replacing it with something anyone can understand.

Battery life even manages to snag a little under a day if you’re an avid user of social networking sites and email. Like most phones in its class, you’ll probably want to charge it up every night, but it doesn’t fall short as you work, and we like that. Turn off Bluetooth and hold off from checking Twitter every ten minutes, and you’ll find the battery lasts into a second day.

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7 Comments

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  1. Dude
    August 16, 02:30 Dude

    just bought this phone and it is amazing, another tip for making the battery last longer is when charging the phone it will say (100% charged) but wait about 20min until the phone beeps and says (fully charged unplug the charger)
    this will add extended time to the battery.also the screen is so bright on this phone and as most people use there phones inside the house or car you can turn the brightness down to 30% and it still looks great.
    and as mentioned when you not using the WIFI or Blutooth turn them off which is so quick to do on this phone.
    i would only be an average user but can get most times
    around 2 days out of the battery.

    Reply this comment
  2. Smiley_is
    October 10, 11:47 Smiley_is

    for those complaining about the battery get the app called juicedefender soo good makes the bettery last forever

    Reply this comment
  3. WTF
    November 09, 22:48 WTF

    Samsung have so many faults it isn’t funny.
    One would be of the factory settings restore! Like who wants to delete all there data if they have to do a restore to get the smart phone working good again.
    Secondly the fact that the phone has a crappy echo that everyone you chat too complaints about.
    I honestly think the new Nokia N9 is heaps better hands down.
    I rate the samsung at like 2.5 out of 5

    Reply this comment
  4. WTF
    November 09, 22:48 WTF

    Samsung have so many faults it isn’t funny.
    One would be of the factory settings restore! Like who wants to delete all there data if they have to do a restore to get the smart phone working good again.
    Secondly the fact that the phone has a crappy echo that everyone you chat too complaints about.
    I honestly think the new Nokia N9 is heaps better hands down.
    I rate the samsung at like 2.5 out of 5

    Reply this comment
  5. Pmshoey
    December 01, 18:00 Pmshoey

    i have a macbook computer using osx “snow leopard” .. can anyone confirm if this phone is compatible with Mac.  I want to be able to download photo’s, videos etc from the phone … my prior phone (non smart phone) wasnt compatible with Mac and i dont want to make that mistake again ll

    Reply this comment
  6. S2S
    December 25, 20:05 S2S

    Great Phone with a few issues. Speaker is a bit too soft, phone heats up really bad after intense usage (took of the silicone cover and still had heating issues). Battery life still below average with 2.3.5 + juicedefender with moderate use. Great design, great camera, lightweight, display is exceptional. No regrets buying the phone at all.

    Reply this comment
  7. mememe
    May 24, 11:03 mememe

    1. Battery runs out quickly but decently enough for 1 full day use

    2. Battery heats up alot when being charged

    3. Performance is quite quick though, of all the apps available that i’ve got on my phone it lags more and frequently gets frozen and restarts phone even when i’m simply on the internet!

    4. Quite durable. The phone is so slim it keeps slipping out of my hands onto the indoor floors but screen hasn’t broken after dropping it for more than 10 times

    5. The material of the back piece / shell of phone is not too good. Cracks easily and does not clip onto the phone properly… A little unstable i’m afraid

    Overall I’d give it a 4star.

    Reply this comment

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