Samsung updates the Galaxy S to be better, brighter, faster

Last year’s Galaxy S smartphone was one of the hottest iPhone competitors around, and this year Samsung looks to be pushing the envelope even more in the S2 with upgrades that make it better for just about every reason.

Launched this week in Australia, the Samsung Galaxy S2 takes what worked about the original Galaxy S and improves it substantially. It’s not just a new look for the S2; no, Samsung has upgraded security, brought in some new grunt, and make this into what it claims is “the smartest of smartphones”.

“Following on from the outstanding success of the Galaxy S smartphone, which has sold a record 14 million units globally to date, we are excited to unveil our new flagship smartphone,” said Tyler McGee, Samsung Australia’s Vice President of Telecommunications. “We believe the Galaxy S2 is the smartest of smartphones on the Australian market. Its sophisticated hardware features deliver first class connectivity and app experiences.”

Physically, not much has changed. Much like last year’s Galaxy S, you’ll get a tall, dark, and handsome handset (not a stranger) that’s a little larger and still a few grams lighter. The S2 comes in at only 116 grams and is 8.49mm thin, which apparently makes it one of the world’s thinnest phones. There’s more power under the hood here with a 1.2GHz processor Cortex A9 processor, similar to what’s under the hood of Apple’s iPad 2. Even the mobile connection is faster, supporting HSPA+ and a downlink of 21Mbps, giving it one of the fastest links to the web (provided your telco supports it).

The Galaxy S2 practically screams multimedia from the spec list, and our play with the new device leads us to believe that Samsung is serious with the handset. You’ll find a ridiculously bright 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus screen coated in Gorilla Glass so that your screen is better protected against keys and drops. There’s 16GB of built-in memory plus up to 32GB extra that you can take advantage of with the microSD slot, as well as a new feature called “Second TV” that lets you connect to a new Samsung TV and watch programs on your phone.

DLNA is included out of the box, making sharing multimedia around the home easier, and Samsung has included a rear 8 megapixel camera with 1080p video capture, so expect to be sharing those home movies quickly.

Outside of the multimedia, you’ll find Samsung’s Reading Hub with digital books and magazines, a new Game Hub with access to Gameloft’s HD games, a comprehensive Navigon turn-by-turn GPS software, Swype keyboard, and the most recent version of Google Android for phones – “Gingerbread”.

And over on the side of security, Samsung is providing a service called “Samsung Dive”. This new service will allow customers to track their Galaxy S2 if lost, as well as lock the handset, see if the SIM has been removed, and even wipe the phone.

Outright pricing is $899, but the Galaxy S2 will be released on every telco, starting with Optus. Also of interest is the subject of accessories, with Belkin making skins and cases for the S2 and Samsung releasing both a USB and HDMI connector for the handset.