Review: Samsung Galaxy S II


Droid on steroids.

Blazing fast UI; Brilliant screen; Super-slim design; Effortless multitasking; 1080p video recording; Extensive multimedia support
Poor grip; All-plastic body
Expert Rating : Rating

Samsung Galaxy S II
MRP: Rs 32,500
Street Price: Rs 30,500 (Flipkart.com); Rs 31,000 (LetsBuy.com)
Nowadays, a high-end mobile phone’s specs can give a complex to most Intel Atom based netbooks. Dual-core smartphones are promising unmatched performance, but an additional core means a deeper hole in your pocket. Is the performance boost really worth the premium price tag? Well, the answer lies in the review. Read on to find out.

Design, Build Quality, And Display

The retail package contains the device, a headset, charger, and a micro-USB cable. The headset is too cheap for a premium phone. Moreover, the Koreans aren’t even generous enough to include an MHL adapter (for HD-Out) and USB adapter (for USB On-The-Go) in the bundle.
The first thing you’ll notice about the phone is its large 4.3″ screen covered by Gorilla Glass. Below this screen is the dominant Home button, with two capacitive backlit keys for company.

There aren’t many buttons to talk about, except for a volume rocker on the left and a power switch on the right. The other thing that grabs your attention is the ultra-thin body, and at dimensions of 125.3 mm (l) x 66.1 mm (w) x 8.5 mm (d), it s currently the thinnest smartphone in the market. Being insanely slim adds to its looks, but grip-wise it feels like holding a thin bar of soap. Even the textured back doesn’t help much in providing a grip. This is because due to the phone’s size, the back barely contacts your palm. You’re left gripping the gadget by its sides, which feels very insecure.
Design wise, it’s still a run-of-the-mill Samsung phone, with only the display size and slimness hinting at its flagship status. The phone is all plastic; this helps in reducing the weight to a mere 116 grammes. However, I would have preferred some metal at the cost of increased weight, as found in most premium phones. Moreover, a fresh design wouldn’t have hurt either.
Surprisingly, the SIM slot is hot-swappable, while the memory card slot is not. This is stupid.

The Galaxy S II (GS2) is one of the fastest devices in the market. Packed with a dual-core 1.2 GHz CPU and a Mali 400MP GPU, the phone is absurdly powerful. Additionally, it has a maddening 1 GB RAM to take on all the crazy multitasking you ever wanted to. Other features include an 8 megapixel snapper, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, FM Radio, gyroscope, accelerometer, and an NFC chip.

When it comes to the screen, bigger is better, and Samsung knows it very well. The 480×800 pixel, 4.3″ Super AMOLED Plus screen not only impresses with its size, but also its pixel density. The brightness level is great, and is automatically adjusted with the help of an ambient light sensor. Colours can be as vibrant as you like, and I literally mean it. Samsung has thoughtfully given three Background Effect settings to adjust the the colour intensity. The viewing angles are exceptional, and the display remains perfectly visible in sunlight. All in all, no other phone’s display can come close to the GS2’s extraordinary screen.

Interface And Applications

Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) has been optimized for dual-core CPUs, and thankfully Samsung’s TouchWiz 4.0 doesn’t let it down. The manufacturer has introduced quite a few new features as well as fresh transition effects. The new look grabs you right from the Lock screen. You can now unlock the phone by swiping in any direction.

The home screens support heavy customization. You can add numerous widget shortcuts and folders as you please. Needless to say, you can rearrange the home panes by entering the exploded view, activated by a pinch-zoom gesture. Live Wallpapers are now almost alive, thanks to the spectacular screen. Oh, and just like the iPhone 4, you can now create folders to group applications as per your convenience. To do that, you need to go to Edit Mode while in the Applications menu. It then shows the option to drag and drop applications into an empty folder.

The notification area does its job and more by giving one-touch access to Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, sound, and the auto-rotate feature. Samsung has included a nice task manager that displays live apps and the memory status of the device. Finally, the phone performs some interesting gyro and accelerometer based tricks. For example, you can zoom in or zoom out of an image or webpage simply by tilting your device while holding two fingers on the screen. All in all, the interface is quite pleasing, but Samsung’s ugly icons are still hanging around.

If multitasking on Android was dope, then the GS2 is high on steroids. No matter how many apps you switch, the phone manages to keep things smooth. In short, it is almost impossible to slow down this beast.
Gingerbread’s browser is superb, and the phone’s specs take it to a whole new level. Calling it excellent is an understatement. Page rendering is blazing fast, and the text flow is accurate. The browser supports multiple windows, and pinch-zooming out a couple of times shows the open tabs.

The combination of Flash 10.1 support and a dual-core processor handles every website you throw at it. YouTube videos play so well in the browser that it makes the YouTube app pointless. To my surprise, the device even managed to play 1080p video in the browser. Needless to say, you can play any browser-based Flash game. Without a doubt, this is the  best browsing experience I’ve even had on a phone.

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