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Samsung Galaxy S II Review: In Depth

The Good

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The Bad

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UPDATE WITH VIDEO: Samsung’s new flagship phone, the Galaxy S2, picks up the flagship smartphone crown from its one-year-old brother, the original Galaxy S.

It’s grown up, yet also slimmed down, if that makes sense; they’ve managed to cram a dual-core processor, DLNA, an 8-megapixel camera capable of full 1080p HD video-recording into a slight 8.49mm thick phone.

They have even upgraded the Super AMOLED 4-inch screen of the original to a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED plus display – they’re running out of suffixes and affixes.

It’s one of the first dual-core phones to hit the UK- is it worth the fuss? Can an Android phone finally knock the iPhone off its perch?

What we like

Samsung know how to make a good screen, and the Galaxy S2 is a triumph. It’s bright, sharp, and makes everything we look at on it seem better. It’s a great phone to use for HD video playback and browsing photos, and that dual-core processor means we’ve barely seen a hiccup in our six days with the phone.

This includes the BBC iPlayer- this is the first phone we’ve seen that is able to keep up with the demanding streaming service as well as the iPhone.


Thanks to that extra power under the hood, everything runs silkily smooth. Running a load of apps concurrently,  the phone still performed brilliantly. We couldn’t feel any lag as we browsed the internet or played a brief session of Pocket Legends.

The phone is a beauty aside from the screen, with a thin profile and an unbelievable lightness that is a joy to hold. A textured back helps to keep hold of the otherwise smooth handset, and there’s minimal button and port intrusions.

You’ll find the combination screen lock and power button on the right side, and USB charger below. There’s no HDMI port, and thus no fiddly protector panel, instead it has MHL, which allows HDMI output through the microUSB port. It’ll also charge your phone while it plays video.

The Galaxy S2 can also share its multimedia goodness through DLNA- a media-sharing function supported by several big electronics manufactures, and meaning that you’ll be able to share photos, music and video between your phone and compatible speakers, TVs and PCs.

And you’ll want to share those home-made photos and videos, as the Samsung is packing an impressive eight-megapixel camera, capable of some impressive stills that puts it just behind the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and Nokia N8. Find out more in our Camera Comparison


High-definition video is also great quality. We were amazed by the clarity of the video we recorded, and again, thanks to the dual-core processor,

it kept up well with lighting changes and high-speed movement. The Galaxy S2 also comes with its own video editor, with some elementary tools to clip video, and add background music and stills. Sadly, this didn’t want to edit 1080 video, which seems like a strange oversight from Samsung.

Given its luminous (and large) screen and all its multimedia chops, not to mention a dual-core processor, we were expecting another HTC Desire- meaning; great phone, shame about the battery life.

But we were wrong, expect to get the same use out of the Galaxy S2 as you do on any other current smartphone. Obviously, your mileage may vary- if you’re constantly streaming radio on 3G, watching HD video and have all your social network apps regularly updating, you could find yourself recharging mid-afternoon, but with regular use, including the occasional phonecall, emails, messaging, internet browsing and the rest, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Talking about the rest, as an Android phone, there’s plenty to try from the Android market, ranging from maps to social network clients, from games to video streaming tools. There’s a wealth of apps available , and with a dual-core processor and the latest version of Android, the Galaxy S2 will more than likely be compatible with the majority of apps coming in the near-future.

We didn’t like

Although the Galaxy S2 breezed through everything we threw at it, there wasn’t anything that made us go, “Ah, this is a dual-core phone.” We understand it’ll take time before app developers will make full use of all that extra thinking power, but given its high-end price, we’d have hoped for some eye-opening apps to show it off.

The Galaxy S2 doesn’t have Nvidia’s Tegra 2 chip, which means Tegra Zone games, optimised especially for high-end Android phones- as long as they’re powered by Nvidia- don’t work on this phone.


There are other minor niggles- Samsung include their TouchWiz ‘interface’ on Gingerbread, the latest version of Android, and this means you get a more difficult keyboard. Thankfully, Samsung have included Swype, where you slide your fingers between the letter to make words, and this works much better.

Similarly, other small complaints have solutions; Samsung’s Hubs, covering books, social networks, games and music, are okay, but other apps generally do it better- especially with social media like Facebook and Twitter.


It’s a fantastic phone that has been cleverly created to stay relatively up-to-date in the near-future, with a high-speed dual-core processor, wireless syncing to your computer and the very latest version of Android.

That luscious screen stands alongside the iPhone 4 as a market-leading display and Samsung’s clever touches, like a special “outdoor brightness” setting for outdoor photos, makes it more intelligent too.

We think this is the best Android phone yet; all that extra power has made using Android as reliable and as smooth as the iPhone 4. With all that extra power, respectable battery life, and a beautiful screen,  it’s perhaps even the best smartphone available today.




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