Introduced to the world at MWC 2011 in Barcelona as part of the Unpacked Event on 13th February 2011 the Galaxy SII is a powerhouse of a handset which is still selling globally in variations for each network and has sales topping 10m individual units.
This doesn’t come without it’s woes though as it’s also at the centre of several lawsuits against Samsung from Apple regarding design and other aspects.
Normally at this point in a review I would ask can it type questions however we know it can so there simply is no need.
Where to Purchase:
Phones in Category:
- HTC Sensation @ 399.99
- GSM 850 / 900 / 1800 / 1900
- HSDPA 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100
- 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm
- 116 g
- Super AMOLED Plus capacitive touchscreen | 16M colors
- 480 x 800 pixels | 4.3 inches (~217 ppi pixel density)
- Gorilla Glass display
- 16GB/32GB Internal storage
- 1GB RAM
- 8 MP Rear Camera | 3264×2448 pixels | autofocus | LED Flash
- 2 MP Front Camera
- 1080p @ 30fps Video Recording
- Android 2.3
- TouchWiz UI v4.0
- 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor | Mali-400MP GPU | Exynos chipset
- TV-out (via MHL A/V link)
- Li-Ion 1650 mAh Battery
- handset Design
- Charge / Sync Slot Location
- Back Cover
- Battery Life
- No LED Notification
In The Box:
- Samsung GT-I9100 Handset
- 3 Pin UK Charging Adapter
- USB to Micro-USB Data Cable
- In Ear Earphones
- Various Leaflets / Pamphlets
- Front – Speaker Grill ~ 4.3 inch screen ~ Touch Based Menu / Back Buttons ~ Physical Home Button ~ Proximity Sensort ~ Light Sensor ~ 2 MP Camera
- Back – 8MP Camera ~ LED Flash ~ Loud Speaker
- Top – 3.5mm Headphone Port ~ Secondary Microphone
- Bottom – Charge / Sync Port ~ Microphone
- Left – Volume Up & Down Buttons ~ Lanyard Eyelet
- Right – Power / Standby Button
READ THE REVIEW IN FULL BY CLICKING “READ MORE”
- Social Hub
- This app is exactly what it says, your hub for social activity. With the ability to add accounts on so many different Networking Sites, Email and Messenger this is is the most in depth of its type I have came across. Despite how well it is designed and how many options you have I personally didn’t find this useful but rather messy when it was set up for so many things. I much rather use individual apps or access email accounts one at a time though like I said, this is a personal preference and I know a lot of people like the idea of everything in the one place which makes it an ideal app for others.
- Music Hub
- Readers Hub
- Game Hub
- Yet another application and game market, this one powered by MOBAGE. I simply won’t spend any time discussing this, it’s silly that each manufacturer has their own take on this when the official market allows you to restrict handsets on apps uploaded. If you want to have your own apps Samsung, use the official market correctly and stop throwing more of these out there.
- All Share
- This is a media sharing application. One that works very well to be fair. The only downside with this, just like all other media sharing apps, is the limited information available on how to use the app and set things up.
- Kies Air
- Now then, this is without a doubt the single best application on the handset. Follow the on screen instructions and manager your phone via a remote link on the browser of PC. Send and Receive messages, view bookmarks, manage and view media, the list goes on. Trust me when I say that you wont be disappointed with this app.
- Video Maker
- Quite a nice quirky app, sadly I wasn’t able to grab more screenshots of this however there are several templates to create a video and it’s very simple and fun to use. The on screen instructions cover everything you need to know / do.
- Mini Diary
- Did I use this? No, as I have and use Google Calendar. I can’t personally see a need for this app outside being something different and giving you the opportunity to add location and photo’s to a diary entry as well as regular text.
- Samsung Apps
- Not again, do I even need to go here? 3 Markets on the one handset… honestly, where is the need?
- Task Manager
- Pretty basic application and does exactly what’s needed without fuss or mess.
- Pretty much an extension of the Social Hub application, brings the IM part of it to it’s own area so as you can imagine, I see this as a much not needed application.
- Polaris Office
- Yes, it’s simply Polaris Office Mobile, do I need to add more?
- BBC iPlayer
- 3 Guesses what this is and what what it does!
- Suggests that you go download an update as this app no longer works.
- Samsung Hub
This is the replacement app for Suggests, an integration of Suggests and other Samsung items which nearly had me ranting again. If it weren’t for the Amazing Samsung Info tab which gives video walkthroughs on various aspects / apps on the phone. It also comes with it’s own widget and though the widget is another App market, it looks pretty neat!
Having only recently started to deal with Samsung for review handsets I was desperate to get a hands on of this handset. Loads of sites have already reviewed it however for me that mattered not a jot. The handset was and still is eagerly anticipated despite it now being out performed in the CPU department by the LG Optimus 2X.
The packaging (box) for the handset is again pretty poor, I still can’t understand why, when you have a handset like this going to market, you don’t spend more time on something innovative and eye catching. A simple black box with reflective mirror like writing is how the phone is shipped (see our unboxing video).
Inserting the Sim Card and Memory Card is fairly simple on this device, though the back cover is a thick as a piece of paper, the parts that lie behind it are laid out pretty well. The sim card can be removed at convenience where as the memory card requires that you remove the battery beforehand. I can’t help but feel this was a design mistake realised too late.
Setting the phone up is very standard for Android devices, nothing particularly different about this handset except for a mighty impressive boot animation.
You are instantly greeted with a very annoying slide to unlock wallpaper screen. Believe it or not, it’s not a simple swipe to unlock, it’s more like a push.
Once unlocked you are greeted with the home screen and the first view of the TouchWiz 4.0 UI in the shape of the menu bar across the bottom. There are 7 home screens on the handset an unlike most devices they run from left to right rather than centre to left to right.
Going across the TouchWiz menu bar at the bottom we start that the phone. Not by any means the default Android phone screen, customised by Samsung it features an un required call log button as its duplicated on the top tabs and a message compose button.
The next thing on the menu was contacts. Nothing particularly unusual here so we will move on to messaging.
The messaging on the Galaxy SII is very different from stock messaging both in layout and options. Pressing the settings key to the left of the next button allows you to change from QWERTY keypad to other methods and pressing and holding the setting key will allow you to switch between the Samsung default keyboard and Swype (oh how we love Swype).
Rather than move on to the Applications menu I wanted to see how the handset handled widgets etc…
This was very non-stock like. Pressing and holding on an empty screen area area brought up the option to choose Widgets, Shortcuts, Wallpapers and Folders. None of the styles which these opened in were stock based, the widgets were brought up in a new menu across the bottom replacing the TouchWiz one and the others came up as seen below.
The handset remained in edit mode until the back button was pressed.
Another cool feature was the Gyroscope tilt feature which can be seen in the video below.
Now that I had seen the widgets handling it was time to go back and look at the applications menu.
This menu was very default TouchWiz style, with the ability to change the layout according to personal taste and go into edit mode very easily it was a sigh of relief to see they hadn’t messed too much with this.
The notification bar was next on my hitlist, a non stock notification bar though it’s now pretty much standard across all Android handsets that they feature some power control in there.
So what else did I play with and notice? Well there are a number of widgets that don’t have apps as seen below. It’s worth noting that the voice controls work very well on this handset, even with a dodgy Scottish accent. The other thing I noticed was that by pressing and holding the menu key you were given a list of running apps which is normal however the task manager button is also there which is not so normal
It was time to start the browser up and though (again) I forgot to get more screenshots, the browser handled magnificently well. Not only was it fast but its rendering of pages seemed both flawless and seamless. The addition of the Tilt feature which we saw in the video above also carried on to here. You are able to reduce and enlarge the screen size using a hold two point on the screen and tilt technique. Can’t say I honestly used this feature a lot as call me old fashioned but I like the pinch and zoom feature just the way it is.
Sadly I’m no photographer so I can’t say just how great this camera was in terms of professional values however I can guarantee that you won’t get much better from a personal camera without an optical zoom. I wasn’t let down at all with the quality of the images produced were simply wonderful and the colour spectrum the device showed in 8MP mode was a testament to the Super AMOLOD screen and resolution within.
The front facing camera being a 2MP camera is also amazing, it’s so refreshing to have a camera on the front that takes fairly decent snaps and isn’t VGA quality, though with my ugly mug I think I prefer the grainy VGA.
When you have 1080p HD Recording can you really ask for more? Well actually yeah… the handset is seriously lacking a mini-HDMI port to show off the quality on a compatible screen. Looking on the handset is wonderful, that’s not the issue here though. If I have a level of recording like that then I want to be able to output it to a TV in the same resolution.
The music player is much like any other Android music player, it handles MP3. WAV, eAAC+, AC3, and FLAC formats and with the supplied earphones being of such good quality I can tell you that my Beatles FLAC files sounded better on there than on my laptop.
I’m not much of a mobile gamer though the games I did play (OK it was Angry Birds again) were handled fine. There was no lag and I simply couldn’t fault it for this at all.
This is one of those “oops” moments when you realised you realise you forgot to benchmark a handset before returning it. Sorry about this
TechRadar (incase you were wondering) scored it at 3721 on Antutu so don’t go away from here saying I didn’t get you a benchmark score.
Hints & Tips:
Did you know you can screenshot on the device by pressing the Home button in followed by the power button? This takes some getting used to however the results can be seen on every screenshot in this review.
I wasn’t able to hold on to this handset for as long as I would have like to have (like forever) though in the short time I did have it I was greatly impressed. Even after having the powerful X2 device to review this handset still seemed more powerful and slick.
The biggest let downs for me though were the battery life. Although not covered in great detail in my review, it was a major disappointment. A full charge and pretty normal useage meant I had to charge pretty much twice a day.
Now that each country and network has it’s own version of this handset I wouldn’t be surprised to see another record bursting sales figure sprout out in the not so distant future.
For me this handset is worth every penny, though there are others out there at a cheaper price, don’t let yourself be tricked into thinking they are any better.