It has been nearly two years since the Samsung Galaxy S II was announced in Barcelona during the Mobile World Congress. Since then the company has launched umpteen handsets in the Galaxy line and has constantly refreshed old smartphones with new internals. The latest refresh from Samsung comes in the form of the Galaxy S2 Plus, which updates the 2011 flagship.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 Plus comes with minor changes internally but retains its predecessor’s design and shape. In fact, putting these two phones side-by-side with the screen off, it’s almost impossible to tell them apart. At the moment, the phone is not available in India, but is expected to be launched in the first half of the year. We haven’t got any hands-on time with the phone, but we can run you through the specifications in detail.
OS – Android 4.1 Jelly Bean with TouchWiz UI 5.0
Samsung has not officially rebranded TouchWiz 5.0 as Nature UX, but the Galaxy S2 Plus does have the same UI as in the new Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note 2 (except for the S-Pen UI, of course). Nevertheless, we have seen that the new TouchWiz sheds some of the sluggishness that its previous iterations carried and the fact that Jelly Bean is on board should translate to very smooth UI navigation. The usual TouchWiz 5.0 goodies such as Popup Play, Smart Alerts, Smart Stay and Smart Call are present.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 Plus is also available in black
Cellular network – GSM and 3G
The connectivity options in the Galaxy S2 Plus are basically the same as the Galaxy S2. In that it supports 3G networks (HSDPA up to 21.1 Mbps HSUPA up to 5.76 Mbps) and can be used on 3G networks in 850 / 900 / 1900 / 2100 bands. That essentially means you won’t be left with just a PMP when travelling abroad with the S2 Plus.
Display – 4.3-inch Super AMOLED plus with WVGA resolution
This is one area where Samsung has tried to cut costs on the Galaxy S2 Plus. Despite the Plus in its name, this smartphone is actually inferior to the Galaxy S2 when it comes to the display. It has the same display size i.e 4.3 inches, and the same resolution, but Samsung has surprisingly opted to leave out the Gorilla Glass protection. That is a surprising move as the older smartphone had the first-generation Gorilla Glass protection. That surely could have been retained considering Gorilla Glass 3 is out in the market now.
Form factor and weight – Same old, same old
The Galaxy S2 Plus should have ideally shed some weight on the assembly line, but instead it is 5 g heavier than the S2 at 121 g. The two phones, however, are identical in dimensions.
The S2 Plus supports Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n bands and also has dual band capability to boost Wi-FI throughput speeds. You can share files using Wi-Fi Direct and stream content to televisions and home theatres through the integrated DLNA feature. Most Android phones nowadays have the Wi-Fi hotspot feature in-built and that’s present too.
SoC - Broadcom BCM28155 dual core processor
We can’t help but wonder if Samsung had some impending agreement with Broadcom for their BCM28155 chips. The Galaxy Grand has it and so does this one. Its two cores are clocked at 1.2GHz each and it has a Broadcom VideoCore IV GPU. The Galaxy S had Samsung’s homegrown Exynos dual-core processor and a Mali-400 GPU which was quite amazing for its time. The new processor is expected to bring better power efficiency and of course, is very economical for all parties involved. We are hoping Samsung’s savings here are reflected in the eventual price tag.
Samsung has halved the minimum storage in the Galaxy S2 Plus from its predecessor. It comes with 8GB of internal storage with an option to expand using microSD cards up to 64GB. Again, this should ideally result in savings for the end customer.
Primary camera – 8 megapixels with LED flash
This is perhaps the same sensor as the one used in Galaxy S2. For its time, it was a mighty camera, but things have changed a lot in the ensuing two years. It would be a miracle if it can in fact stand up to the camera on the Galaxy S3, but it is capable of shooting photos at a maximum resolution of 3264 x 2448 pixels. The LED flash should help in low-lighting conditions. It has features such as face and smile detection, image stabilisation, touch focus, continuous shot, panorama mode, smile shot and can snap photos during video recording at 720p resolution.
Front camera – 2 megapixels
The 2MP front camera should be good enough for clear video calls as well as self-shots. Once again, it has been retained from the original Galaxy S2.
GPS – Comes with A-GPS and GLONASS
Samsung has improved on the GPS capabilties in the Galaxy S2 Plus. There’s support for GLONASS, which should help speed up location lock times.
A slim body, just like the Galaxy S2
NFC is present on some models of the phone. We will have to wait and see if Samsung will include this feature in the India model. The Samsung Galaxy S III Mini, which is very similar in specs to this smartphone, does have that feature in the Indian models, so one can expect some NFC love for the S2 Plus too.
Battery – 1650mAh battery
The 1650 MaH battery is once again a carry over from the S2. In the Galaxy S2, we found that it was good for 6 hours of talk time. All in all, we reckon users will be able to squeeze out an entire day of usage with minimal 3G connectivity. On 2G networks, the phone should last a bit longer. Perhaps the newer processor should result in longer battery life. We will of course be doing a full test of the battery and will give you the results with the full-fledged review of the phone.
The bottom line
Without having the handset or any proper indication of its price, it is hard to say whether or not the Galaxy S2 Plus is wholly recommendable. But if Samsung does price it between Rs 15,000 and 17,000, then they could have a winner on their hands. At that range, it would be competing with the likes of the Sony Xperia U and HTC One V, both decent phones in their own right. But the S2 Plus has a better camera and the screen is terrific (albeit in a 2011 way). Maybe the processor could have been different and more powerful to justify the ‘Plus’ tag. All we can say at the moment is this is one phone to watch out for.