The Galaxy S II has been one of those handsets that the mobile community has been craving for. Sure we have the iPhone 4, but S II was, as far as I was concerned, to be the next best thing or the alternative for those with lower budgets. A few weeks ago we did manage to get our hands on preview, but here’s a more in depth look at what the Galaxy S II has to offer. But to get the ball rolling here's a quick unboxing -
Let’s forget about it’s predecessor. It’s, to put it mildly, as good a phone as it is, but it’s a bit outdated as the world of Dual Core devices is here. The Galaxy S II is factually, the thinnest Android mobile phone in the market. It’s remarkably just 8.5mm in depth, which is just about a shade thinner than Apple’s iPhone. The 4.3-inch Gorilla Glass display manages to keep even smudges away, which makes viewing a real treat. If the colours are little too ‘in-your-face’, for lack of a better term, you can tone them down via the display settings for Background Effects. There’s even an option to activate an Outdoor mode that boosts both brightness and contrast to a seriously high level that makes it easier to view in bright sunlit conditions. However, even with default settings, you’ll have no real problem with viewing angles. The resolution on this, the first ever Super AMOLED Plus display is 480 x 800 pixels which is, of course not nearly as refined as the Retina Display on the iPhone 4 that has it beat hands down, even if the colours are brighter on the Galaxy S II.
The iPhone 4 should be a little worried
A couple of touch sensitive keys (return and menu) are placed on either side of the rectangular ‘Home’ button. The micro USB connector for charging, USB 2.0 for PC supported connectivity, MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link) support and USB-on-the-go (no adapter cables provided) is located at the bottom while a 3.5mm handsfree socket is placed on top. Volume/zoom keys are located on the right side while a screen lock/Power button is on the left. Pity Samsung didn’t incorporate a small shutter release for the camera but it’s not really missed. What is a bit of a disappointment is the lack of a hot swap memory card slot. However with 16GB of internal storage it’s not really something I was too concerned about.
The thinnest one yet!
While it ranks high with me on the design front, being so light weight (116g), so thin and yet so large, I did notice that those with slender or long fingers usually ended up gripping the phone in one hand and activating apps that were a little too close to the edge with the tips of their fingers. While sensitivity is a good thing, in this particular case it’s not a good thing. The S II also feels a bit plastic-y and delicate being as light as it as, however I did drop it (unintentionally) a couple of times and although a couple of locks on the rear popped up, the handset remained unscathed. Impressive!
Features and Performance
Samsung’s all new TouchWiz UI 4.0, although much better looking than past offerings, is a wee bit sluggish. Their new option of adding widgets is by opening up a small sliding section at the bottom of the display so you can click and drag whatever you want onto the multiple screens (than can be added or removed). What I don’t like about this UI is that once you’ve reached the last page it doesn’t return to the first page like Launcher Pro, which, by the way, worked out much better than the Stock UI.
TouchWiz UI 4.0, better than before, for sure!
TouchWiz’s overall functionality is quite well laid out. It allows you to arrange apps in the menus with an edit option and unlike the desktop, rotates back to the first page from the last. You can also create folders if you wish to be a little more organized. Like the LG Optimus 2X, the S II also has gesture-based features like holding down on an app and tilting the handset to move between screens. You can also flip the handset to silence it, hold your thumbs on either side of an image and tilt the handset forward or back to zoom in and out. The Double Tap for voice commands options was a complete bust as it worked in the trial simulation but never after.