The various Hubs that include Samsung’s Music Hub (that was inaccessible), Readers Hub for getting eBooks, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, Game Hub and Social Hub (showcases all SN accounts into one space – LinkedIn, FB, Twitter, Email, Windows Live Hotmail, Yahoo Mail and Chat, Gtalk etc.) are part of the new TouchWiz UI 4.0’s make up. Samsung even has their own App market for downloading apps and another link to an online store called Samsung Suggests that offers apps that work well with the S II. Push services for email and FB are no different from other Android powered device.
Plenty of connectivity options
What was a big disappointment was the absence of a preloaded GPS software app. Usually Samsung offers a Route 66 based app but with a High-end device like the Galaxy II, not having it made a big difference. All of Google’s services were however present and accounted for from Maps to Navigation and Places etc.
Some of the ‘extras’ that Samsung has thrown in with the phone as preloaded content include Mini Diary – that lets you capture images with geotags and add a little information about the picture to it. It’s similar to Sense UI’s Footprints. Polaris Office is provided for reading and accessing documents and of course all the standard Android apps like Google’s Voice Search, Voice Commands (The voice command settings worked quite well provided you speak loudly and slowly), Task’s, Voice Recorder, Calendar with Google Sync, World Clock, Stopwatch, Timer and another extra - a File Manager are also provided. Widgets like an Agenda, Ap Mobile, a Sticky Notes type app called Mini paper etc. are also thrown in.
GIngerbread all the way
With an 8 megapixel auto/touch focus camera with an LED flash loaded onto the S II that’s capable of recording videos in 1080p @30fps, the handset was even more impressive. Although, I do wish Android handset manufacturers could devise a simpler camera like the iPhone’s, the S II does manage to offer quite a range of very digicam like features. Those include a wide range of scene modes, Geotagging, face/smile and blink detection, White balance, Beauty shot, auto stitch Panorama mode, Cartoonize, and action shots, a timer and a few color effects amongst others. The touch focus isn’t nearly as good as any of HTC’s new devices but on the whole, image quality was great. Details were clear and quite crisp for a mobile camera. Colour reproduction was also quite vivid.
Outdoor looks pretty good too
Video capture was just a little bit framed but not enough for anyone who’s not overly particular to find a reason to complain. On the whole the camera proved to be quite an asset for the S II with almost instantaneous activation when selected. Processing was also quite speedy so most of the time you won’t really miss those spontaneous moments.
Auto stitch Panorama
The S II also features a 2 megapixel fixed focus camera up front near the proximity sensor, just above the display. This camera could be used for taking pictures of yourself or for video calls. The quality of pictures from this camera is also quite decent for both video and images.
Great for macro
The 1650 mAh battery works out just fine for the Galaxy S II clocking in at 6 hours of standalone talk time which is quite impressive as mobile handsets go. I was also able to watch 2 full length movies back to back without the handset dying on me. The task manager and device’s pre-loaded Power Saving mode does help optimize the battery life of the handset as well. You’ll get about a day and a half of usage which will easily include a little bit of video, music, web browsing and at least 2 hours worth of calls.
The Bottom Line
The Galaxy S II, although officially available for Rs. 32,490 (16GB), is also available, in some locations, for about Rs. 30,000. The fact that the device performs quite seamlessly and is priced rather reasonably, impressed me. When compared to similar products like the LG Optimus 2X or the Incredible S, the S II stands out. If ever the iPhone 4 had to seriously be worried, the Galaxy S II would be the handset that would make it sweat. The one thing Samsung should do for the S II in terms of packaging is - include a more cables to fill out the empty space in the premium pack. An adapter for USB (like Nokia's) and a MHL cable would have been great!
While it may not have the elegance of the simplistic yet, classy user experience as the iPhone 4, it makes up for it with speed and just tad more functionality. Of course that will all change come iOS 5, but for now, if the iPhone 4 is too heavy for your wallet, the Galaxy S II the next best thing and well worth the price tag.