Phone

Samsung Galaxy S II (I9100): Android’s Best

5 million users cannot be wrong. The Samsung Galaxy S2 has sold that amount within 3 months since launch. Little wonder why the industry proclaims that this is possibly the best Android smartphone yet.

Here are some of the reasons why:

4.27-inch Super AMOLED Plus. One of the largest screens among Android phones, it gives you fabulous display sharpness and vibrancy. It’s so bright that you can still see the display in broad daylight. Here’s a comparison with the Galaxy S.

8 mega-pixel rear camera with LED. Delivers very sharp images with details. Here is one sample below – click it to view it full size. Just remember to clean the lens before shooting, unless you desire a soft halo effect.

2 mega-pixel front camera. This is the best quality front-facing camera I have experienced. There is no longer a compromise in image quality – except that it’s in lower resolution. Check out my Facebook profile pic here. And just look at the camera size difference compared to Galaxy S.

Full HD 1080p video recording. Recorded in MP4 and with continuous auto-focus capability, the quality is comparable to the compact digital cameras in the market. But continuous AF speed is rather slow, digital zoom is not supported, and the field of view is cropped. The depth of field is also much shallower, which although gives a nice background separation, out-of-focus subjects are more apparent. Personally, I would shoot at lower resolutions are most situations as the file size is smaller, I can use digital zoom, and able to shoot at a wider angle.

Dual-core 1.2GHz. Running on the latest Android Gingerbread OS 2.3, it gives a trail-blazing benchmark result over the average smartphones. Tasks get completed before you knew it. Games run uber-smooth, no lags or sporadic freezes!

8.49mm thin, 116g light (Galaxy S is 9.9mm, 119g). It’s unbelievably light for the size, some people might find it lacks substance – or feels plasticky. Yet, the build is good, and the thin battery cover clips on tightly.

Built-in 16GB user memory. Even till today, the majority of the Android phones do not provide a large user memory, and stores user data into the removable memory card, and that sounds silly since technically you can’t swap the memory card since that would lose all the important user data that the phone needs to function. Not Galaxy S2. You have about 16GB of non-removable storage for anything you want, plus another micoSD card slot for some more storage up to 32GB.

Improved design. Even though the Galaxy S2 is larger than the Galaxy S, its power and volume buttons are still within reach of your fingers in the natural position. This is very important: many smartphones place the power button at the top of the phone, so a user would have to use the other hand to press it. The power button for Android devices is no longer a function merely to power down the device: it is an important button to switch off the display and prevent any accidental touches to the screen.

I also appreciate that the micro USB port is moved to the bottom of the phone. And notice that the touch key icons are completely non-visible until they light up.

Video and Audio playback. This phone is one of the few devices in the market that can play almost any popular portable video and audio format. This is an advantage that till today many smartphones are unable to meet.

Let me highlight some features which I do not care for, but nonetheless enhances the Galaxy S2 desirability:

Motion Controls. When viewing photos or webpages, press 2 fingers on the screen, and you can zoom in and out by moving the Galaxy S2 towards or away from you. A gimmick, I’d say, because it only works on specific apps. Frankly, it’s faster to zoom using the universal 2-finger pinch.

Another motion control function is panning. Tap and hold an item at the home screen and then move the Galaxy S2 to the left or right. Again, this only works in limited apps.

Wi-Fi Direct. Theoretically, you can connect to another Wi-Fi device without the need of a router. In practical, both devices need to have this function before it works.

Kies Air. You can now synchronise your phone to your PC Kies software over-the-air.

Voice Controls. Samsung voice controls are pretty amazing, you can command the phone to do almost anything, like start an app, dial a phone number, search a location. But it’s still a hit-and-miss situation for me, so I’d rather control directly.

NFC. With Near Field Communication, the device can communicate to other NFC devices for information exchange, like contactless payment. (this feature might not be available in all Galaxy S2 models)

Hubs. Samsung is promoting this Hub concept in many of their tech products, including Smart TV. There are 4 hubs: Social, Music, Game, Reader (Music Hub is not available in Singapore). With Hub apps, you get a specialised platform to interact the respective categories. Social Hub is the one app that converges all your interaction with your contacts – SMS, mail, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Game Hub lets you play interactive games with peers. Readers Hub is the place to access electronic print media.
 
TouchWiz. I’m not a fan of Samsung’s custom launcher, so I won’t comment much on the usefulness (or uselessness) of the pre-installed apps. As Android users, you have a choice to use third party apps. All I would say is: I made my Galaxy S2 usage experience better by running third party launcher apps.

With so many good things said about the Galaxy S2. Let’s move on to the pain points.

Battery spec 1650mAh. The original Galaxy S is already 1500mAh, and here the dual-core S2 merely increased the battery capacity a little. With my kind of usage, the phone barely made it through my 9-hour work day. Samsung did provide an optional power pack for the heavy users. Form over function, I suppose.

Speaker quality. The Galaxy S2 speakers sound brighter and bass is non-existent. Personally I prefer the Galaxy S audio quality, though S2 sounds louder.

Hyper-sensitive touchscreen. The Galaxy S2 responds to any minute touch and movement of the finger. That means sometimes when I try to press an icon, if my finger shifted while pressing, the S2 interprets it as a swipe. Also, due to the reduced screen gap at the sides, sometimes when I hold the phone and my palm comes in contact with the edge of the screen, it would activate the touchscreen.

Charging time. Just like the Galaxy S, the S2 takes too long to fully charge the battery. Some other competitors can manage a full charge in about 2 hours, but Galaxy requires double the time.

Heats up easily. This is a common “problem” for most Android devices, so just got to get used to it. Good way to keep your hands warm in the freezing office, though.

Network quality. The speedy experience in using the Galaxy S2 could be marred by the dodgy network coverage.

Price. The Galaxy S2 is around S$900, which is hefty when comparing to other smartphones.

Conclusion

Some other smartphones may lay claim to better features and specs, yet the Samsung Galaxy S2 has a longer list of better features in one device than any other smartphones. What you are getting is nothing short of a blazing mobile computing device that is worth every dollar you pay for. Install any apps and the Galaxy S2 will oblige with speed and ease. Just keep watch on the battery utilisation, charge when available, and enjoy the ride.

One comment
  1. Palah

    battery life is a big let down… just like a 350km/h car that can only (speed limits) do 30km/h… all the speed of SGS11 (millisecs)against a device that can last at least a full day with BTooth & GPS, push email etc enabled shows style over function will lose each time, at least for anybody who values such things 🙂

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