on 30 May 2011
I bought Galaxy S2 after a thorough review of the phone and continuously monitoring feedback given. I must say, I am not disappointed but truly amazed how intuitive and well designed. I would agree with most of the reviews before and will try to cover some aspects not so far covered in reviews in the hope that it will help other prospective buyers in making a decision to buy a smart phone, after all you would be paying more than for a 42" HD TV.
I have been a iPhone 4 and Blackberry user and use the phone for e-mails and browsing a lot. Before deciding to purchase this phone (now have used it for about a week)I considered Blackberry Torch and iPhone4 and very much aware of capabilities and limitations of these.
e-mail, contacts, calander: you can set up multiple e-mail accounts (I have set up and using 3 accounts: gmail, hotmail and MS Exchange server). All work very well. You can synchronize e-mail, contacts, and calendar of all these accounts on the phone and they appear on the the respective application colour coded making it possible to see from what account it came from. Further you can access e-mails separately on different accounts on the same e-mail app.
Browser is very good and reliable. Yes, flash content can be viewed. Browsing is much faster and smoother than iPhone4.
Apps: Yes, it is not as extensive as the iTunes but there are enough Apps available (some preloaded, available from Samsung, and from Android market). Most Apps are free compared to iTunes. I did not have any problem with the Apps I downloaded so far.
Music Hub: It is primarily for you to download music from 7digital. The player there is not great. But there is a separate App for music which works fine with your downloaded music.
Social Hub: for e-mails, integrates well with Facebook, my space, twitter, LinkedIn etc.
Games Hub: There are free games for you to download and play as well as premium games for you to purchase.
Kies: provides the interface management App when connected to the computer (same as iTunes for iPhone). This is possibly one of the weakest. It is very slow to update. Having said that it works fine if you are bit patient. But to add music or download/upload photos or movies you really do not need it. You can use widows explorer to do that job directly accessing the phone and placing or taking content you need directly from or the the folder concerned.
Kies Air: this is one the good things. You can access all your content from the phone on a web browser by pointing the browser to the IP address given by Kies Air. For this you need to get connected on the your home wireless network. It works fine, and you can play music, view photos or videos wirelessly on any other device that is connected to your network and which has a browser. If you have a TV with a browser (Smart TV or other)or laptop you can play content fro the phone on it without any wired connection.
I connected my Galaxy S2 to a friends iPad this way wireless and could view photos but could not play music as iPad do not support flash. Good for the Galaxy S2 and shame for iPad/iPhone.
Maps, navigator, Google earth and similar Apps work fine. The Navigator works fine and is very responsive. It consumes the battery power and if you want to use it for long needs to be charged through the car charger. You would require a USB car charger and the supplied micro USB cable.
It has FM radio, treat on the move compared to iPhone. Comes with great set of high quality headphones with additional ear pieces.
The notification system is very good with all notifications iconised on a bar top of the screen which can be pulled down whenever you want to see the notifications.
Yes, with all these facilities battery life is low and you need to charge every day if you are a heavy user of these all functions. One way to improve battery life is to limit pushing of e-mails. These can easily be done on the settings menu.
Camera rear(8MP)works really well. The front camera at 3MP is also very good. Managed to get few very good quality photos. The quality of photos is better than iPhone. Screen quality is equal or better than iPhone. Comparing the screen size the iPhone4 now seems like a distant toy much smaller. There are many Apps available on the Android market (most as free downloads) which can integrate all your photos in (for example Facebook, Picasa etc.) one App.
Office & Pdf Documents: The Polaris App is pre-loaded in the phone. It can read and edit all office documents such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint.
Voice commands: Works fine. You can easily dictate your e-mails and all is then converted to text. I could get over 90% accuracy even with my first attempt. It is a treat to use.
I am using the Sunny Savers gel/Silicone hybrid cover (£3.95) which nicely fit in to the Galaxy S2. A perfect companion.
All in all a very good phone and I am very pleased with the quality of it.
UPDATE after 3months
I recently went to Australia and used my phone as a Navigator. It works superbly without any problems. Google maps and the navigator gives turn by turn instructions (audio as well). GPS works fine. You need to keep the phone connected to the car charger otherwise the battery get fully drained quickly. It saved me more than $100 as map downloads and navigators are expensive over there.
on 11 September 2011
I Love this phone. I won't pretend I get the ins and outs of of the technical side of it.
I'm a technophobe at all, but I'm no wizz. This is a very easy phont to use. I always
get Nokias so I was a bit nervous about going with a make I've never tried before but its so simple.
And stunning, the colours you get on the screen, the clarity of the picture is amaxing, my best firend
has an iphone 4 and it doesn't even compare to the S2! Its so easy to put music on, it took a while
but I think thats because my laptop had trouble keeping up! Thats one of the most impressive thing
about this phone is it so damn fast. I'd given up going online with my old X6 becasue it took so long
to load and was real baal ache, this is wizzy, its zooms!! And thats what I wanted. The apps available
good, I've already used the Kindle app and Vouchercloud and so many more, they're easy to find and download
in just seconds.
I'd also like to comment on what other people have put about the battery, Tiday I've listened to about 3
hours of music, been online for about an hour, made several phonecalls/sent txts, played a game for a bit
and used the camera and the battery has hardly gone down at all. I have got it in power saving mode from 70%
and I have the wifi and 3g off when I'm not using it. I was abit worried by other reviews that I'd have to
carry a charger with me everywhere!! But I don't know what they were doing on the phone to run the battery down
that quickly?!!? If you use it all day online/music/games then yes I suppose it would go down fast but who
has the time for that? Don't most people have jobs?? If you're online that much all day then surely you'd have
a pc or laptop and not just use your phone!! I so far have had no issues with battery.
I'm very happy with my phone and have yet to find any major faults with it!
on 18 July 2011
As an iPhone 4 user since last year I had the chance to try out my first Android phone, the current top of the line Samsung Galaxy S II (i9100) thanks to TRND. COM
And I have to say I am really impressed with what I saw and experienced with this Samsung phone.
---- Hardware (general build and feel) ----
Extremely lightweight, very nicely balanced. The handset size seems very good (perfect for a man's hand although my wife also likes it very much), actually hides its actual size due to its thinness and weight.
Materials used have a good haptic touch, although it feels slightly less expensive then the iPhone 4 (probably because it uses more plastic and less glass/ metal).
The back cover is slightly difficult to remove because it initially feels flimsier then it actually is but unproblematic once you get used to it and no problem at all if you need to insert a microSD card, replace the SIM or change the battery.
A very high quality in-ear headset is included which I massively prefer instead of the Apple headsets - but this may be a personal decision.
-> Conclusion: In all the Samsung is on par with the iPhone 4, each has its own merits.
---- Screen ----
Large (4.3"), very crisp and sharp display, great colors (better then the iPhone4 Retina display in this regard but also a bit darker).
The screen (using an enhanced AMOLED technology which Samsung coined "Super AMOLED Plus" is probably the best stand-out feature of the Samsung and puts it over the top of all current smartphones.
-> Conclusion: In all slightly better then the iPhone 4 due to size and colours.
---- Operating System ----
Uses Andoid 2.3.3 (named Gingerbread), the most current smartphone version of Google's Android OS. With many great and useful Android features (notification), but others like Apple are catching up fast to we need continued progress. And this is good for the consumer!
I had no crashes or reboots using the Samsung during the last four weeks, only once the Facebook app needed to be restarted but I guess that was the app itself and not the OS.
-> Conclusion: Probably just as good as IOS 4, I prefer the Apple although this may very much depend on the personal preference so I will call it a draw. (3:2)
---- Samsung OS Add-ins ----
Samsung added its own refinement ("TouchWiz 4.0") on top of Gingerbread to enhance the experience.
I loved the fast access to settings like turning on/off Bluetooth, GPS, WiFi etc and some scalable widgets seems useful.
I am not too sure about the hubs concept - I personally rather like to use specific or native apps for specific media types.
Samsung also included a DLNA compliant server application, which enables the phone to wirelessly "send" pictures, videos and music from the handset to a number of devices like modern TVs, Playstation 3, Xbox360 or even to a Windows 7 PC.
I personally like the optional Swype keyboard which Samsung provides - this enables you to type words without lifting your fingers. After using it once on the Galaxy, I missed such a feature on the iPhone.
The Samsung also has a remote management feature ("Samsung Dive"), which enables finding or disabling the phone if it lost, similar to the "Find my iPhone" service of Apple.
Samsung provides an own software suite for Windows and OSX PCs called Samsung KIES, which even enables a wireless sync to the PC. Media management of KIES is good but not as good as Apple's iTunes. There are a few sellers for Android music (most prominently Amazon) but Video content does not seem to be available anywhere.
-> Conclusion: Better then IOS 4, although this may really depend on the personal preference, especially if do not like to "bring your own media".
---- Speed ----
The Samsung has a 1.2GHz dual core processor and it shows in general responsiveness - I never had the feeling of lag while using the touchscreen or apps. Of course measuring and comparing speed within apps is difficult (for example Angry Birds game seemed slower - lower FPS - then on the iPhone4) but the web load rendering on WiFi and 3G is noticeably faster than the current iPhone generation. Also a reloading of web pages was rarely required, possibly also be a due to increased memory (1GB RAM). The problem with speed within graphic intense games may be a general issue with Android OS, not anything Samsung can directly improve.
-> Conclusion: Slight preference of Samsung, but YMMV because this may depend on the apps used. Will probably be no difference for most users.
---- Battery ----
My own requirements are that any phone should last at least 36-40 hours with my normal usage pattern. 40 hours would be perfect. Take a fully charged phone from the bedside, use it normally during the day and only require charging again the evening of the NEXT day, when you go to sleep. This way you know you'll have enough power if (i) you could not charge it daily and (ii) required more usage then normally (e.g. on a trip when you need to use GPS and 3G more frequently then usual).
Until now the only current generation smartphone capable of that was the iPhone4. Now the Samsung got this right, it gets me through a whole day and a half. Although my iPhone (even with it's almost year old battery) is slightly better, above the 10% charge around the 40 hour mark with own usage, I did not get the chance to "condition" the Samsung battery as I regularly do with my iPhone. So your mileage may vary. And of course you can carry a swappable replacement Samsung battery (reasonable cheap - around 20 on Amazon), which is not possible for an iPhone at all.
-> Conclusion: Very slightly prefer the iPhone, but the Samsung would be ahead if I took a spare battery into account.
---- Camera ----
Until now I believed the best smartphone camera was on the iPhone4 but Samsung definitely beat Apple's phone. Each and every picture I took (outdoor, indoor, low-light) was better on the Samsung Galaxy S II, even if I compare the front cameras of both phones. And the HD video capabilities also seem to better then Apples top model. I only miss a build in HDR functionality (even the pseudo HDR Apple delivers would have been good) but this can be remedied using a number of camera apps from the Android market. And a dedicated camera button would have been great but the
-> Conclusion: Samsung first, iPhone4 is clearly only second best, and other phones have al lot of catching up to do.
---- Connectivity ----
It has all the current features (3G/HSPA+, WiFi, FM-Radio, HDMI & USB) but what really is a standout feature for me personally is the Bluetooth rSAP support (Remote SIM Access Protocol) as part of its package of Bluetooth protocols. This enables my build-in car phone to connect to the Samsung, something no iPhone and barely any other smartphone can do!
The Galaxy S II version for the German market does not have 4G but it would be useless anyway with its current rollout status here.
-> Conclusion: Samsung wins, at least with FM Radio & HDM, even if people do not care about rSAP Bluetooth as I do.
---- Future OS Upgrade ----
Not known, currently has 2.3.3 (Gingerbread), any newer version (e.g. Ice-cream Sandwich) will depend on (a) your phone provider (b) Samsung and (c) Google. But most manufactures promised to update at least for 18 months and then there is always the rooting community. But since Apple has provided around 30month of firmware updates to its prior iPhones the 18 month do sound only very basic.
-> Conclusion: Here Apple has set a benchmark to beat (firmware support up to 3 years), Samsung has to prove it can deliver on its promise.
---- Price ----
The price may depends of the type of contract you have with your provider but if I take the unlocked and no contract version into account, the Samsung is very reasonable and much better then its direct competitor. The street price (e.g. Amazon) six weeks after it's launch is around 470 GBR, an iPhone 4 still costs at least 510 GBR one year after it's launch.
But do not forget that the one time cost of a mobile is usually nothing compared to the total you are paying monthly for the 2-year contract.
-> Conclusion: The Samsung Galaxy S II is the better deal ("more bang for the buck"), with or without a contract.
---- Final Conclusion ----
Definitely the best Android mobile phone, it wins or is at least on par with all the key factors. My (subjective) comparison would give it an 8:6 lead against an iPhone 4.
The Samsung Galaxy S2 has no real weakness, very much unlike most its competitors.
For any "new comer", current Android users as well as many iPhone users it should be a no-brainer to choose the Samsung Galaxy S II.
And I would have probably switched to this Samsung without hesitation but at the moment I would need to justify the loss of all the investment I made to the Apple ecosystem (apps, accessories, media).
---- What Samsung should improve? ----
- Documentation: There was not much, especially more info about Samsung's own apps and pointers towards the KIES Windows/Mac software would have been great.
- Branding: Is it called Samsung Galaxy S II or Samsung Galaxy S2 or Samsung i9100? Just own your brand and decide on ONE name with one spelling, worldwide! Especially do not allow the carriers/providers to change the name (as it is often done in the US).
- Camera: An external hardware shutter button would be nice, as would be build-in additional camera app features (like HDR or filters).
- Updates: Apples keeps it iPhones up-to-date with new Firmware for about 30month (at least that what they did with the first two generations). It would be a very good sign for the consumers if Samsung did the same or at least provide updates to the customers for more than the 18 month they recently announced together with Google. After all a contract is usually 24 months for the end customers so this timeframe should be covered!
on 8 May 2011
**** 8 WEEK UPDATE ****
Having had this phone for two months now I thought I'd update this. There are several things now about Android and the GS2 in general that are now apparent to me and may be deal-breakers for some of you, though it should be noted that most of these are applicable to all Android phones, and not just the GS2:
1. If you use your phone as your primary music player (e.g. like an iPod) then this is NOT the phone for you - it (as far as I can determine) has no dedicated hardware to decode audio and so it uses a lot of CPU power to play music. The phone will get very hot in your pocket from the CPU heat and within 4 hours the battery will be completely dead. This turned out to be a deal breaker for me as I use my phone extensively for music playback, and the iPhone is still the only phone I know of that gives 40 hours playback.
2. Gapless audio playback is not supported by Android, though some players buffer the next track to simulate the feature (e.g. PowerAmp) if you're willing to pay for them. Gapless playback may be supported in future Android versions, though I don't know how or when one could find out exactly what version of Android will support it.
3. There is a very common bug in the GS2 whereby an application called 'Wifi Sharing' will randomly start itself in the background and consume a huge amount of CPU power (doing nothing) and drain your battery SEVERELY. Your battery will be dead in 6 hours if you don't 'force close' the application. The only solution at the moment if you have this problem is to install something like WatchDog Lite and set up an 'alert' to warn you when Wifi Sharing starts to overtake your CPU so that you can 'force close' it.
4. For all of Android's beauty and the Touchwiz inteface Samsung has put on top of it, I've become aware of some quirks of Android, especially relating to the (VERY) inconsistent use of the menu button. Many applications use this button differently (or not at all), showing different menu items on this button depending on what screen/section you are in on the application. It's definitely not intuitive in this regard compared to iOS, though some applications do use it appropriately and in a logical manner. On the other hand, the 'back' button is fantastic and I think Apple should employ one in their phones, too.
5. Screen burn-in. I've not seen many posts about this around the intertubes, but there is what can only be described as burn-in visible on the notification/status bar of the phone when you are using an application that hides the bar (e.g. having a white section where the status bar would otherwise be displayed). It looks exactly the same as burn-in looks on a plasma television; a slightly dark/grey area where the reception indicator, clock, and other indicators normally display. I suspect this is related to the super AMOLED plus screen technology though most people will probably never notice it - if they did it would be discussed in forums all over the internet.
6. Complications with applications are frequent. Unfortunately it would seem the Android market is severely fragmented due to the shear variety of different Android hardware (i.e. handsets) available. Almost every app you download will have comments attached saying things like 'won't work on HTC Desire... ' or 'If you get the so-and-so issue then uninstall, reset and reinstall' etc., etc., Coming from iOS, this is rather jarring and definitely does not fly on a 500GBP product. Furthermore, with the exception of the very common/popular applications, you are very likely to encounter flakey apps that consume too much battery power or randomly crash/force close (or 'FC' as it's commonly called in the Android community)
7. Speaking of battery power... In my initial review (below) I mentioned how awesome it is to have widgets on the home screen. This remains true, but generally at the expense of battery life. This, combined with the battery drain experienced when using the phone for audio playback will very quickly drain your battery. You will be lucky to last the working day if you also use the phone on the road to receive and respond to emails in addition to your music, surfing, widgets, etc. This may be considered an acceptable trade-off, but no one warns you of it beforehand (at least I wasn't aware of it, and just assumed I'd still get at least a full day out of the battery). I've since learned Android phones have a horrible reputation for poor battery life. Expect to last around 12 hours with medium-light use.
With all the above said, this remains an outstanding phone and by all accounts one of the very best phones available on the market. It is super-fast - faster than my laptop - and the physical design is beautiful. For any existing Android user this phone is a dream. For people coming from iOS, I hope the above update has warned you of some of the limitations on this otherwise outstanding product.
Coming from an iPhone background (iPhone 3G and iPhone 4) and I must admit I was hesitant to leave the iOS platform and ecosystem.
I got so fed up with my slow 3G and the general lack of improvement in the iOS platform over the last 6-12 months that I started contemplating switching to Android. In the past, when I've asked and Android user what they think of their phone the reply has been 'you get used to it'. Not very encouraging! However, after a bit of research I discovered that Android has changed a LOT in the last 12-18 months, and the awkward Android product I played with a year ago is no more.
Brilliant. The software is surprisingly intuitive and does absolutely everything I need straight out of the box. Widgets on the home screen(s) are really useful (seriously Apple, you need to make this happen!) and you can even made contact shortcuts on your home screen(s) from which you can instantly call/sms/email/etc - very handy!
I understand that Samsung has put a layer over Android on this called 'Touchwiz 4.0'. I don't know what the vanilla version of Android 2.3.3 is like, but Touchwiz is really great and the experience is akin to that of iOS, though infinitely more customisable!
Generally speaking, it would seem that it's possible to configure the various home screens and app pages pretty much exactly as you want them. Plus, there are heaps of other widgets that can be downloaded and added to the home screen, too. I can't stress enough how useful it is to have an email and schedule widget ever-present on your home screen(s), reminding you at a glance exactly what's on the agenda and letting you see the first few lines of new emails. In my opinion this feature alone makes it a better business phone compared to the iPhone (though I hear the Blackberry is still king).
As for apps, the Android Market is definitely not as slick as the iOS AppStore, but it's not that bad, either. I was kind of expecting some horrible, unusable experience, but that's far from the truth. In reality, it's a pretty quick, usable market and there are loads of free apps available. Every major app I used on my iPhone was also available on this phone, often for free(!?) - for some reason the developers have chosen to sell the iPhone version of an app yet make it free on Android (though some of these are ad-supported).
Notifications are also a HUGE improvement compared to iOS. I no longer accidentally 'OK' a notification without reading it because it popped up as I was typing a message like I did with the iPhone. Instead, this phone puts little icons in the top status bar that alert you to any notification that's happening (e.g. email, sms, calendar reminder, app installation, etc.). You can choose if and when to dismiss the notification, or leave it in the notification menu to look at again later (very useful!). Again, this was a MAJOR issue I had with iOS and it's great to see this problem solved so intelligently in Android.
Getting data on and off this phone is a breeze compared to the iPhone. No more iTunes, though if you really still want it you can get software that will allows you to continue using iTunes with your Android phone. I just discovered an app in the menu called 'Kies Air', which amazingly lets you transfer everything on and off your phone wirelessly using a browser on your computer! There is also an installed Kies application on your computer that is somewhat akin to iTunes but about 400% faster at transferring music (in my experience).
You can buy music from Amazon MP3 as well, kind of like iTunes on the iPhone. Search, preview and purchase. The usual drill. Amazon seems a bit cheaper compared to iTunes on some of the albums I've looked at.
The screen is amazing - easily the best mobile phone screen I've ever seen. Blacks are really black! There is no backlight in the display at all because it is AMOLED, so it makes the colour and contrast really stand out. When using the phone, a black background (e.g. in a menu) blend perfectly with the rest of the phone's body, making it sort of feel like it's all one giant display. There are also two touch sensitive 'buttons' at the bottom of the display, to the left and right side of the home button, which is physical. When you press these buttons they light up, and the phone very quickly and gently vibrates a tiny bit to provide further user feedback that it was pressed. A similar vibration happens with the on screen keyboard, and I really like it; it feel more like you're pressing physical buttons.
Speaking of which, the ham-fisted among us can rejoice! The 4.3" screen is so much easier to type on than the smaller screen found on the iPhone. My typing error rate reduced immediately and I rarely have to backspace/re-type words now because the keyboard is physically larger.
The pixels on the phone are small enough that you can read most web pages without having to zoom in; according to the specs it's not as pixel-dense as the iPhone 4 display, but my eyes can't really tell the difference to be honest, and whatever it loses on the spec sheet it surely gains back by virtue of it's vibrant rendition of colour and absolute blacks.
For a phone, this camera on the back is quite fantastic. Easily matching the iPhone 4's brilliant camera, but surpassing it in resolution. The camera software has heaps of bells and whistles which I am yet to play with, but for quick point-and-shoot, it's easy, fast, and very high quality; good enough to replace a dedicated point-and-shoot camera for basic outdoor photos (e.g. at a BBQ for example).
It also records full 1080p HD video, though I'm not a big video fan and haven't really played around with it much.
I haven't really used the camera on the front, since I don't make video calls. However, at around 2Mpx it seems to take decent self portraits if the lighting is right, but it's really only designed for video calls anyway, so it's the back camera that really impresses.
I'm sure a lot more could be said about the beautiful screen on this phone but it's best to experience it yourself. From an industrial design perspective this phone is a work of art - a beautiful, thin, black, flat slab with gun metal grey edging; it weighs in at only 116 grams.
This makes it lighter than the vast majority of phones on the market, and very noticeably lighter in the hand than the iPhone 4 which weighs in at around 137 grams. Holding one in each hand, the iPhone 4 feels like a brick by comparison, albeit a beautiful one. Interestingly, the lightness of the Samsung in no way cheapens it's feel; it's very solid and doesn't squeak, twist or give any indication that it's anything other than an extremely well built product.
Lying down and holding the phone up to your face to watch a movie or read news is noticeably easier due to it's light weight. In fact, lengthy phone calls are also noticeably less tiring on the arms - as strange as this sounds, after 1.5hrs on the phone you do feel the difference 20grams makes in your hand.
There is space underneath the battery cover to put in your SIM card and/or microSD card. I don't need the SD card because there is already 16GB of memory in this phone, which is way more than I'll ever use. Nevertheless, if you have absolutely loads of music and videos then this is an extremely cheap and easy way of increasing the capacity of your phone.
This phone also uses the new standard for phone chargers - essentially a microUSB port - located at the bottom of the phone (the headphone jack is at the top). This single multi-purpose port is used when connecting the phone to your computer, charger or whatever.
This phone is MUCH more comfortable against the ear compared to either the iPhone 3G and iPhone 4 (which I found hurt my ear due to the rather sharp edge of the glass display). I also found the audio to be louder if not clearer, which was a pleasant surprise. Reception is strong everywhere so far and I've had no dropped calls and no antenna strength issues no matter how I'm holding the phone. The manual states that the antenna is positioned on the back of the phone near the very bottom, so if you cup your hand tightly around the very base of the phone it loses one bar of strength according to my experiments - though it would be difficult to hold the phone in this way against your ear for a phone call so I don't ever seeing this being a problem for anyone in the real world.
In my opinion this is a better phone than the iPhone 4 and the best smartphone available right now. It is lightening fast, has an amazing screen, very intuitive, usable and customisable software, and seems to do everything really well. There is nothing in this phone that I can find to criticize and it actually feels worth the hefty price tag; no buyer's remorse here. It should be noted that this phone is actually CHEAPER than the iPhone 4 despite having a significantly higher specification in every regard.
If you are almost totally technically illiterate and in the market for a smartphone then the iPhone may still be a better option, but then again you probably wouldn't be reading this review if you fall into that category. So for everyone else this is almost certainly a better buy. Apple would have to do something truly 'magical' with iOS 5 to make me go back to it now...
on 1 February 2012
I came from an HTC Desire which suffered from a lack of storage for applications and a poor camera but was otherwise a fantastic phone. At the time of writing my choices were between the Galaxy S2, the Motorola Droid Razr and one of the HTC Sensation models.
The decisions came down to:
# S2: Nice big screen, best camera quality, lighter than the Sensation. No LED for notifications (I realised this post-purchase)
# Sensation: Inferior camera to the S2, slightly heavier and thicker, but sturdy and with removable battery.
# Razr: No way to remove battery, looks top-heavy (phones should be neutral or bottom heavy, or they slip out of your hand more easily). This got dismissed early on due to the non-replaceable battery and the fact that I'd tried the other two handsets out.
So I went for the S2 on the basis that it was light and thin and had a better camera. I couldn't see that the S2 lacked anything compared to the Sensation at the time (but found out about the lack of notification LED very quickly). I did buy a gel-case because the S2 is so thin and light that I feared for its safety if (know thyself; when) I dropped it. It still looks great and feels much safer in its rubbery jacket.
Hardware: The S2 is amazing. It is so light and the screen is lovely, the camera is great quality for a phone and pretty quick to respond. The screen is even visible (just about) in the glare of a sunny ski slope. It picks up wifi and data networks really fast compared to my Desire. The GPS turns on and off intelligently and seems to use much less power than the Desire. I was able to GPS-track whole days of snowboarding with battery life left, which I found really surprising. Having the screen on for a while does drain the battery, but you'd expect that - its big and bright after all. It can get warm-ish if you're playing a game or skyping (works surprisingly well too) and the CPU is running at full power, but no more so than other similar handsets, definitely nothing alarming - even with the gel-case, which ought to prevent heat dissipation. Overall, its super-rapid and responsive - exactly how you'd want it to be. I'm never waiting for it (unless I'm waiting for data) and that's great.
The Samsung interface is a matter of taste, in the same way that HTC Sense is. I dislike both, they add nothing for me. But ADW Launcher and Launcher Pro are both are a vast improvement and can be tried or used at no cost, so there's no reason to avoid a brand because of the way the vendor has skinned Android. The S2 DOES come with Swype though - a keyboard replacement app which is pure genius. But again, that can be had for free.
The cons: No notification LED. For me that's a surprisingly big deal. I can't look across the room and see I got a text or email while I was away or pull the phone out of my pocket for a quick look because I didn't hear the SMS noise. That's perhaps not a big deal, but I use MS Exchange for email. That means I need to use a PIN to unlock the handset. Inputting that can get tiresome. On the Desire I was able to set a longer PIN timeout for when I turned off the screen myself or if it turned itself off. On the S2 you must input the PIN immediately if you turn the screen off. If you then realise "Whoops, I forgot to check blah....", its a pain and you end up entering a PIN multiple times per day, needlessly. If Samsung let you set two timeouts, it wouldn't be a big deal at all, but its a real source of frustration for me.
Another con in is the lack of the hardware "search" button (there's menu, home and back - you don't see 'menu' and 'back' in most of the pics because they're touch sensitive and only illuminate while the screen is on). This means that you do more scrolling in the browser instead of stabbing a shortcut button to get back to the search/address box. Progress apparently... :
The charger: HTC makes a great charger. You can pull the USB lead out of the mains-plug and use it independently. Genius. The Samsung charger doesn't let you do that. So you take a USB lead and a charger when you travel with the S2 ...nuts.
Finally, the earphones - they're appalling. They fall out, they sound dreadful and there's no skip or back buttons on the cable. They have rubber ear plugs, so the sound of the cable rubbing against your clothes is transmitted into your ears. That's louder than the sound from the 'phones and then they fall out, again. Did I mention they're the most miserable earphones in the world? They are. Ugh.
Overall, the S2 is lovely. If it had that notification LED I might even say it was perfect (not so for the boxed extras though!). It's as big as you'd want a phone in your pocket but lovely and thin. It's super speedy with bags of storage. It looks very sleek and minimalist too. If I knew what I knew now though, I'd probably go for the Sensation which is currently nearly 30% cheaper (Jan 2012). The notification LED is something I benefit from several times an hour; the improved camera is great, but day to day convenience would swing it to the HTC for me. Still, many people won't have the MS Exchange security PIN issue that I do and it IS a lovely handset.
I've been using feature/smartphones for around 10 years and every few years I come across a phone that you know is a classic. The S2 is one of those. I upgraded from an HTC Desire HD -- and it's quite an upgrade.
The phone has a plastic chassis, and this has been criticised as being "cheap" but, in fact, it's a feature since it makes the phone very, very light. That's more important than it sounds. My Desire HD was a lot heavier and, after a long period of use, it got tiring. This thing is feather light. It's also tough. Check out the "drop test" on Youtube, which compares the S2 with the iPhone 4S when dropped onto concrete from various heights. The S2 is relatively unscathed while the iPhone is smashed.
Feature-wise the S2 has just about everything. The dual core processor compensates for Android's inherent lag and makes it feel like an iPhone. The screen is just fantastic. In fact, it's so good you can use it as a lie detector -- because if anyone tells you that it's just "OK", they're lying. It's stunning. My wife has an iPhone 4S and side by side the S2 makes that phone look washed out and lifeless.
The phone also has a good camera, certainly the best on any phone that I have used, and definitely comparable to a low-end dedicated camera (minus the optical zoom). The HD video recording, in particular, is good.
The only weak point is the battery. It's miles better than the Desire HD but it still struggles to last a full day. This is, in part, due to the fact that you will not stop playing with the phone but, still, a slightly bigger battery would have been nice (you can get a higher capacity battery for £8 on Amazon).
The S2 is destined to be a classic smartphone. It's been out for over six months now and it's still the best phone available by some distance.
on 14 January 2012
Well i have been a Iphone user for a long time now and i was eventually convinced to give the Samsung S2 a go. now im not technically minded so i wont be adding details like that here but all i can say is swap to this phone.
The phone itself is really lightweight (as it looks long and possibly heavy but much lighter than iphone)Its very thin and sleek and its a complete full colour screen. I was worried the phone would be hard to navigate around but its really not - very similiar to an iphone in its usage and navigtion - click to open - that simple. THe android market is great and if you know what you are looking for its very easy to search and there are many thousands of apps to choice from. What i love most is the live wallpapers that you have on your screen - ive currently got a aquarium - you tpouch the screen and it ripples like you are touching real water. amazing. THe camera is 8mp and you wont ever really need to use a proper digital camera again. Fantastic quality. You also have the option to use as a video camera. THe sim card is easy to place in the phone (no micro sim required here). I love the features such as being able to place your FB pics on your contacts phone id so when they call you there picture comes up. There are lots of things you can add - notifications for pretty much everything though i choice to turn them off as the bleeping annoys me. It tells you what applications are running so u can swtch them off to save your battery as you go. There are 2 homescreens - one where u place apps that you will use all the time and then a screen where u can place apps you wont really be using which tidys up your main screen. THe phone is easy to turn on and off and it boots up very quickly after being off. atching videos etc from youtube is a pleasure as the screen is so big and clear. and you can use this as a ereader. I like the fact that you can change the font size on this phone to suit your eyes. THe one thing i hate about this phone is the predictive texting - when i type in "and" i get "abduction" come up - how bizarre!!
Fab phone - i highly reccomend it!
on 20 December 2011
ok I've had my s2 for about 11 days now.
I wont bang on about the good, read any review - its all good, I'll try to simply to point out the odd annoyance & set your expectation.
it really is good - no I mean really, comparing it to my existing 1ghz/512 'droid phone it's like a rocket fuelled 'roid beast. comparing it to my 1ghz/256 'droid tablet, it's like the tablet has crashed.
the phone itself is very light & despite the big screen isn't too large in the hand, the back cover (if removed) feels woefully flimsy, but the phone as a whole feels robust & strong - a little like holding pre-preg carbon fibre (a little..)
the screen is gorgeous, still that slightly green tinge to the whites (I've never had a iphone, so I can't compare to the retina display), but none of the sea sick colours of the original s1 - playing hot pursuit the intro graphics are very sharp, avi/mkv plays with no hitch & a sharpness that means you wont mind viewing a movie on a 4.3" screen.
Samsung have put their own interface over gingerbread, but imho haven't ruined anything & it still feels pretty intuitive if (like me) you're coming from a vanilla froyo experience - one big annoyance is that it doesn't sort your apps alphabetically... I would be heavily slating this, but you may not be an organisation freak like I am & there's an app on the market that fixes it so I'll be kind about it
call quality is on par with my existing mobiles, although the s2 seems to display less 'bars' on the signal graph than my other phones & again although user perceived speed is the same (on both phones) on hspa/3g, when I 'test my bb speed.com' I got 150kbps or so more from my old phone than I do on the s2 (all tested with same sim / @ same location separated by a few minutes to swap sims between phones)
it's very annoying that Samsung haven't found a way to make a led illuminate upon missing a call/sms/vm etc - not a show stopper (& I'm sure some clever chap/girl could explain the framework of 2.3.4 & why this doesn't work) but kinda something that would be nice outta the box (windows mobile 6.1 had this ;)
another shameful exclusion in my opinion is no micro sd card in the box, ok so you get a nice 16gb of internal storage & most of us discard the 8gb (guessing?) card that ships with most devices for a 16/32, but still it is a £400 phone... be nice to have something
speaking of micro sd, something that annoys me greatly in principle but seldom in operation (ie I never do it) is the INability to hot swap the microSD (yet still there is the sd unmount menu option taunting you...) - this is very annoying if you do swap sd cards a lot as you'll be turning the phone off & removing the battery & waiting for a media scan every time you swap cards... I would go as far to say as if you are a card swapper, then this may not be the phone for you.....
on the whole though, I'm mightily impressed & very happy - things like this tend to live or die by the purchase price, well all new phones start of costing this much, any phone will depreciate, but at least now the money buys an awful lot of hardware & an impressive amount of features & software & file compatibility
PS, if you pay amazon for next day delivery & it doesn't arrive, do complain - they will refund the delivery charge!
on 23 August 2011
The phone itself is awesome. Words can't explain. It is much better than an iPhone and a light years ahead of Blackberry except when it comes to emails. Emails on a blackberry seem integrated with your online accounts so if you send a message from your email online, it comes up on your blackberry and vice versa. Not so with Samsung and emails are not instantaneous. Apart from that, the phone will blow you away. Excellent product. Powerful. Fast. Crisp.
Build quality is a bit on the cheap side. I guess that helps to keep the weight, size and cost down. It is very light but it does feel plasticky (because it is). The battery compartment is thin and rather flimsy. Everytime you open it, you run the risk of breaking it so my advice is minimise the amount of times you have to do so. The mechanism is crude.
Amazon.co.uk does not sell the item with the free 8GB microSD card that you're supposed to get with it (according to gsmarena). They say this is due to the supply they get from the manufacturer so if you're looking for it, like I was, you weren't duped.
I really do love this phone. It should have a love child with Blackberry and then the world would be a better place. Wars would end.... no more world hunger... global warming ceases and we will all live in perfect harmony. Namaste!
on 31 October 2011
The other reviewers have covered how truly awesome the Samsung Galaxy S2 (SGS2) is, and I can only agree with them. What a stunning piece of communications technology! This would be a 5 star "perfect" product in my view if it weren't for a serious manufacturing problem that has been covered up by Samsung and left many SGS2 owners extremely frustrated.
After my experience with the SGS2 (which I still own and love) I need to pass on what I have learned, so this review is intended for people who are experiencing the Dreaded SGS2 Echo Problem, or for those who are concerned that they might have the problem if they buy one of these phones... yep, it's a roulette wheel... there's always the chance you'll get a duff phone.
THE ECHO PROBLEM
The "echo" problem affects a number of SGS2 phones, and can manifest itself if the phone is used with a protective cover or case. This fault has affected a number of SGS2 users, and driven many to madness. Just Google search "galaxy s2 echo problem" and you'll see what I'm talking about. Unfortunately, if your phone is affected then you're one of the unlucky ones because, as I found out, it is a hardware fault with the phone!
I bought my SGS2 a few weeks ago, and started looking into which protective case to get. One or two cases sounded ideal for my needs, but I was concerned about some reported "echo" issues, in which the person on the other end of the call hears their own voice echoed back to them quite loudly, making a conversation difficult. So I looked at reviews for other SGS2 cases from other manufacturers and I found similar reports. Then I found lots of reports on forums of people getting this problem with various cases. Confused and concerned, I decided to order one of the cheap cases made from TPU that you'll find everywhere for a few quid, and my plan was to use this while I decided on which high-quality case to buy.
When the cheap temporary case arrived I popped it on the phone and my first caller, without prompting, complained about their own voice being echoed back to them. To say that I was gutted is an understatement. I had spent all that money on the phone and committed myself to a two year contract with my mobile provider, but I had a phone that I either had to leave unprotected in order to make calls, or put a case on and have my called party complain about voice echo all the time. The naked SGS2 is a slim and slippery phone, and dropping it on to concrete or tarmac would do some serious damage - I wanted to use a protective case!
After a bit more experimentation, I found what others had found: that the echo disappeared if I (a) switched off noise reduction every time a call was established, or (b) just used the speakerphone feature, or (c) removed the case from the phone. Updating the phone's firmware to the latest version made no difference at all.
To cut a long story short, I eventually called Samsung UK. Their response was shockingly dismissive, and you could tell they had been pre-programmed to completely deny that this issue existed. They told me that unless I was using the official Samsung case then they couldn't help me. As you may know, the official Samsung case is a thin piece of mesh plastic that clips to the back of the phone and offers virtually no protection at all. It is interesting to note that Samsung were going to sell an official heavy duty case similar to the Case-Mate or Otterbox, but then withdrew it from sale. Google search "samsung galaxy s2 d30 dual shell case"... this is now shown on just a couple of websites, and marked as "discontinued". I believe it was withdrawn because it highlighted a widespread problem with their own product, the SGS2.
I eventually took my SGS2 back to my mobile provider, and demonstrated the problem. Luckily they offered to exchange it, and I was amazed to find that the echo problem disappeared completely! I tried my cheap TPU case - no echo. I bit the bullet and ordered a more expensive dual skin tough case - it arrived, I fitted it... still no echo! :-) The problem had been isolated to the phone itself... a hardware fault. There was nothing wrong with any of the protective cases at all. I later found reports of other users also narrowing down the problem to the phone hardware itself: a husband and wife both bought an SGS2, and one had the echo problem while the other didn't. There were also stories of a part in the phone being replaced by the Samsung repair service and the echo problem being cured.
This fault has been known on forums since May or June of 2011, and I bought my SGS2 in October... after all this time, the echo problem is still very much alive. I'm stunned that Samsung have done nothing about it in 5 months. They could have tweaked the firmware on the phone so that the in-call 'noise reduction' feature could be disabled in the settings options, which would enable the user of an affected phone to mask the echo problem and use a protective case... but then I suppose a firmware tweak would have been an admission of guilt from Samsung.
I've got no idea how widespread this problem is, but searching the internet reveals user after user reporting this issue and asking how it can be fixed.
CONCLUSION AND ADVICE
If your SGS2 is affected by the echo problem, then ANY protective case that you put on your phone will cause the other party in the call to hear their own voice a fraction of a second after they speak, making a conversation a complete nightmare. Some cases might make the echo louder than others, but if your phone is affected then any case will cause you grief.
My advice to those who are about to buy an SGS2 is to go for it!! Seriously, it's a miracle of technology, a beautiful smartphone. BUT if you want to protect your expensive phone with a case then make sure you buy a cheap TPU case at the same time you buy your phone. Put the case on the phone, make a few test calls - your called party will know immediately if the echo issue exists. If they get echo then I would immediately return the phone for a replacement or refund. Bear in mind that there's always the chance that the replacement might also have the echo problem!
I love this phone, but would like to see a consumer watchdog take up this issue with Samsung. Otherwise they will get away with another manufacturing error cover-up, just like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 "oil slick" issue. Don't get me wrong, it's not just Samsung who have tried to brush off responsibility for manufacturing errors. We live in an age where products are superceded every few months, products are rushed out and product testing is left to the consumers.