Samsung Galaxy S II Review

By on June 6, 2011
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Samsung delivers the best Android based Smartphone.

Good: Super fast, Gorgeous screen, Incredibly thin, Good battery life
Bad: No notification LED, TouchWiz still lacks the integration found in SenseUI
Price: AED 2,599
* The price is the Suggested Retail Price at the time of review. Please call a retailer to confirm the latest price for this product.

Debuting with the Galaxy S last summer, the Galaxy series of Android based Smartphones has done wonders for Samsung- making them one of the top Android-based devices manufacturer. When I reviewed the Galaxy S, my verdict was “Rough around the edges but has the potential to become the best Android Smartphone.” Last week, almost a year after we received the original, the Galaxy S II landed in our offices. Lets find out if the rough edges have been smoothened.

Packaged in the now-familiar black box used by Samsung for their higher-end devices, the Galaxy S II comes with you usual assortment of a charger and a headset. I received the 16GB however a 32GB version is also planned. Expect the device to be available before the end of June. I don’t have an official price from Samsung just yet but if I was to guess, I would say that it would be just shy of AED 3,000.

The Galaxy S II is an incredibly thin phone which should not come as a surprise as the original was pretty thin at 9.9mm for it’s time. Samsung managed to shave over a millimeter on the S II which is now freakishly thin at 8.5mm making it even thinner than the iPhone 4 that stands at 9.3mm. Like the original Galaxy S, there is a bump in thickness towards the bottom of the phone to accommodate a USB connector and the loud speaker. The overall size on the Galaxy S II has also increased a bit- the original measured 122.4 x 64.2mm whereas the new one has dimensions of 125.3 x 66.1. Don’t let the size scare you though- the Galaxy S II weighs just 116g making it one of the lightest Super-phones.

One of my biggest complains with the original Galaxy S was the not so impressive build quality and thankfully, Samsung has fixed that up really well. The Galaxy S II feels a lot more solid in your hand with no creaking parts. The back cover has a textured mesh finish which looks and feels pretty awesome. My only complain, which could be a non-issue, is that I can see a tad bit of space between the frame of the device and the full glass front- possibly enough for dust to accumulate over time.

The new Super AMOLED Plus 4.3” screen is the center of attention on the Galaxy S II and is possibly the finest I’ve seen on a Smartphone. The black levels are incredible and colors look like they will pop out of the screen- watching videos on the Galaxy S II is better than any other Smartphone. What is even more impressive about the display is that it is still extremely readable in the bright UAE sun- an area where most other Smartphones show their weaknesses. I do wish that Samsung had increased the solution on the screen though- 800×480 seems a bit low on a 4.3” screen.

Below the screen, the Galaxy S II has three buttons like the original. The square click button on the center takes you home while the two backlit touch buttons on either side of the home button are for back and menu. Other than that, you have a volume rocker on the left, a power button on the right and a 3.5mm audio connector on top. On the back, you have an 8MP camera and thankfully Samsung has added an LED flash this time around. The front has another camera at 2MP which should be good enough for any video-calls.

Like the original Galaxy S, a dedicated search key is missing on the Galaxy S II- a trend we are starting to see on some other phones as well such as the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.That doesn’t bother me much as you generally have something onscreen to help you search. What I do miss is a notification LED that is present on many other Android based handsets but is lacking on the Galaxy S II- like the original.

Coming to the specs, Samsung certainly had a reputation to live up to because the original Galaxy S was the best Android based handset when it was launched as far as specs were concerned. And they deliver with the Exynos 4210 SoC which features a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor and the Mali-400MP GPU along with 1GB of RAM. Storage comes in capacities of 16GB and 32GB while a microSD slot is also present if you want to further increase the capacity on your Galaxy S II. On the radio side, you have 802.11 a/b/g/n support as well as Bluetooth 3.0 with high speed profile that makes transfers over Bluetooth much faster if the paired device also features Bluetooth 3.0. For data access, HSPA+ is supported to get the best out of your operator while the built-in FM tuner will keep you entertained for hours.

The following table shows you the performance of the Galaxy S II against some of the newer phones running SunSpider Javascript benchmark. We have yet to receive a Tegra 2 based smartphones which is why you don’t see one in the table below.

Smartphone (OS Version) SunSpider JavaScript Test (Lower is better)
Samsung Galaxy S II (Android 2.3.3) 3416
Google Nexus One (Android 2.2) 5632
HTC Desire S (Android 2.3.3) 5840
Apple iPhone 4 (iOS 4.2) 10263

As you can see, the Samsung Galaxy S II is incredibly fast- finishing off the Sun Spider Javascript test in under 3500ms whereas Google’s Nexus One and HTC’s Desire S took over 5600ms to complete.

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Abbas Jaffar Ali is the founder of and a blogger, geek and self-declared tech pundit who can't stop talking about technology. Find him on twitter as @ajaffarali

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  • DD

    Is this available in-store? It wasnt on the weekend when I asked at the stores..

  • Harmeet Gouri

    i just spoke to samsung people, they have said “it will come out on the 26th week” which means this month. However, it is available in bur dubai without warranty which i will never suggest as this phone is too delicate to have without warranty. 

  • Harmeet Gouri

    i just spoke to samsung people, they have said “it will come out on the 26th week” which means this month. However, it is available in bur dubai without warranty which i will never suggest as this phone is too delicate to have without warranty. 

  • George Jacob

    i got one, and it is just amazing. last week i bought a back cover from seoul and it is perfect. samsung spend millions$ in R&D to make it thinner by one single mm and we spend 20$ to make it 2mm thicker with a back cover!!

  • Bruce G’ves

    as IF it has no notification backlight
    are u SURE?
    i have the galaxy s i9000 which also has ‘no’ backlight and its simply a matter of getting the right patch to install BLN notifications and then u do have it
    if u mean it has no notifcation BLN out of the box then sure but its possible to install it

  • Duane

    Most Galaxy S devices have a dedicated search be holding the menu touch-key. You might want to try this with the Galaxy SII. I do not see why Samsung would remove this feature.

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  • DD

    Anybody have an indication as to the cost of the S2 in AED?

  • Nilesh Karani

    Think the HTC sensation would be a better choice b’cos of the better build quality

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  • JackoJack

    I got mine from 10 days ago, price was 2949, it’s cheaper now I think around 2600 aed, maybe it will be even cheaper in another 10 days h

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