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The Galaxy S II comes preloaded with the latest version of Android which is 2.3.3 at the time of writing this review. Google has made a lot of optimizations to Android and coupled that with the insanely fast hardware on the Galaxy SII, everything just flies. Scrolling through lists of contacts or messages is butter smooth while opening apps is almost instant. For applications, you already have a wealth of them available in Google Market however, Samsung also has their own mini-market called “Samsung Apps” loaded on the device.
Speaking of applications, Samsung bundles a few of their own apps with the Galaxy S II- most notable amongst which are hubs. You have a Social hub, a Music hub, a Reader’s hub and finally a Game hub. Basically hubs are aggregates, so the social hub gives you a feed of your Facebook and Twitter accounts while the Reader’s Hub integrates with Zinio for magazines, kobo for books and newspapers from around the world. The Music hub doesn’t work in the region so I couldn’t test that out but the Game hub has a list of Samsung recommended games for download- free and paid. Other than these hubs, you also have a photo and video editors, a Mini Diary which works with your GPS to take pictures and store your travels and AllShare, a DLNA based media server that we will take a deeper look at in our upcoming Samsung SmartTV review.
Samsung adds their custom UI on top of Android called TouchWiz which is updated to v4.0 on the Galaxy S II. Although the new version operates very much like the older versions, Samsung has added little touches here and there that make TouchWiz a better experience. For example, all the icons are new and look much better while widgets now have transparent backgrounds. The following video take you through the new TouchWiz interface along with a quick look at the hardware.
As you can see, the UI is extremely responsive and works well. Sadly, Arabic wasn’t supported on my review device but I’m pretty sure that it will by the time it hits retail. TouchWiz doesn’t really impress me much and I prefer stock Android over almost any custom UI. That being said, I know people that like TouchWiz and if not, considering this is Android, you can always switch to another launcher from Android market.
Coming to the camera, the Galaxy S II has a pretty good 8MP camera on the back with an LED flash which the original Galaxy S sadly lacked. Videos shot from the device are pretty impressive as well and support 1080p at 30fps. The following shot is of the butterflies in Dubai mall and as you can see, it looks pretty impressive.
Under less-stellar light conditions, the image quality is not as sharp still pretty impressive. The picture below, again from Dubai Mall shows the divers in lower light.
Wrapping things up, Samsung equips the Galaxy S II with a fairly large capacity 1650mAh battery- a wise move considering the big size of the screen and the dual core CPU. I usually use the device for about a week and post real world results for battery which is not scientific, but gives you a general idea on what you can expect if you are a power user. The Galaxy S II always lasted me more than a day on a single charge which is pretty impressive. In fact, I could pretty much get away with a day and a half without having to worry about the battery. Most Android phones I’ve used of late give up by the end of the day.
Overall, Samsung delivers on the Galaxy S II which is no small feet considering the popularity of the original. It is an incredibly fast phone with a gorgeous screen, excellent features and a good build quality. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that it is the best Android-based Smartphone that you can buy today.