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Samsung Galaxy S 2 Reviewed

written by: Robert Faustus•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 2/24/2011

2010 was an amazing year for Samsung, mainly due to the release of the Galaxy S. At the 2011 Mobile World Congress the next in the series was unveiled to the world, the Galaxy S 2. Does this smartphone have what it takes to be the successor to the throne?

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    The Samsung Galaxy S 2 is the highly anticipated successor to the Samsung Galaxy throne. Samsung had previously been known as a pretty good manufacturer, but not the top contender. However, in 2010, the Korean competitor launched the Galaxy S, which dominated the industry, globally. The Samsung Galaxy S was a huge success in Europe, Japan, its home country South Korea, and of course, the highly competitive U.S. market. In the U.S. the Galaxy S line up was split into 4 distinct handsets for the four major carriers, the Samsung Vibrant, Fascinate, Captivate and Epic 4G. In addition to the smartphone line up, they released the 7 inch tablet, the Galaxy Tab.

    At the 2011 Mobile World Congress, Samsung officially announced a successor to the flagship Samsung Galaxy S, the Samsung Galaxy S 2. Featuring some impressive specs, the Samsung Galaxy S 2 definitely seems to be a worthy successor to one of the most popular smartphones of 2010.

    Samsung Galaxy S 2 Specifications:

    • Dimensions: 4.93 x 2.60 x 0.33 inches (125.3 x 66.1 x 8.49 mm)
    • Weight: 4.09 oz (116 g)
    • Display: 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus capacitive touchscreen display, 480 x 800 pixels
    • Memory: 16 GB + 32 GB MicroSD
    • OS: Android OS 2.3 with TouchWiz 4.0
    • Processor: 1.2 GHz Dual core Qualcomm 8260 SnapDragon
    • Camera: 8 Megapixel and 2 megapixel front facing camera
    • Connectivity: GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900 / UMTS 850, 900, 1900, 2100
    • Data: EDGE
    • Bluetooth: Bluetooth 3.0, Stereo Bluetooth
    • GPS: GPS with A-GPS

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    Design and Display

    Rating Average

    Samsung Galaxy S 2 Review The Samsung Galaxy S 2 has the now familiar candy bar design, with the 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus capacitive touchscreen dominating the front. Below the display are the Android shortcuts for menu, and back, and in between a black button for home. Coming in at 8.49 mm, the Galaxy S 2 is also officially the slimmest smartphone ever. To the right of the screen is the power / lock button, down below is the microUSB, to the left is the volume rocker and up top is the 3.5 mm headphone jack. Very much reminiscent of the original Galaxy S. Above the display is a small 2 megapixel front facing camera, and rounding out the other side is a beautiful textured back and 8 megapixel camera with LED flash.

    The 4.3 inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen is amazingly vibrant and colorful, and it also has a very large viewing angle. The screen could be viewed at almost any angle, except 90 degrees of course. The Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen really makes the Galaxy S 2 stand out above the original Galaxy S and looks stunning. Samsung did an absolutely amazing job with the Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen and managed to keep the Galaxy S 2 surprisingly thin.

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    The Samsung Galaxy S 2 features an incredibly powerful dual core processor and comes preloaded with Android 2.3. The Samsung Galaxy S 2 will also be the reveal of TouchWiz 4.0, Samsung's third party proprietary overlay for Android. This user experience enhancement may be polarizing as many Android users prefer stock Android rather than an overlay. In addition, TouchWiz may delay the Samsung Galaxy S 2 from receiving future Android updates, similar to its predecessor. Regardless, the seamless and smooth user interface on the Samsung Galaxy S 2 is easy to use, learn and master for people of all ages.
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    Hardware and Software

    Rating Average

    The Samsung Galaxy S 2 comes with a blazingly fast dual core Qualcomm 8260 SnapDragon clocking in at 1.2 GHz each. In addition, the Galaxy S 2 offers 16 gigabytes of internal storage as well as a microSD slot to add on up to 32 gigabytes of additional storage. Once again, very much similar to its predecessor.

    On the software side of the house, the Galaxy S 2 comes preloaded with Android 2.3 and their third party proprietary overlay, TouchWiz. For the Samsung Galaxy S 2, Samsung has released TouchWiz 4.0, a version up from 3.0, which was installed on the original Galaxy S. It's great news to hear that the Galaxy S 2 will come with Android 2.3, as other newly announced smartphones such as the Motorola Atrix 4G are coming loaded with Android 2.2. The only main concern is that the Samsung Galaxy S 2 will stop at Android 2.3.

    The U.S. market Galaxy S smartphones such as the Captivate have waited longer than usual to be upgraded to Android 2.2, and in some cases, such as the Epic 4G, customers are still waiting for an update. With Samsung's track record in getting updates out, the Samsung Galaxy S 2 may very well be dead in the water when it comes to updates.

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    User Interface

    Rating Average

    The Samsung Galaxy S 2 is very user intuitive, thanks to the fact that it is a Samsung Galaxy S 2 - The Slimmest Smartphone touchscreen interface. Users familiar with Android will notice that the Samsung Galaxy S 2 has a very familiar interface, with just slight differences due to Samsung's third party proprietary overlay TouchWiz. TouchWiz 4.0 is the latest version of TouchWiz that will come with the Samsung Galaxy S 2. Similar to the other versions of TouchWiz, version 4.0 is to add more to the user experience.

    Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S 2 is easy to pick up and learn for new users and for old users, just a slight difference from previous versions, but nothing too different to cause confusion. The powerful dual core processor makes the user experience seamless and very smooth. Adding to that smoothness, TouchWiz 4.0 does give the Samsung Galaxy S 2 a bit more of a futuristic vibe with the way home screens are displayed, as well as the updated applications menu that no longer has a black background but rather the wallpaper background.

    The only bad part regarding TouchWiz 4.0 is the fact that it will most likely prevent future updates to the Samsung Galaxy S 2. While smartphones such as the Nexus S or Nexus One that use stock Android receive the latest Android updates quick, handsets such as the Galaxy S 2 that have third party overlays always lag behind for updates. Samsung, as mentioned before, do not have the best track record of getting out the latest and greatest version of Android.

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    The Samsung Galaxy S 2 comes with two cameras, an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash on the back, capable of recording in HD, up to 1080p. In front is a 2 megapixel front facing camera for usage with video chatting. That's an incredible leap from the usual VGA front facing cameras that many other smartphones are coming with. The Samsung Galaxy S 2 also comes preloaded with Android 2.3, which gives it access to the Android Market and to thousands and thousands more applications. Overall, the elegant and classy design, coupled with the incredible specs make the Samsung Galaxy S 2 a force to be reckoned with for 2011.
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    Rating Average

    The Samsung Galaxy S 2 is an extremely powerful smartphone and Samsung has done a fantastic job arming it with even more powerful features. The first "feature" is the fact that it is preloaded with Android 2.3, giving it a big advantage over the next batch of smartphones such as the HTC Thunderbolt that's coming out with Android 2.2. Due to it running Android, the Galaxy S 2 has access to thousands upon thousands of applications in the Android Market.

    While running the latest version of Android may not be a true feature, the 8 megapixel camera definitely is a feature. The 8 megapixel camera that comes with the Galaxy S 2 is also capable of video recording up to 1080p. It looks like the Motorola Droid Bionic will have some heavy competition in the 8 megapixel camera arena. If the 8 megapixel camera wasn't enough, there's a second, front facing camera that's 2 megapixels. Currently that is the highest megapixel count on a front facing camera on an Android powered handset. It's extremely useful for video chatting, and will most likely mean that the Samsung Galaxy S 2 will be 4G compatible.

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    The Final Verdict

    Rating Average

    Samsung Galaxy S 2 Review The original Samsung Galaxy S truly put Samsung on the map for Android powered smartphones. They continued their slow push with newer releases such as the Samsung Continuum and the soon to be released Samsung Infuse 4G, all Galaxy branded smartphones. The Galaxy S 2, however, is the true successor to the title and will most likely help push Samsung's name even higher in the smartphone market.

    The Galaxy S 2 easily ranks in as an 'Excellent' smartphone. The slim and light design, the beautiful Super AMOLED plus screen, and the amazing specs such as the dual core processor and 8 megapixel camera easily make the Galaxy S 2 stand out. The only bad part about the Samsung Galaxy S 2 isn't the phone but the company.

    Samsung is cranking out Galaxy branded smartphones left, right and center leading many have to wonder if they're spreading themselves too thin. They may end up having to cannibalize their own sales rather than taking on their competitors such as Motorola or HTC. They have to be very careful in the way they release the Galaxy S 2 in the U.S. market. If they end up splitting into 4 different versions like the original, customers may end up not even knowing what the Galaxy S 2 really is.

    For instance, customers will end up staring at the Samsung Galaxy S 4G, otherwise known as the Vibrant 4G, the Samsung Infuse 4G, or even the recently announced LTE Samsung smartphone for Verizon alongside the Galaxy S 2 and not truly know what the differences are. By putting too many similar smartphones with the same branding, Samsung may be hurting themselves in the long run.

    Beyond Samsung's decisions, the phone itself, the Samsung Galaxy S 2 is a great addition to the highly competitive smartphone market and will most likely be a huge hit like its predecessor.

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    • Source: Author's experience
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