Samsung Galaxy S II First Impressions

Aaron Baker
member from Dallas, TX
Published: May 17, 2011

After weeks of waiting, FedEx knocked on my door yesterday with my Samsung Galaxy S II.  Announced at Mobile World Congress in February, Galaxy S II might just be the most anticipated Android phone in history.  It's available in Europe, with reports of it coming to the States in the summer.

I've had 24 hours to tinker with it, so I present some first impressions of the device:

  • You'll notice that the Galaxy S II closely resembles the Infuse 4G in regards to design (or vice-versa, since GSII is older?), though the GSII is a bit narrower due to the smaller display.  It's 8.49mm thick, so you'll have no problem fitting it into a pocket
  • The Galaxy S II is powered by a 1.2 GHz dual-core Exynos CPU, and performance has been incredible so far.  Remember how fast I said the T-Mobile G2x was?  The Galaxy S II is faster, and that's with a manufacturer-installed overlay.  Quadrant Standard scores range between 3,100 and 3,500, and what's more, the speed is present all throughout the device.

  • Complete with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), Galaxy S II is the first device to run Samsung's TouchWiz 4.0.  It's a huge, ground-up improvement over version 3.0; transitions have been refined, and the overall experience shows that Samsung is doing all they can to make TouchWiz a formidable competitor to HTC's Sense UI and Motorola's MOTOBLUR.  4.0 simply looks more "put together" than the past version.
  • The improved performance is noticeable throughout the device; for example, when adding widgets to the homescreen, you're greeted with a new, easy-to-use menu.  Like HTC Sense, TouchWiz 4.0 also makes headway in making Android seem less "ugly."   I find that a lot of the shortcomings I've pointed out on 3.0 have been addressed in 4.0, namely issues dealing with customization.  Take the messaging app, for example.  I've always hoped that Samsung would incorporate themes into the equation so users could choose how they wanted the text bubbles to look.  Not only can you change the themes in 4.0, but you can change fonts, text size, and more.

  • The 8-megapixel camera offers an array of editing options and is capable of shooting 1080p HD video.  Image quality has been impressive thus far, and video quality was equally good.  Check out the 1080p video sample here.
  • The Galaxy S II is a quad-band GSM/UMTS (850/900/1900/2100) device.  You'll be able to take advantage of 3G/4G connectivity if you're on AT&T, but T-Mobile users are relegated to EDGE connectivity.  Since it's an unlocked, unbranded phone, you get those little perks like the ability to tell when the device is on AT&T's 3G or 4G ("H+") network.  Very interesting to watch, to say the least.
  • Battery life seems to be decent thus far.  It's not going to break records, but those that use the phone moderately throughout the day should be able to make it.  With calling, text messaging, downloading apps, checking email, and browsing the web, I'm at 58 percent after 10 hours off of the charger. 

The Galaxy S II is an excellent addition to Samsung's existing handset lineup, and is the "must have" phone for those that want a flawless Android experience.  The hardware specifications are fantastic and Android 2.3 combined with TouchWiz 4.0 provide a great user experience.  Problem is the price - since it's not available from a US carrier, you'll have to buy it at full retail from a specialty website like eXpansys USA.  Considering that it's priced between $749.99 and $799.99, most US customers will pass for a good carrier-subsidized alternative like the T-Mobile G2x.  But for those that can afford it, the Galaxy S II blows every other Android phone out of the water.  For now.

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