T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II First Impressions

Aaron Baker
Writer from  Dallas, TX
| Published: October 13, 2011

T-Mobile Galaxy S II 1

It's the last one to the party, but as in life, sometimes the best things come later.  Announced at Samsung's August press event but kept under glass (plastiglass?) due to some processor changes, T-Mobile's Samsung Galaxy S II is now available at retail stores and online for $229.99 with a two-year agreement.  Like its brethren, it's a feature-packed phone, but it gets some stiff competition from the also-recently-announced HTC Amaze 4G.  Can T-Mobile's version of the popular Sammy handset hold its own in the carrier's fantastic Android lineup?

I've had a few days to test T-Mobile's Galaxy S II while in San Diego for CTIA, and I think it can.  My thoughts thus far:

  • The phone ships in the usual T-Mobile box, and includes an AC adapter, USB cable, and a reasonably nice pair of earbuds that I'm using as I type this.
  • Galaxy S II breaks from the mold with a 1.5 GHz dual-core Snapdragon S3 instead of Samsung's dual-core Exynos processor.  I've praised Samsung's chip as being one of the best in the industry, and despite the clock speed bump from 1.2 to 1.5 GHz in T-Mobile's version, there's a choppiness that's not on the other two.  Most consumers won't notice, but those familiar with the Exynos' performance will find it to be ever-so-slightly choppy when it comes to transitions and system-heavy tasks.  Interestingly enough, Quadrant Standard scores range from 3,200 to 3,600 - right on par with the other two devices.

T-Mobile Galaxy S II 2

  • T-Mobile's version joins Sprint's Epic 4G Touch in offering a supersized 4.52-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, and it's equally gorgeous.  Colors are nice and bright, and the added screen real estate is great when browsing the web and watching movies.
  • Like the other units, T-Mobile's Galaxy S II packs Android 2.3 with Samsung's TouchWiz 4.0 user interface.  As I've said before, TouchWiz 4.0 is a substantial upgrade from the past version, and brings Samsung up to par with HTC and Motorola.  The dock is less obtrusive, widgets are more useful and customizable, and the colorful (but tacky) boxes behind the apps are no more.  The software, combined with the processor, make for an incredibly fast experience.
  • Galaxy S II packs an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p HD recording capabilities, and both do a nice job.  Camera images looked good, and the 1080p recording was impressive with little to no background noise.

T-Mobile Galaxy S II 3

  • T-Mobile's version ships with an 1,850 mAh battery, which is the largest amongst the three US variants.  With moderate use including calling, text messaging, surfing the web, taking a few pictures, and downloading apps, I was able to squeeze about 12 hours of juice out of the device before it powered down.  Given that my mobile use increases during trade shows and other work-related trips, I consider that to be more than acceptable for an Android device with a 4.52-inch display.

The Galaxy S II series is one of the best Android options on the market, and while T-Mobile's version has some minor speed hiccups from time to time, it's still an excellent handset that I'd recommend to anyone seeking a high-end device.

More to come, but in the meantime, check out the unboxing!

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