The Samsung Galaxy S II Review: Part 1

Part I of the Review: Physical Specifications

Okay this phone is awesome and I’ve decided to split the review into two parts: hardware specifications/software capabilities so that we don’t end up with pages and pages of review! I have tried giving it kingly names it but the only name that sticks is Calypso. So let’s review Calypso.

When it comes to mobile phones, the Samsung Galaxy S II hardware specifications beats any phone alive today; and that is including the iPhone 5 that is still under conception. When is the due date, I wonder?

Size and Weight

The Galaxy S2 facing down. Sweet looking Calypso.. image from my libraries.

This phone is super light, at only 116g. It feels featherweight in my hands. Coupled with the fact that it’s ultra-slim; at only 8.5mm it’s the slimmest phone on earth, beating the iPhone 5 (leaked specs) by .1mm and the Xperia Arc by .2mm and making the iPhone 4 look like a fat housewife at 9.3mm.

At first I though it was kind of big to be put into a pocket (125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm), but even when wearing my most fitting jeans, it slides smoothly into the pocket. I guess the slimness helps!

Screen Size and Display

It has a 4.3 inch Super-AMOLED screen. This is a big screen by any standards, and watching/reading anything on it makes it a wonderful experience.

A view of a screen shot taken showing all the seven available screens.. and a view of the app icons on each so you can easily navigate to the screen you want.

Super-AMOLED screens consume less power (presumably than the retina display of iPhones), and you can imagine a screen like that would drain a lot of power. Coupled with a resolution of 480 x 800 pixels and supporting up to 16M colours, things look better on the phone than they look in real life!!

Watching movies and videos is a pleasure; so is viewing pictures. In fact, even if the picture looks bad and the video has a low resolution, it still looks good on the S2. Especially if it’s a movie that’s pirated; you know how bad it looks on the comp but now since one is viewing it on a smaller screen it ends up looking HD. (P.S. I watched Rango on it.)

Battery Life

The iPhone 4’s standby talk time is 300 hours. The Galaxy S2’s standby time is 710 hours! The battery life is a significant improvement over its predecessor, the Galaxy S. I have realized that using data over a 3G network consumes a lot of power. With the S2, I think you can comfortably watch up to 3 movies of approximately 1.5hrs each. I mean I watched Rango (1.5hrs) and there was hardly any change in the battery level.

With my regular use (I’m never without my phone for longer than 2 minutes), the phone is able to last almost 24 hours. I think though, that higher series Nokia phones still win on battery life.

Battery facts:

Stand-by Up to 710 h (2G) / Up to 610 h (3G)
Talk time Up to 18 h 20 min (2G) / Up to 8 h 40 min (3G)

Processor Speed and Memory

It has a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and 1GB RAM. Theoretically, it’s capable of running the Windows 7 OS! I must admit though, that I am hardly using all this capacity! Unless I open like 30 apps running at the same time, or download a lot of stuff while playing HD videos, I don’t know when I can utilize 100% of the power availble for this phone!

There is absolutely no lag when it’s switching on, readying contacts, launching apps, phone/message/contacts search, loading videos, music.. As Idd Salim said on his blog while reviewing the Galaxy Mini, a low-budget Android phone: The new Samsung phones ni kama madem wa Campo. Una-touch, inafungua. Una-touch, inafungua. No delays

It has internal memory of 32GB or 16GB to store your music/pics/videos/documents.

There is a memory slot that can support up to 32GB of data. Awesome! Currently I’m underutilizing it with a 2GB mem card.. any takers? My birthday is coming up soon :-)

Camera and Video; Music Player

The rear camera is 8 Megapixels with flash; which can be auto or manual. The pictures it takes are crystal clear and beautiful. There is also a front camera with 2MP meaning you can have video calls/Skype.

A waterfall at the Tribe Hotel where I attended some event recently.. looks good, doesn't it?

The camera has autofocus and zoom. However, autofocus is not available on video mode unless you upgrade the OS.

The music player is.. average!! I mean it’s alright, but it could be better. You can never hear the bass and if you increase the volume, it’s like all you get is the high pitch and not an increase in quality. The earphones help though. They are the kind that you can insert deep into your ear canal, making the music penetrate any ear wax in the way of the audio waves :-)

The S2 earphones..

Other physical features:

Micro-USB slot, 3.5mm audio jack, just the usual standards. The loud speaker is not really loud; but it’s good enough.

The phone has no other buttons except the middle button, but the area beside the button is touch-sensitive and on the left is the menu-function and the right, the back function. These function-buttons come alive when the phone is active.

The Galaxy S2. Image from androidzoom.com

P.S.

Here is the phone’s full specifications on GMSArena.

Here is a comprehensive review: very detailed on engadget.com

P.P.S.

Software review coming soon.

P.P.P.S.

I like the name Calypso.

  • http://twitter.com/MurayaKamau Muraya Kamau

    Correction…there are a few phones mostly HTCs that beat this phone hands down. Check out the HTC sensation 4G the sensation II

    • Savvy Kenya

      The Galaxy S 2 still wins geekaphone.com/compare/HTC-Sensation-4G-vs-Samsung-Galaxy-S-II

      Doesn’t come close!!!

      • Dr Donyango

        wow! and i was considering a htc #secondthoughts

    • Anonymous

      Let me do a mini-comparison here (physical xstics):

      Size and Weight:

      HTC 4G Sensation

      126.1 x 65.4 x 11.3 mm
      148 g

      S2
      125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm
      116g

      Verdict: the S2 is much lighter and 2.8mm thinner!

      Screen Size
      At 4.3 inches, their size is the same. The resolution on the HTC is higher but the S2 is super-AMOLED, makes it sooo beautiful.

      Verdict: 50-50. Until I use the HTC and know how good that screen is.

      Processor and Memory
      They both have dual-core 1.2GHz processor.

      The HTC has 786 RAM, the S2 1GB
      The HTC has 1GB internal memory, the S2 32GB!!!!!

      Winner: the S2

      Batter

      HTC Sensation

      Stand-by Up to 400 h (2G) / Up to 350 h (3G)
      Talk time Up to 6 h 40 min (2G) / Up to 8 h 20 min (3G)

      S2

      Stand-by Up to 710 h (2G) / Up to 610 h (3G)
      Talk time Up to 18 h 20 min (2G) / Up to 8 h 40 min (3G)

      Winner: S2.

      Fact: there is no HTC that can rival the specs of the Galaxy S2. The SE Xperia Arc comes close but not enough for a fair comparison. The best in the market I tell ya!

  • Dr Donyango

    waiting for part two before going to break the bank….it is so damn enticing!!!

  • Samora

    Your birthday isnt coming up any time soon!!! nway take good care of Calypso and for kingly names how bout Hercules!

    • Anonymous

      Hercules.. no, I’ll stick with Calypso. So you promise to buy me a 32GB mem card?

  • peter evans

    when it comes to tech, no one better than you, n i have beef with your phone, nione kando i tell you why

    • Anonymous

      What could you possibly have against this phone?

  • http://twitter.com/Stengosia Steven Ngosia

    Hey this phone is quit on point given the fact that it has super amoled screen and a deadly processor. Lets see what the future has to offer with regard to competition (Nokia N9, Xperia Arc S, Iphone 5 etc) and the galaxy variants… i am personally an Sony Ericsson and android fun. I could do galaxy s2 anytime only that this phone is quit a looker but just like any other Samsung, feels so plastic-ish… I like to have a feel of a smart gadget that performs like one than a slab that shocks everyone with its power….I bet I phone 5 might just be have issues with this phone…. http://tech101kenya.blogspot.com/2011/09/report-samsung-counting-minutes-until.html
    I hope is as good as you say.
    Cheers.

    • Anonymous

      The competition is yet to launch.. so currently this remains the best phone on offer. True, the disadvantage of the phone is the plastic casing that gives it a rather cheap air :-)

      This phone is definitely a performer, ask anyone who owns the predecessor, the galaxy S. The S II offers a major improvement on an already wonderful experience.

      Actually, Apple has already sued Samsung over infringement of copyright; this will be an interesting drama, I can’t wait for the iPhone 5 release!

  • Baarb

    You mentioned iPhone 5 then I lost it. You can’t pit a Galaxy S2 against an unreleased phone. There is no such thing as leaked specs for the iPhone especially with regard to width

    • Anonymous

      In which world do you live in? It is possible for phone manufacturers to release specs of phones that are not yet out!

      Secondly, those so called ‘leaked’ specs are sometimes orchestrated by the manufacturers themselves! A number of iPhone 5’s given to Apple employees for testing have conveniently been ‘lost’. That is how the world gets the specs.. and I can’t wait to be proven right.

      • baarb

        I live in the POST PC world. Apple ever since it closed the Mac Expo has never and I repeat never released specs of upcoming gadgets. Secrecy is Apple’s trump card

        Apple employees and high level developers have been testing the iPhone 4S

        • Anonymous

          But the iPhone 5 is set for release in October.. which is a few days away. Let’s wait and see.. maybe I will be proved right about the leaked specs, maybe not.

          • Baaaarbiturate

            Yep. We’ll wait and see

          • Barbiturate

            Seems I was right. And the iPhone 4S is thinner than the SII

          • Savvy Kenya

            You are right there was no iPhone 5. But you are wrong, the iPhone 4S is the exact same size as iPhone 4. Still 9.3mm, so the S2 remains thinner, lighter and with a better screen. The iPhone 4S finally caught up with the S2 in terms of RAM (1GB), internal memory, and processor speed. They also improved both front and back cameras so that it matches the S2’s 8Mp and 2Mp cameras. The S2 still wins. The iPhone 4S is a major disappointment since most people already had superior, iPhone 5 mythical expectations.

          • barbiturite

            I disagree :
            • The S2 is not thinner than the iPhone. A phone’s thinness is judged by its thickest point. The s2’s thickest point is larger than the iPhone’s thickest point. Consequently, the iPhone is still thinner than the s2. Read more about that here
            • The S2 screen is larger. However, larger is not better. The galaxy S has a 316 ppi while the iPhone has a 326 ppi. You’ll also come to notice that the size of a screen is a personal preference. And not necessarily a reason to judge a phone by. Remember how people used to lambast Apple for lack of a hardware keyboard when the original iPhone debuted?
            • Do not judge phones in different ecosystems by their hardware specs. Read my explanation here
            • Begrudgingly, I say the phones are evenly matched. It boils down about personal preferences. If you want an Android with 4G and a large screen go for an S2. If you want an industrial work of art that snuggly fits into your hand and runs iOS. Go for the iPhone 4s

          • Sizewana
          • Anonymous

            Okay you win :) Apple iPhone 4S is fantastic. I prefer my Droid though.

            http://t.co/1YD51Gbl

          • barrb

            Disregard the first reply. Links don’t work
            I disagree :
            • The S2 is not thinner than the iPhone. A phone’s thinness is judged by its thickest point. The s2’s thickest point is larger than the iPhone’s thickest point. Consequently, the iPhone is still thinner than the s2. Read more about that here(http://www.freakgeeks.com/2011/15246/uk-advertising-authority-iphone-is-the-thinner-smartphone-samsung-please-shutup/)

            • The S2 screen is larger. However, larger is not better. The galaxy S has a 316 ppi while the iPhone has a 326 ppi. You’ll also come to notice that the size of a screen is a personal preference. And not necessarily a reason to judge a phone by. Remember how people used to lambast Apple for lack of a hardware keyboard when the original iPhone debuted?
            • Do not judge phones in different ecosystems by their hardware specs. Read my explanation (http://pastebin.com/3Dn7aNrG)
            • Begrudgingly, I say the phones are evenly matched. It boils down about personal preferences. If you want an Android with 4G and a large screen go for an S2. If you want an industrial work of art that snuggly fits into your hand and runs iOS. Go for the iPhone 4s

  • Anonymous

    Hi Savvy, you can shoot a 3 minute video and submit it to a mobile video contest on http://www.productionrepublic.co.ke. Am sure the SII resolution would give you a good chance of winning the sh.50k prize :-)

    • Anonymous

      Thanks, I will hopefully shoot a video before the deadline!

  • http://twitter.com/irofrank Frank Iro

    Galaxy S2 HD Anyone? Makes this baby look old! You can’t really compare android and iOS. In terms of hardware, the iphone 4S has two major advantages: A faster GPU and improved optics. To me who owns an DSLR, the latter means little. But the former though definitely goes a long way in improving the user experience. But would I trade that in for a 4inch+ SuperAMOLED plus and the freedom of android?…. don’t think so.

    • Anonymous

      Hey, the 4inch SuperAMOLED screen and freedom of Android comes with a faster processor and fast everything… in terms of performance really, the only thing the iPhone 4S was CATCH up with the S II, without surpassing it. Total disappointment.

  • http://usb3gvn.com USB 3G

    Thanks, I will hopefully shoot a video before the deadline!

    • Anonymous

      Hopefully!

  • Nicolette

    I absolutely love this review! I’m looking forward to buying (this) a smartphone and was doing my research in the hope that I’d find positive reviews that would ‘justify’ the expenditure (let’s face it, it isn’t the cheapest phone out there) and this review has done just that. Based on (the above), I’d say you’ve sold me on the idea that the Gallaxy 2 is indeed value for money. I love the description of the Super-AMOLED (thanks for the Wiki link, did not know what AMOLED stands for) screen. A bit disappointed with the audio review as I’m a music fanatic but I guess it will have to do. All in all, this pone is beautiful. Pricing?

    • savvykenya

      Right now, it costs about Kshs. 54,000. It’s an awesome phone. Make sure you get a protective case for it from Samsung shops.

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