The Galaxy S II Review: Part II

Sorry this post is long overdue. Apologies for those who have been waiting rather impatiently.

Read part one of the review(hardware) here. I forgot to mention a couple of things: The phone screen is of gorilla glass technology, very damage-resistant. I don’t mean you go take a needle and test it out, but within the confines of what I will term ‘normal’ usage. A friend was telling me how she dropped her Ideos in water (cold, not boiling, though I have no idea what temperature has got to do with it) and it still works! Only the buttons work though, the screen display is okay but it is now touch-resistant. A whole new dimension to the expression you can look but you cannot touch.

A second thing I forgot to mention is the delicate-looking nature of the device is deceiving. Because it is light, if it falls it does not shatter to pieces! I deliberately dropped it on rough concrete this afternoon and it came away with a few scratches! It has also fallen many times, mostly from the couch/bed to the floor. I don’t mean you get a hammer to see how resistant it is!

Software Review

Onwards then.. To the Software Review of the Phone. It runs on Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread, which can be upgraded to 2.3.4, but even with 2.3.3 I have no complaints so far. The hardware specifications, operating system and apps/functionalities combine to make Calypso(name of phone) the best phone on earth currently.

General Look and Feel, Responsiveness

Assisted by the beautiful screen, anything rendered on this phone looks amazing. The pixel density may not be the highest in the market, but you can’t tell from the quality of the display. It supports multi-touch (pinch to zoom in/out), and when you pinch the current screen you get a view of all the 7 available screens where you can put your apps.

The Screens.. currently populated with numerous apps!

Tilting to Zoom

The phone is gravity sensitive. If a call comes in, you can turn it over to mute it. If you are playing music and you turn over the phone, sound goes off. Apps can rotate left or right. Not upside down though!

Another cool thing is when you want to zoom pics/browser, you can tilt the phone down to enlarge or up to down to decrease size.

Touchwiz 4.0

Basically this is a customized way of providing touch-features on the phone. When someone calls you, you can choose to accept, or reject with a text message. This is so cool, as it brings a host of useful messages that you can immediately send.

The text messages you can use when rejecting a call

When you have a contact number, you can swipe left to create a message to them, or right to create a call.

The Samsung keyboard on the S II is terrific; considering the size of the screen, and the accuracy of the touch-screen, you can type really fast on it. I have found that I prefer to type in portrait rather than landscape, it’s a fairly wide (but very slim) phone and it strains my thumbs to type in landscape.

Notifications, Shortcut Bar

The notifications (missed calls, messages, updates, incoming emails etcc) come to the top bar and you can pull it down to view them.

The notifications bar and you can see the shortcuts up there.

In addition, there is a shortcut bar at the top for switching on/off wifi, bluetooth, GPS, Sound, Auto rotation. When you press the power button, you get fast options for switching on/off sound, data network, flight mode or power.

To capture a screenshot, you press power and home button simultaneously. No need to scout the Android market for an app!

Rotating Map

This is the only phone as far as I know, where you can get a hold of the map and turn it in any direction you want! I don’t mean auto-rotation when you tilt your screen, I mean literally just holding and turning the map in any direction! This can help you make sense of the directions especially where you find yourself walking towards your left yet your map is pointing right. It uses Google maps, which I dare are the most detailed for Kenya.

The map of Africa upside down..

Hubs

There is a music hub, where you can download music; a social hub (which is not very useful) and a reader’s hub, which is simply awesome.

Looks like a real bookshelf.. almost!

It comes with a PressDisplay for reading digital editions of newspapers (the Daily Nation and EA Standard are available, though you only get like 7 free copies). You read the paper just as it is in print!

There is Kobo for reading books; oh it’s a pleasure. I have been reading Pride and Prejudice (I realized I never finished the book during my first attempt), and when you swip to go to the next page, it flips the page as if you were reading a real book. Don’t be tempted to lick your finger so you can easily flip to the next page as you do with a hard copy book! You can also highlight paragraphs, add notes… and refer to these later.

Zinio is for reading mags. Same as the PressReader but now for digital magazines… most are not free though!

AllShare

With the Allshare, when a number of Samsung devices are connected on a common wi-fi, you can browse their media content! Like you would on a local area network, where you can browse the public files of another computer. I admit some of these features are better shown than told!

Kies air

This is for transferring files to/from the phone to the computer. All you need is to just plug and play! You can see the phone’s internal memory and memory card.

Voice Search/Voice Command/ Voice Talk

Voice search is fairly common to all Android devices. Same as voice command. However, it’s never that accurate and it takes time to process (processing is over the internet). The only thing it can do accurately so far is when I tell it to ‘Play Music’. Immediately it goes to the last played song and continues from there!

Conclusion

The Galaxy S II. Image from engadget.com.
This phone is the BEST Android phone in the market, that is a fact. However it will not suit anyone, we all have our different needs. Some might think it uncomfortably thin, others might find the screen a bit too wide, or the price (Kshs. 60K+) out of range.

I also cannot do justice to its software features, they are better shown than told, trust me. So the next time you see me, ask to be shown.

With time if (actually when) I discover new cool stuff, I shall let you know. Currently, I am enjoying playing Racing Moto.. a game of high quality graphics, no lag in response (what with a 1.2GHz dual core processor), speed and adrenalin, I have to beat the high score on Calypso. I’m out.

P.S. I recommend this review on engadget again.

P.P.S. There are hunderds of thousands of apps in the Android market. Currently I have no less than 30 that I do use from time to time.. Be careful of malware though, see who the publishers is and the reviews before downloading an app.

P.P.P.S (last one I promise!). iPhone 5 is set for release on Oct 4th. I read it here

  • http://greatrnk.wordpress.com The Greatrnk

    Either it is the best phone in the World or Samsung have paid you a lot of money to advertise this great phone of theirs. Either way, it is a great phone, me thinks.

    • Anonymous

      It is the best phone on earth right now… in a few months probably another will be released that compares with it. You don’t have to think, meet me and I will show you the features. Samsung have not paid me any money to advertise, I wish they did :) They let me keep the phone though after reviewing it.

  • Anonymous

    Having handled the phone on various occasions [ http://mwirigi.posterous.com/samsung-galaxy-s-ii-launch ] I must say, its a good phone

    • Anonymous

      Certainly top of the range..

  • http://martingicheru.com @martingicheru

    Tried using music hub? Doesnt work for this region. Otherwise, what you are saying is true, this THE DEVICE!

    • Anonymous

      Haven’t tried the music hub.. there are no free songs for download? Will check it out today.

    • Anonymous

      Haven’t tried the music hub.. there are no free songs for download? Will check it out today.

  • http://www.gsmsavvy.com/ GSM SAVVY

    It’s a good phone for hardcore gaming, plays almost anything thrown at it. I just love this smartphone!

    • savvykenya

      With its dual-core 1.2GHz processor and 1GB RAm, yeah, hard cored gaming is possible on the S II!