Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S II - A Galaxy Not Too Far Away

I was lucky enough to get a crack at the Galaxy S II at Samsung’s recent Forum 2011 event in Delhi where a heap of new “Smart” products made the scene. The Galaxy S II, of course, was the center of attention and I have to say, it’s going to be huge. Since it’s not due to hit the shelves officially till May, here’s a quick hands on experience I can share about Samsung’s ‘biggest’ phone yet.

Build
Unlike the HTC Desire HD, that’s also a rather large device or the Sony Ericsson Arc that’s much better looking than the both, the Galaxy S II comes off as a simple and plain looking handset. As far as the looks are concerned, it’s not one I’d call a stunner, but I soon changed my mind when the 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display came to life. The visual experience that the S II is capable of dishing out is by far a winner in my book, so far. It’s extremely vibrant and can very easily give the Sony Mobile Bravia engine a run for its money, although I’m not too sure about Retina Display, just yet.

Visible differernce in the upgrade

Visible differernce in the upgrade

 

What came as a pleasant surprise was the fact that the S II, considering the specs it boasts of and how large it actually is, is an extremely light device. In fact it’s lighter than its predecessor the Galaxy S and thinner – 116g (S II), 119g (S). I do wish they had refurbished the design a little to include a slightly funkier shell but at least this way it does have a slightly more professional styling.

Slimmer and lighter than predecessor

Slimmer and lighter than predecessor

 

Features
UI
Thanks to a dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 processor with an Orion chipset and running Android Gingerbread (out of the box), the Galaxy S II is a visibly faster than most of the devices out there save the iPhone 4. However, if Apple has to be worried, this just might be the handset they should be worried about. Since the Galaxy S I9000 was on hand, I got a chance to check out just how fast the processing speeds were and I have to say, the S II is quite impressive.

 

Gingerbread goodness

Gingerbread goodness

 

What I’m particularly happy about is the new look and feel of Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz UI 4.0. It’s a much livelier UI than the previous version and has quite a few funky tricks up its proverbial sleeve. Loading Widgets onto the desktops is, so far, a more enriching functional experience as compared to, dare I say it, HTC’s Sense UI. Samsung has also incorporated a new gyro friendly method of navigating the menus – Press and hold an icon on the screen and simply tilt the handset to the left or right for scrolling. The large screen also facilitates Swyping in a slightly more comfortable setting.

Media
I was unfortunate enough to have been unable to test a full HD video file (DivX and XviD supported) on the S II; I would have loved to see how it handled that media form. I did, however, get an opportunity to pop in a set of headphones to check out the audio and without any enhancements (EQ Presets available, didn’t see any sign of SRS enhancement on these demo devices though) the quality seemed more than satisfactory. For the avid FM radio aficionado, you’ll be good to go as well.
Connectivity
It is, of course, a 3G enabled device with all the corresponding support available (EDGE/GPRS). Wi-Fi is on board with DLNA support for products that also support the function and media sharing is easily made available via Samsung’s All Share feature. There’s plenty of Social Networking thrown in, as well as quite a bit more with new Samsung Hubs in the mix – Social, Reader (for access to eBooks etc.), Music and Game (with access to quite a few HD ready games). The browser supports Adobe Flash 10.2, so the experience should be just as good as any other high end handset and as close to desktop like browsing as possible.

Hubs for all occassions

Hubs for all occassions

 

Although, we already know that GPS is a built-in function with A-GPS provisioned for, I wasn’t able to get a straight answer on what service would be preloaded, or if there would be one in the first place. We’ll find out later, I’m hoping. Let’s just hope that with the kind of money that the price tag on the S II will feature, a free-for-life GPS app will be supplied. 

There’s no sperate HDMI output for the S II and that could be one area where LG’s Optimus 2X could give this handset a run for its money. However, the MHL (Mobile Hi-Def Link) will support USB/video out in HD. Both are equipped with DLNA support  though, but I fear with HDMI as well, the S II’s overall worth, money-wise, would go even higher.

Camera
I was also able to quickly test the camera and although I don’t really have any live images I can display, I can tell you that quality seemed quite remarkable. With full HD video recording i.e. 1080p@30fps, things are looking up for the mobile phone camera buffs. The 8MP autofocus camera will feature face and smile detection, Geotagging and also comes with an LED flash amongst a plethora of other features. It also features image stabilization.

 

Full HD video, sweet!

Full HD video, sweet!

 

Conclusion
Now while I’m currently of the opinion that this is a seriously hardcore handset, the unannounced and vague pricing, mid 30’s, that were given has me a little concerned. LG’s Optimus 2X, which has almost the same features (with a few minor differences here and there) is priced in the Rs. 30,000 vicinity. It looks like the S II is directly trying to compete with the iPhone 4 in this case. But with handsets like the HTC Incredible S and Sony Ericsson’s Arc and yes, the 2X as well already on the market, the big question arises – Should you wait for the upcoming iPhone 4 or go ‘Green Robot’ and opt for the S II? I can’t help you with that answer right now, but rest assured, when both make it here in an official capacity, Tech2 will do it’s very best to help you make a sensible choice.

Stay tuned for more updates on the S II and other new handset that are making their way into the Indian sector.

 

In the mean time, if any of your readers already own the S II, or have had an opportunity to test it out for yourselves, why don’t you share your experience with the rest of us. Our Discussion Board awaits.


Published Date: Apr 16, 2011 12:24 pm | Updated Date: Apr 16, 2011 12:24 pm