Editor's Note: This is a review of the international version of this smartphone. Brighthand also has a reiew of the T-Mobile version, as well as Sprint's, which has been renamed the Samsung Epic 4G Touch, and AT&T's, which is dubbed the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket.
It was the biggest hit of the MWC held in Barcelona this past February, but the Samsung Galaxy S II will probably be best remembered as one of the most attractive smartphones launched in 2011.
It is going to be the successor of the Galaxy S -- the best-selling Android OS smartphone with over 10 million units delivered across the world -- and feature a more elegant design, a bigger screen with new imaging technology and a newer version of the operating system and user interface.
The Samsung Galaxy S II will come with Android OS 2.3 Gingerbread and TouchWiz UI 4.0, and will improve on its predecessor hardware-wise, sporting a dual core 1GHz ARM Cortex A9 processor with Samsung's Orion chipset, an 8-megapixel camera, 1 GB of RAM, and come with either 16 or 32GB of internal storage. This is also one of the first smartphones to support NFC technology (Near Field Communication), which will make it possibly the most powerful device in the 4.3-inch phone class.
BUILD & DESIGN
Despite all of its advanced features, last year's Galaxy S looked a lot like the iPhone 3G. The only difference was that it was entirely made out of plastic; one of its greatest shortcomings. Now, just like the iPhone 4, Galaxy S II has developed sharper edges. It is still entirely crafted out of plastic, but seems more convincing this time with solid housing and a modern design.
Its elegant line is evident at first touch, feels light when held, and sounds incredible. Despite the fact that the Galaxy S II has a 0.3 inches larger display than its predecessor, it is significantly slimmer and a few grams lighter. It is 2 millimeters higher and wider with the dimensions being 125 x 66 x 8.5 mm.
Its slim profile is very impressive, and when combined with a large display that takes up nearly the whole front surface of the phone, you get a highly modern and futuristic look. The secret of such a great design is in the Super AMOLED 'Plus' technology, given that it enables the production of significantly thinner screens compared to the Super AMOLED ones, which the "old" Galaxy uses.
The biggest problem with standard AMOLED displays is their drastic loss of contrast when exposed to direct sunlight, making those phones a bad choice for those who spend a lot of time outdoors. This problem was slightly tackled with Super AMOLED technology; however, devices like the original Galaxy S that used it, were still not easy to use in direct sunlight.
Samsung's Galaxy S II comes with the Super AMOLED Plus screen, and progress has been made once again -- the contrast is still lost in sunlight, but not to the extent that using the phone is difficult. Indoors, the Super AMOLED Plus looks very impressive, especially on a lush 4.3-inch diagonal.
The screen resolution is the same as with the previous model, 480 x 800 pixels, which means that the pixel density is somewhat lesser now, however, this is not noticeable in practice. Screen imaging is exceptionally sharp and light, with very vivid colors. This is surely the best screen we have had the opportunity of using on a screen size of this size.
The phone comes with a user interface that has an entirely black background (depicting a galaxy, in accordance with the phone's name), and it serves the screen imaging well. This allows the bright colors of the icons, widgets and other screen elements to contrast well.
We also have praise for the display's touch sensitivity. It was quite a pleasure to hold such a light smartphone with a large display that reacted so quickly and precisely to even the lightest touch. The two capacitive keys below the display were also very accurate and responsive. Overall, apart from the screen on the iPhone4, this is surely the best smartphone display.
Other Buttons and Controls
The Galaxy S II has only one physical key on its front surface that is situated under the display, along with two capacitive keys, also located under the screen, seated on both the left and right sides. These are intended for activating the menu and as a 'back' button.
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