One thing the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II knows how to do well is speed, no matter what task you’re performing. I mentioned in my first impressions article that it seemed to read my mind at times, knowing exactly what I wanted to do before I actually did it. That’s an exaggeration of course, but not a big one.
According to the Quadrant benchmark test, the Galaxy S II scored an impressive 3129, blowing all of the comparison devices on the scale right out of the water. That dual-core 1.5 GHz processor is definitely up to the task of powering the performance of this phone.
This is a 4G phone capable of blazing fast speed if 4G service is available in your area. In my speed testing I got results from 13.1 Mbps to 14.1 Mbps download, 991 kbps to 1708 kbps upload, and 56 ms to 80 ms ping. App downloads and web browsing were generally super fast, though I did experience more slowdown than usual around my office. T-Mobile doesn’t seem to be as strong in coverage around my office as AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon, so that wasn’t too surprising to me.
Call quality however, even in relatively low coverage areas, is simply outstanding. Voices sound real, not clipped, even when there’s a lot of background noise for the phone to filter out. Emergency vehicle sirens could be heard clearly only when they were within a couple of blocks, and then only barely. I was able to hear and understand everyone I talked to very well.
Social networking activities are handled by the Social Hub app included on the phone, or you can download standalone apps from the Android Market. Once you log in to all o your accounts such as GMail, Windows Live Hotmail, and Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync plus Facebook, Twitter, everything is integrated into one easy-to-use hub so that you can stay up-to-date with all of your friends and family.
The email and web browsing experiences were both very good, thanks in large part to that blazing 4G speed. Scrolling is smooth, not frustrating, in the web browser, and all of the standard features like pinch-to-zoom worked well. Text is extremely sharp and photos are rendered quickly, making for a very pleasing overall web experience.
The PIM apps such as Calendar and Contacts are all Android standard and provide a rich overall experience, though there is one extra simply entitled Utility which is a handy folder that includes a calculator, memo pad, mini Diary, task list, videos, voice command, and a voice recorder. It’s a nice way to keep all of those separate apps from cluttering up the application launcher screen, but that’s about it.
Polaris Office is included for all of your Microsoft Office document needs, and I’ve come to prefer it to the other apps like Quickoffice that are typically included with current smartphones. It can handle all of your local files and also provides a direct link to the box.net online file storage service.
Navigational duties are handled by the standard Google Maps app, which can provide walking, driving, and public transit directions and local points of interest. I was slightly disappointed with the performance of Google Maps on this particular device, because it took much longer to determine my position than I am used to. I’m not sure if there was a problem with the GPS on the loaner unit I received, but that’s what I suspect because the performance wasn’t quite up to par.
There are several preloaded entertainment options on this phone which is nice if you like a good out-of-the box experience and don’t want to waste a lot of time chasing down your own entertainment options in the Android Market. There are some heavy hitters here like Netflix, Slacker Radio, and Google Books right alongside the standard music app and the carrier-specific T-Mobile TV.
There aren’t any included games or game demos, which is slightly disappointing. But if you already have some favorites like Angry Birds or Jewels you’ll find that they look good and play well. I especially appreciate the good sound quality and volume on the external speaker; which made playing games without plugging in my ear buds sound very nice indeed.
The?8 megapixel camera takes really nice shots, even when you’re using the zoom feature. They aren’t as good as what you can get from a DSLR, but I’m still pretty impressed with the sort of photos this phone camera is able to capture. It certainly holds its own for everyday picture-taking opportunities and will serve you well for anything but a once-in-a-lifetime event like a wedding. For casual events like dinner with friends, theme park outings with the kids, etc. it’s likely all you need.
I used the phone quite heavily for more than a week and never came close to running out of juice on the 1850 mAh battery before the end of the day, so I’m quite pleased. My longest stretch without a charge was four days, though that was in the middle of the review period when I was just using the device primarily as a phone, with some email and texting rather than when I was extensively using the camera, playing games, downloading apps, and generally torture testing everything I can think of.
You should be able to get through a weekend trip without feeling like you have to carry along your charger, which is plenty good enough, especially if you tend to charge your phone while you sleep.