During the premier of Samsung Galaxy S II, held in Februray, Samsung announced that its dual core processor will offer 70% better performance in relation to the previous model. In reality, it is difficult to assess improvement with such precision when it comes to the speed of this device, but all functions take place exceptionally fast, without glitches or stops that would hinder the user experience.
Web sites are downloaded and rendered swiftly, whether its from a Wi-Fi or 3G connection, and zooming in and scrolling is smooth. Adobe Flash is supported, and even those web sites with several Flash objects do not slow down web site manipulation across the screen. It’s nice that downloading Flash elements can be turned off or set to manual download (so that this part of the web site is downloaded when the element is touched), but this is not a necessity in real life.
HD video playback and viewing photographs, as well as zooming in and editing them, runs smoothly. This is due to the Galaxy S II’s Orion chipset, which includes not just a dual-core processor, but also a quad-core GPU. This performs its job exquisitely when it comes to multimedia tasks and game playing.
Even when several demanding applications were running on multitask mode and when all home screens were filled with active widgets, Galaxy S II did not falter, regarding its performance. Of course, apart from the processor, the credit goes to 1GB of RAM and Google Android OS 2.3 (Gingerbread), the latest version of the Android OS.
Google’s standard user interface was additionally improved with Samsung’s proprietary user interface, TouchWiz 4.0. Compared to the previous version of TouchWiz, which was included with the Galaxy S, many things have been added, with the first changes made visible immediately on the home screen. Users can personalize each of the seven home screens, using active widgets to put content in the forefront. Thus, they can have a home screen containing social network statuses, headlines from familiar news sites, stock exchange reports, Android Market novelties, weather forecasts, etc.
All of these widgets can be lined up similarly to the active hubs on the Windows Phone 7 operating system. This means it is possible to create an organized user interface that is full of information that appears as soon as the phone is turned on.
The similarity to the Windows Phone 7 is that the TouchWiz 4.0 includes four hubs which unify all the phone’s functions regarding socialization (the Social hub), music (the Music hub), reading (the Readers hub) and gaming (the Games hub).
The Social hub lets you log in to several popular social networks and follow everything that goes on in a joint timeline. This way, Facebook statuses can be followed in real time along with tweets, and it is also possible to “mix them up” with emails, text messages and MMS messages. This is also featured on the Windows Phone 7 and the TimeSpace UI, which Sony Ericsson uses on its smartphones containing the Android OS.
The Music hub is a detailed interface for purchasing, listening to and archiving music.
The Readers hub is for reading and purchasing electronic books, magazines and newspapers. Interestingly enough, Samsung has chosen the Zinio reader for electronic magazines, which is ambitious for a smartphone.
And finally, the Games hub enables easier and faster access to attractive free and premium gaming titles at the Android Market.
Another nice feature that TouchWiz 4.0 offers is voice recognition. After double pressing the main key, it is possible to activate the voice recognition interface. Among other things, writing text messages using your voice is possible, even elementary translating with the Google Voice Translation feature. It is not easy getting used to this functionality given that some words need to be carefully pronounced, followed by pausing and careful articulation, but those who need voice recognition will soon master this technology.
This smartphone’s 8-megapixel back-facing camera is also one of the aces up Samsung’s sleeve, setting the bar high for the competition. In daylight, photos are above average with very realistically interpreted colors, and they have precise exposure. Indoors and at night, picture quality is not comparable to the one provided by digital cameras, but when the resolution is manually reduced, it increases the “per-pixel” quality, and solid photographs can be made.
The Full HD resolution (1080p @ 30 fps) video recording function deserves a bigger plus. Even indoor recordings seem sharp and have precisely interpreted colors, with no blurry segments and with solidly recorded sound.
A 1650 mAh battery comes with the Galaxy phone. At first, this easily changeable battery will be sufficient for one day of playing with the Galaxy S II, as the users will be still trying out its numerous possibilities. With normal usage though, the battery should last up to two days. This is not a lot, however compared to other smartphone with a 4.3-inch screen, this is average.