Review: Samsung Galaxy S2

Up for review is the Samsung Galaxy S2!! I have been looking forward to getting this phone for sometime and I finally did just a few weeks ago!! First thing we are going to talk about is the specs of this phone and are they sweet!!!!

Now the first things we notice from the spec sheet above is that this phone shouldn’t be possible!! While it doesn’t state what the power of the Processor is!! Luckily we already know, Its a Dual-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A9 proccessor + Mali-400MP GPU, Exynos chipset.  Actually one of the fastest mobile cpu’s/gpu’s on the market today and competes with even the best android tablets!! beating most of them in the process!!Also what makes this phone special is the 4.3″ Super AMOLED LCD display which makes this phone amazing to look at!!

The reason this phone shouldn’t be possible is that not only do they have a Dual-core 1.2GHz processor they also made this phone the slimiest phone on the market with measurements of 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5 mm  But that also didn’t stop them from adding a massive 1650mAh battery to the mix aswell. What’s even more impressive is that its extremely light aswell at 116g!! Which is simply put amazing!!The SGS2 also sports an 8 mega pixel with auto-focus and led flash!! The camera can also record in Full 1080p goodness at 30fps!! There is also a 2MP front facing camera aswell!The connectivity part of this phone is no shy part either, With Built in 3.0 Bluetooth, USB MHL(Supports USB OTG(Host mode), Full 1080p out with HDMI adaptor). WiFi A/B/G/N support and of course 3G with HSDPA, 21 Mbps; HSUPA, 5.76 MbpsOkay, Now while everything looks great on paper, Let’s see how well the Samsung Galaxy S2 preforms!!

Initial Impression!!

When you first have this phone in your hand what goes through your head is simple shock and awe!! How slim and light this phone actually is.. Well its staggering!! It’s just feels impossible, But at the same time feels perfect!!Turning on the phone you are gretting with the same Android setup you would expect!!! You just have to log in with your google account info and it will fill your phone with your typical custom settings you have and contact’s.

AMOLED Screen

The 4.3″ Super Amoled screen is simply incredible to look at, The colours just look amazing and to say it’s the best looking screen on the market is in fact an understatement, The screen is beautiful and the most amazing screen i have ever looked at!! You will be simply blown away about how crystal clear this screen truly is!! It has a WVGA resolution which is 480 x 800!

TouchWiz 4.0

Once that is done, You are brought to the new UI which is called TouchWiz 4.0, While its pretty similar to the original Samsung Galaxy S there are the few bug fix and feedback upgrades you would come to expect and it’s overall performance has also been increased, Making for a much snappier response!! The thing is that because this is Android, The first thing i did was install Go Launcher. The reason being is because i much prefer the simple vertical scrolling of icons and its main icon placements can be replaced and aren’t fixed like on TouchWiz, Not saying TouchWiz is bad because its not, Its just how I am. That’s the great thing about android is that its completely customizable!While I don’t use TouchWiz, I will tell you about it, Its basically gives you a standard homescreen, Where you can put widigts and stuff, On the bottem there is a the four icons, Phone, Contact’s, Messages and Applications, All in that order. Once you click on Applications that is exactly what will pop up!! You simply have to scroll left and right to find more icons!! Its pretty straight forward and works perfectly.

Processor

The speed of this processor is no joke!! IT IS FAST!!! I have tested the processor with AnTuTu Benchmark, Which is my chosen app for benchmarking all android phones!!These results are just amazing, For those who don’t use or know what Benchmarking is, Here is a quick explaination. The application AnTuTu will test the phones ability, All of them infact! As you can see from the results on the right. It runs specific test’s on each part of the phone and gives it an overall score.

The results are infact the best you can get on any android, Even if they are Overclocked, The only android device to beat the my SGS2 is another SGS2(By a fraction i might add)!! The number one device on the ranking system shows an Overclocked Samsung GSG2, Mainly someone that just did the overclock to get the number one result in the world!!

Camera

So the 8 Megapixel camera is now going to be tested, I took a few different shot’s in different scenario’sMake sure to click on the images to get there full size!!!  The above image was taken in a pitch black room!!! The idea behind this test was to see how well object’s turned out using the led flash on the phone. The results are quite impressive and the big looks extremely well.Again, This photo was taken in a completely dark room. The colours are amazing in this and the quality of this camera with it’s flash is brilliant!!This picture is quite impressive, Mainly because i was in a moving car when i took it, Also there are different views here, If you notice the rear view mirror, The focus is excellent on it. The focus was on the car which is also perfect. It was an overcast day but fairly bright out.

Camera(Photos) Conclusion

I must say I’m very impressive with this camera when taking pictures, The quality of all the pictures even in the darks and extremely good quality and would hold up to the best of the current smartphone cameras, Beating most of them in the run. This camera is perfect for all your camera needs so there is no need to have a dedicated camera because this camera can take great pictures for all those important events.

Camera(Videos)

Now we take a look at the quality of the video camera. This phone can record in full HD@30FPS which is no easy feat but the dual core processor also helps in this matter.

The video above was recorded at 1280 x 720. Not Full HD but fantastic quality none the less. There are some heavy signs of blending where object’s appear wavy. This is to be expected as the car was moving pretty fast. As you can see the the camera can handle recording at this quality with ease. The size a the end was 175MB.

Now this video was recorded in standard definition. The reason for that is because it’s the phone’s default setting for the video camera and i wanted to show the complete default settings. The quality isn’t the best but it is far from bad, Infact I’m quite impressed with it’s quality of the camera recording at this resolution.

This last clip is off two videos, They were simply joined together so there is no loss of quality. They were both recorded in full 1080p!!

Camera(Videos) Conclusion

The thing about recording videos these days and the art of judging them is that sometimes a person will look at it and go ” hey that quality is great” then someone else will look at the same video and think the quality isn’t the best. The reason for this is the art of perception. Some people will see low quality video’s and not spot the difference between that and a higher quality. Most of the time it comes down to just how good the quality is. I have shown these videos to a good few people and not a single person can say the quality is bad. The fact is that is simply isn’t!! The phone’s ability to record in full 1080p alone is staggering, Not to mention just how beautiful it looks. Obvisouly the quality doesn’t look as good as dedicated video camera, None the less the quality is incredible.

My idea here is for anyone to just look at the video’s themselves and judge the quality by there own standards. Everyone has a different degree of quality and when it comes to recording video’s. People will want different things. There are many different settings to choose from on this phone from white balance to effects to exposure value’s. You can always amend the settings to get even better quality. The settings i had them on were default except the resolution which was changed in all the videos.

When it comes to the overall conclusion of the video camera portion of this phone. I can with honesty that I have yet to see any other phone that has the quality of recording that this one has. I have searched true countless videos of all other phone’s on the market today and none of them have compared to the colour clarity that this phone produces in all resolutions. But as i said, It comes down to a group of variables that must be considered like what screen a person watches the video one, The codec used to create the video in the first place and the settings chosen. The thing is that all of these things are visible in the end result. I didn’t do any calibration just straight out and recorded the videos. The quality turned out fantastic and not many phones can do that and none that can do it at 1080p resolution. My end result is that if you are someone looking for a phone that records in 1080p and has great results in doing so, Then this is a phone you should be looking at!

Battery Life

Here is where controversy comes into play. The idea of having a gadget like a phone on you all day and using all day to do various task’s that would otherwise drain that battery extremely quickly have been in debate since the begining of smart phones. The main argument being that having a more powerful device simply means less battery power. That is always going to be true, But how much less power is the question

This phone is no different, But please read this whole segment before coming to a conclusion!!

The phone when you original get it comes with a lot of things you will have no use for or won’t want. But you aren’t going to know that until you start using it and go through everything. The problem is apps supplied by Samsung are draining the power by always syncing and other things come into play, For example the small things like what programs run and what they are doing when you aren’t even using the phone, They are draining the battery power

The battery supplied with this phone is a 1650mAh and that isn’t small by any standards.

The problem is that there are some many things packed into this phone that the amount of power can get used up quite quickly and in this case that is what happens. When i first got the phone i could barely get a day out of it and i was wondering why that was. The power efficiency was terrible and the phone would die from little use in less than a day.

After poking around I found that a few apps were always running a syncing and basically draining the battery even when the phone was on stand by. I have no idea why this is happening or why Samsung would design it that way, All i know is that simply going through all the apps with a nice little program called Gemini manager i was able to block the apps i didn’t want running at all. The main ones being all the “Hub apps” that Samsung supply with the phone.

Once i done that and a few other minor adjustments to screen brightness and syncing of email and stuff like that. The battery was incredible!! I use the phone all day from 100% in the morning to 43% in the day. That was with some heavy useage. I was browsing the net for an hour,  On the phone for around 40 minutes altogether, Played nova for about 1.5 hours. Wifi on for about half the time with the other half using 3G. Constantly checking emails. Recording a few videos and listening to music for about 2 hours of the day.

The battery was able to not only keep up with me but still had 43% left!! I’m just blown away but the fact that the few little tweaks that i did. I was able to get so much more out of the phone!! There are many way’s you can improve the battery life on any device, But never have i seen such and increase from changes like these.

Browsing internet

Now see as we are using Android, There isn’t just one browser we can choose from!! In fact there loads!! I tested the phone in the stock broswer but felt it was rather limited so i mainly used dolphin browser hd and opera

Stock browser

The speed of this browser was perfect, I didn’t notice any slow moment’s for pages to load and zooming was perfect. You can use two touch one the screen and then rotate the phone to zoom in and out, It was weird at first but felt quite intuitive after a few minute’s. Everything else about this browser is pretty straight forward and that’s why i’m using a different once, Mainly to get extra feature’s that you just don’t see in the stock browser.

Dolphin Browser

The dolphin browser is well known amongst android users and is considered one of the top browser’s to use. It comes with all the same features as it normally does. It’s speed was impecible on the Samsung galaxy S2 and it performed quite effortlessly.

Opera

Opera is also considered one of the top browsers in the android community and it to also performed amazingly. The browser didn’t have a single issue loading any site that was thrown at it. All the features you come to expect worked perfectly and i must say i enjoyed using this browser the most and times!

Browser choice

When it came down to it, The best browser was too hard to call because both browser’s preformed perfectly. So the only way was to run the acid3 test.

Stock Browser scored 93/100

Dolphin browser Hd scored 93/100

Opera scored 100/100.

It’s a small difference but Opera has the lead and runs perfectly on this phone!! The funny thing is that I used opera browser as my main browser anyway. Mainly because i just licked how it performed and was comfortable with it’s layout. So it normally always comes down to what browser you prefer as they all performed perfectly.

Flash 10.3

As this is an android phone and has Gingerbread 2.3. It also has flash 10.3 support aswell. The thing about flash it that it’s terrible. It use’s way to much processing power to do simple tash and isn’t efficent at all. So when i tried a youtube clip on the desktop version of youtube(all broswer’s support the changing of the user agent info) I was blown away by just how well it played.

Here is where things get a little insane, I decided to change the settings on youtube to 720p, Thinking the phone would explode from too much pressure to perform!! It didnt and played the video perfectly!! So me i’m thinking that wow!! This phone can playback a flash youtube click at 720p, This is incredbile!! But we aren’t done yet!! I changed over to 1080p!!! I know why on earth would i even try!!

It was able to play it back perfectly!!

Now any computer tech gadget geek will know, This is just insane to see happen!! Full 1080p flash playback on a phone!!! This isn’t something i expected to see on this phone and my guess is that dual core ARM A9 and Mali-400MP GPU are doing something right!!

 

USB OTG + MHL HDMI OUT

This phone does have a special feature, The micro usb port isn’t just for backing up your precious photos and videos!! no no no!! It’s also called a USB OTG port. Which stand’s for Universal serial bus(USB) On the go(OTG). Basically what this means is that with an adaptor(Ebay, Amazon) you can simply plug in say a usb flash drive and read and write date on it. This isn’t a small feature and really impact’s today’s portable gadget’s. There is also the ability to add mouse and keyboard support through the same cable.

I added a USB optical mouse and wouldn’t you know a little mouse appeared on screen and I was able to navigate using the mouse!! It was actually quite fun playing angry birds on the phone with a mouse!!

There is also the MHL HDMI out, Which is adaptor sold by Samsung and other third parties. Basically it gives you full 1080p out with a hdmi cable!! I have yet to test this to see what it looks like, But i have read that it preforms very well.

Conclusion

It’s hard to put down in words just how awesome this phone is!!

I have been waiting for this phone for ever since i got my first phone, I always imagined a phone that could do it all!! This is a computer replacement phone! It’s sheer power rivals laptops from only 6 years ago! To see a dual core arm 9 processor does an amazing job make this phone extremely fast and nothing but a pleasure to use.

I can safely say after using this phone for the past few weeks that it’s the best Smartphone I have ever had the pleasure of using. It’s the first phone i have seen to have it all. Speed, Slim, Light, Big screen, Great battery life, Amazing camera and Android which gives this a phone a fully customisable operating system it deserves. Anyone and everyone who use’s this phone will never regret it and will be simply drawn in by its mind blowing abilities! This is the phone of the future today. It gives smart phones the future they deserve by placing extreme power in everyone’s pocket! The ability to never be without great geek tech is the Samsung galaxy S2, Today more and more people are using smartphones more than computers and this phone is will be the number one reason why that all makes sense. To see a phone do the things this phone can do is the reason smart phones are becoming the info, gaming, communication gadgets of the new decade!!

Samsung you have done an amazing job with this phone and the Great Geek Tech award for best Smartphone ever belongs to you and your Samsung Galaxy S2!!

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Craig O'Sullivan
Craig O'Sullivan

Creator of Geektech.ie Passionate about Technology and always looking for that next cool gadget or app

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