Samsung Galaxy-S II – Awesome Super AMOLED Plus display – A new Android favorite @ dropSKIP
by Troy Saxton-Getty
We have been waiting to have our socks knocked off by a new Android smartphone, it’s been a while since we have been excited in this category, the HTC Thunderbolt gave us our last jolt of excitement but the world of Android has been pretty bleak since then, we’ve tested several new Android handsets but nothing has been worthy of a fav until now.
Enter the new Samsung Galaxy -S II! With it’s amazingly bright and beautiful 4.3″ Super AMOLED Plus display.
We’ve been using the phone for a few weeks every day and with the recent update to 2.3.6 OS the Gingerbread install is really clean and Samsung’s little tweaks in the UI and layout make it a nice interface, they call it TouchWiz and it’s now version 4.0.
On Android we have a special place for HTC’s Sense UI interface and all the nice improvements they bring to the base Android however the Samsung presentation of the basic Gingerbread UI is nice, crisp and easy to use. You tend to only notice these little differences when you use the phone in-the-real-world for an extended period of time vs a quick product review, something dropSKIP doesn’t do. Using these products in our day to day lives we get to find the things that work and don’t work that you wouldn’t notice is a basic one time review.
One of the things we noticed in day to day use is the “tablet” like features based on the orientation landscape vs portrait. For example, in landscape mode, the email or text message reader will shift into dual pane mode, giving you the ability to select, read and move on like the iPad. Sounds small, but in dealing with a multitude of messages from different accounts or a high volume of messages, this feature is fantastic.
These are features usually reserved for tablet layouts with larger screens, even the HTC Thunderbolt with the latest Sense UI interface doesn’t offer this feature so it can’t be due to just having the larger screen real estate. (both screens are the same size)
The larger format Android phones have an advantage here clearly over Apple who’s smaller but amazing screen just doesn’t have enough space to pull this off.
You can see the size different in the above photo pretty clearly as compared to the iPhone 4S, the extra size really does make a difference.
We like this handset for a few reasons, speed, performance, slim width, large and very colorful screen and overall feature set, including an 8MP camera.
Our test unit was fully loaded with 9 email accounts, movies, tv shows, games and lots of other content and it performed flawlessly, the battery life was pretty impressive since this thing has a huge screen and even watching movies over Netflix streaming on 4G, the battery held up better then any of our other Android handsets. Another nice thing about the newer models of phones is charging time is getting better to, however clearly the iPhone wins on recharge speed almost twice as fast getting to 50-60% than other models due to their quick charge technology.
The Samsung Galaxy-S II is very thin, making it easily pocketable front or back regardless of screen size, however I would be careful sitting on it in a back pocket.
Similar to the Motorola Droid models, the phone isn’t the same thickness on both ends to house the loudspeaker, it does however make it easier to grip and isn’t really an issue.
The Camera is one of the best we’ve used outside of the iPhone 4S, our gold standard by a long shot, however if that is a 10, this is a solid 8 out of 10. Color accurate, white balance in auto mode is accurate in and out of natural lighting, the flash works well and with a 3rd party app, makes a great flashlight.
The video recording is quite remarkable, even when pushed to a full 1080p, again, smooth and nothing noticeable in the recording.
The front facing camera is 2MP and works well for video conferencing.
If you are a huge HTC Fan you can get some 3rd party add-ons like the Thumb Keyboard from Beansoft and Beautiful Widgets to get the Sense UI main screen and weather “like” view and you won’t feel too bad not having Sense UI. As a Sense UI fan, I would be happy to share our list of add-on’s to get a non-HTC phone to feel like it really has Sense UI 3 all the way around.. comment here for the list.
With the Beautiful Widgets add-on, be sure to search for an updated skin which you will find many, but the ones that have the highest download rates are the ones that look similar to HTC’s Sense UI, I am glad these guys are keeping this product going, really useful stuff and only a few bucks.
We’ve also dropSKIP tested the Samsung with drops from 3, 6 and 9 feet onto standard office carpet without a case or screen cover. It held up without an issue, no parts flew off, the battery cover stayed on it and the battery stayed in it, from 9 feet that is the most usual occurrence. We haven’t done the dropSKIP concrete test as of yet, but will do it a few more months into our next testing regiment once we find a cool case and screen protector we like, we do like this phone bare at the moment.
On our performance testings, streaming video, switching to an incoming call, returning to video, checking text and email the unit worked flawlessly without a CPU hiccup, no stutter, just smooth and useful, a great use of CPU power when needed. A 1.2GHz ARMv7 dual-core processor makes it run smoothly.
We also ran our “heat it up test” and couldn’t get the handset to warm up to the touch much, unlike some of our earlier tests where the handset is almost uncomfortable up to the ear, and in some cases, even in our hands. Cooling is very efficient and heat generation is low.
The Samsung Galaxy-S II has some other nice features like sensors to determine it’s setting face down, a tilt-zoom capability the allows zooming by simply tilting the unit in landscape mode and a few others which you can turn on or off.
Browsing the web is a joy, we had to update the Adobe Flash Player and enable plug-ins, but Flash content rendered fast and the browsing experience is on par with smaller tablets. You will find it quite usable even for long browsing sessions while traveling without a computer or tablet.
We can’t say enough about this wonderful handset, Samsung has really set the high bar for Android handsets, fantastic!
If you are avoiding the Apple iPhone or just really love Android, you would be very impressed with this handheld, and don’t be discouraged because it’s not Android 3 or 4, the 2.3.6 Gingerbread with TouchWiz 4.0 gives it a brand new and fresh feel. We’ve already seen non-carrier hacks for Android 3 and 4.
A top 3 Android smartphone pick for us at dropSKIP!