Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Dual-core power, beautiful screen - the Galaxy S II is the kind of sequel we like

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We've decided to dedicate a section of this review to the Samsung Galaxy S2's Hubs, since they're a real upgrade on what we've seen before from Samsung.

We're omitting the Social Hub as it's already been covered in the Messaging section of this review, but the rest of them are a little more complex and worthy of a little more delving.

Gaming Hub

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

We were hoping Samsung would bestow us with something like this when we first saw the Galaxy S2, and the brand has delivered.

The Gaming Hub is the easiest place to get the titles you want to expand the graphical capabilities of your new S2, and it offers them in, if not spades, trowels.

The Hub is split into two sections – free mess-about games and Premium offerings. The former is pretty good for many titles – we liked Air Hockey as it could be played with two people on that large screen, and was easy enough to waste time with on a commute.

The Premium section isn't too full at the moment – NOVA 2 with the gyroscope sensor was the best we could find when jumping in – and the games aren't too expensive at £3 a pop (charged to your phone bill... dangerous).

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

However, with free trials we can see this taking off if users really test out the power of their device, and the gyroscope worked like a dream – way better than the iPhone 4, in our opinion.

The graphics are still a little underpowered, so we're waiting to see what titles really test that Adreno 205 GPU.

One annoying point (although understandable) is that you have to download most games over Wi-Fi rather than 3G, because they're pretty huge in terms of file sizes.

It's 200MB for the NOVA game, for instance, so be ready to cue it all up before you leave the house.

Reader Hub

The Reader Hub is an odd little application when you first open it, as it presents you with three bookshelves which aren't actually interactive – they're just gateways to newspapers, magazines or books.

We were a little sceptical about the functionality of all of these items at first, especially as Samsung has ditched the excellent Aldiko e-book reader from the Galaxy S in favour of Kobo.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

But a little exploration combined with the power of the 4.3-inch Super AMOLED plus screen meant that we were soon using our Galaxy S2 to read all manner of content any time we had a few spare seconds on our hands.

The newspapers section has grown rapidly since launching last year, and now it's actually worth trolling through to find a title that interests you.

What's annoying about this is the sky high price of the digital editions – not so much if you use one of the paid-for titles, like the Observer, but given the Evening Standard is free already, we baulk at paying for it just so we don't have to throw it down on our train seat later on.

There are seven free issues to get you started on the newspaper section – we advise you don't use all seven on one paper as you'll likely be hooked after that. The papers will download every day with a little notification, and once opened you can browse page overviews, tables of contents or read each article in text form to make it easier on the eyes.

The latter function falls apart over double page spreads, with the article simply cutting off in these scenarios, but overall we're impressed and will likely be signing up just to read the sports section with ease. Wait, hang on, we can do the same thing for free on the internet. Forget that.

Samsung galaxy s2 review

The Kobo book reader, as we mentioned, isn't as good as Aldiko in our opinion – both offer the same functionality, but Aldiko has a greater range of free classics, a slider to adjust brightness and enables users to hit the volume key to turn pages. It's free on the Android Market and we suggest you download it instead... the Hub will survive.

The final option is magazines from Zinio – again, like newspapers, available on a subscription-based model and like the newspapers, very cool to use and browse through. We still think that mags are better suited to tablets, but they're perfectly legible on the Galaxy S2, and if you're after some time savings from trekking to the newsagents, they're a decent alternative.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Music Hub

The Music Hub is the Galaxy S2's version of iTunes – it's the same price at 99p per track for the most part, but is powered by 7digital.

We were initially a little unsure about this portal, as searching for some artists yielded little of what we were searching for – some artists were only listed under poor acts covering them. However, they were in there – we stumbled across them under Associated Artists later on, so we're not sure what's happening with that.

If you're after an easy way to search for and download music, this is an excellent option – however Amazon MP3 is a cheaper alternative and offers the same functionality with some better special offers.

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
Wireless LANYes
Contract TypeSIM-free
Maximum Memory Card Size Supported32 GB
Built-in Memory16 GB
Built-in FlashYes
Memory Card SlotYes
Cellular Data Connectivity TechnologyHSPA+, EDGE, GPRS, HSDPA, HSUPA
SAR Value0.34 W/kg
GPS ReceiverYes
Multi-SIM SupportedNo
Near Field CommunicationNo
Integrated TV TunerNo
Product FamilyGalaxy
Cellular Generation3.5G
Cellular Network SupportedWCDMA 850, WCDMA 900, WCDMA 1900, WCDMA 2100, GSM 850, GSM 900, GSM 1800, GSM 1900
Rear Camera Resolution8 Megapixel
Number of SIM Card Supported1
Front CameraYes
Memory Card SupportedmicroSD
Phone StyleBar
Operating SystemAndroid
Brand NameSamsung
Battery Talk Time18.30 Hour
Product ModelS II
Screen Size10.8 cm (4.3")
Screen Resolution800 x 480
Touchscreen TypeCapacitive
Weight (Approximate)116 g
Green CompliantYes
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityRoHS, WEEE
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Processor ManufacturerARM
Bluetooth StandardBluetooth 3.0
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
USB StandardUSB 2.0
Height125.3 mm
Width66.1 mm
Depth8.5 mm
Radio TunerYes
Battery Standby Time710 Hour
Product NameGalaxy S II Smartphone
Package TypeRetail
Processor Speed1.20 GHz
Processor TypeCortex
Product LineGalaxy
Screen TypeOLED
Sensor TypeAccelerometer, Proximity Sensor, Gyro Sensor, Digital Compass
Manufacturer Part NumberGT-I9100LKAXEU
Manufacturer Website Address
Marketing Information

Prepare yourself for Samsung's Galaxy S II, the world's thinnest smartphone. Using the latest Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system, the Galaxy S II brings together the 1.2GHz Dual Core Application Processor for unmatched performance and a brilliant 4.3" Super AMOLED Plus display. Featuring a lightweight and beautifully thin design (8.49mm), and advanced HSPA + connectivity, it represents the next generation in smartphone technology.

Package Contents
  • Galaxy S II Smartphone
  • Battery
  • Travel adapter (charger)
  • Quick start guide
Limited Warranty2 Year