Samsung Galaxy S2 review

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

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Samsung realised the importance of keeping its phones up to date, initally shipping the Galaxy S2 with Android 2.3.3, although the Ice Cream Sandwich update arrived six months after it was released by Google. It's also packing TouchWiz 4.0, the latest version from the Korean firm, and it's a real upgrade.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Before we dive into the new features, we'll deal with the most important point: how it feels under the finger. And we're pleased to say it's the best out there in our opinion. Using dual 1.2GHz Samsung Orion CPUs means the Galaxy S2 can keep up with whatever you throw at it without a hint of slowdown.

And then we get onto the 4.0.4 upgrade:the S2 was clearly built for Gingerbread (Android 2.3).

It felt natural to use, where as ICS felt a little disjointed from the hardware. 4.0.4 feels more fluid and natural, much smoother, like it was really intended for the phone, rather than just being software pushed to keep consumers happy

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Be it pinching the screen to call up the exploded view of all your home screens, pulling up an application or simply scrolling through reams of photos, the Galaxy S2 is capable of matching it all. We're not usually blown away by a phone's response, but we couldn't beat the S2, even after we opened all the applications on the menu.

The large screen may make reaching all areas of the display slightly tricky in one hand, especially for those with small palms, but that's a rarity, and a secondary hand can easily be called in.

The TouchWiz interface is overhauled again, and to good effect in our eyes. The Samsung Galaxy S2 has a WVGA screen, which is now markedly lower-res than the likes of the HTC One X and Galaxy S3 with their HD screens, but it can still pack a load of widgets all over the place.

The same Android system is in place on the S2, but there are loads more widgets on offer to chuck around the home screen, and like the Motorola Defy, these are all easy to resize by dragging the corner to increase the functionality.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

We're fans of the way Samsung has split the screen for customising the home screens, enabling users to sweep across the options at the bottom while seeing what space is left on the display, and easy resizing makes the interface as clean as you want it to be.

Dragging down the notifications bar from the top of the screen usually just gives info on emails and messages, but Samsung also enables users to turn on Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth and more, plus set the sound options on the phone with a simple tap.

The Music player is also controllable from here, meaning you don't have to constantly move in and out of the player to change tracks.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 also features a folder system, much like Apple, except it's a little more convoluted to use that the iOS version.

You have to enter the editing mode (by pressing the menu key or long-pressing on the screen) and create a new folder. Then you can drag icons into it, and confirm it's ready - then tapping the name (properly) in edit mode enables you to change the name easily.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

We like being able to organise our apps, but we're sure there's an easier way. If only we could just, we don't know, drag them onto one another and have the folders auto-create?

This is a feature now embedded in vanilla Ice Cream Sandwich, so it's irritating to not have the option here.

With Ice Cream Sandwich comes a new multitasking menu. Hold down on the physical button to bring up the menu and you're greeted by a column of thumbnail images of apps you currently have running.

Swiping left or right over an app will close it and remove it from the list - a really quick and easy way to keep on top of the apps you have running and to switch between them.

You're also spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing an unlock method for your Galaxy S2. Head over to Settings > Security and you have the choice from the zero-secure 'slide to unlock' option, novelty, low-security face unlock, pattern, pin and top brass password.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

One new novelty idea, the two finger accelerometer zooming, was pretty cool but a little pointless. The idea is you hold two fingers on the screen for an internet page or photo (basically anywhere you might pinch to zoom) and tilt the phone backwards and forwards to zoom in and out.

It's cool and fun to show your friends, but ultimately a little pointless when pinching to zoom works so much better.

Another addition that comes in with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich is the ability to restart the Samsung Galaxy S2, instead of having to turn the handset off and then on again.

This is useful if you quickly want to wipe the RAM or if a software update or app install requires a reboot. Just hold down the power/lock key on the right-hand side of the Samsung Galaxy S2 to bring up the Phone options menu.

The interface on the Samsung Galaxy S2 might seem a little complex to an iPhone user, since it's chock-full of contextual menus, pinches, zooms, scrolls and dragging. But spend just a few minutes familiarising yourself and you'll find a phone that refuses to give in under the finger, and is full to bursting with functionality.

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