Samsung Galaxy S II Android phone

Samsung Galaxy S II review: The Samsung Galaxy S II has a superb display and excellent all-round performance

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Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S II

Pros

  • Excellent performance and brilliant display
  • Ultra-thin and light design
  • Great multimedia features

Cons

  • Text hard to read when zoomed out in browser
  • Plastic battery cover and no camera button
  • Volume on earpiece could be louder

Bottom Line

The Samsung Galaxy S II is without doubt the best Android phone on the market, and may also be the best smartphone on the market, period. The Galaxy S II combines one of the biggest and best screens on the market, with blazing performance, functional, stable software and decent battery life. It has a few minor flaws, but none are enough to deter buyers: this is simply an exceptional smartphone.

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Samsung Galaxy S II: Performance and battery life

The Samsung Galaxy S II is powered by a 1.2GHz dual-core processor and this means one thing: it's fast. Very fast. This is most evident when browsing the Web: the Galaxy S II loads pages much faster than the iPhone 4 when connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and also breezes through most everyday tasks without a hint of slowdown. The Web browser has full Flash video support, while pinch to zoom and scrolling are smooth and fast. The Galaxy S II is very stable, and we did not experience a single crash in over a week of use. It's clear it is not a half-baked phone that was rushed to release, and feels very much like a finished product — a feat than many other Android phones can't claim.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is a quad-band 3G smartphone, so it works across all network bands in Australia, including Telstra's 850MHz Next G network. The Galaxy S II boasts 21Mbps download speeds, and 5.76Mbps upload speeds, which is faster than most smartphones, and even many dedicated USB modems. Running the speed test application over Telstra's Next G network, we managed to achieve a peak download speed of over 5Mbps.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is also one of the best Android phones on the market when it comes to battery life. It is far superior to the HTC Desire HD, which is widely regarded as one of the poorest smartphones for battery life, and it comfortably beats the Sony Ericsson XPERIA Arc as well. With moderate use, the Galaxy S II will easily last over a full day, and may even stretch up to one and a half days. During extreme use though, we found the Galaxy S II managed to last a maximum of about 14 hours. The display is the main cause of battery drain, often accounting for over 40 per cent of power usage, while Wi-Fi is also a big power user. For optimum battery life, we recommend keeping the brightness down, and switching both Wi-Fi and GPS off when not in use.

Galaxy S II The Galaxy S II's display is the main cause of battery drain, often accounting for over 40 per cent of power usage.

Samsung Galaxy S II: Multimedia and other features

The Samsung Galaxy S II comes with an 8-megapixel camera that doubles as a full HD 1080p video recorder, and also has a 2-megapixel front camera for video calls. Samsung has slightly tweaked the standard camera application and the changes are all positive. On the left menu you can customise four shortcut keys to include any of the camera's comprehensive settings, including effects, exposure, metering, blink detection and anti-shake, while the right side houses the capture key, along with a quick link into the gallery and the ability to switch from the rear camera to the front. The video mode also mirrors the same settings.

Images captured have plenty of detail and surprisingly minimal image noise, while video is smooth and sharp. Our only real complaint is the lack of a camera shutter key, which would have made capturing photos and videos a little easier — video recording in particular is hard to keep steady. Importantly, both the camera and video apps matched the Galaxy S II's blinding speed elsewhere.

The Samsung Galaxy S II doesn't have a HDMI-out port but comes with something better: a new connection technology called Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). The on-board MHL technology uses the Galaxy S II's standard micro USB port to output 1080p HD video and audio via HDMI. You'll need an optional micro USB-to-HDMI MHL connector to enable this feature, but the beauty of MHL means it can also be used with an optional USB adapter, meaning the Galaxy S II can utilise USB on-the-go functionality like the Nokia N8. It's a shame none of these connectors are included in the sales package. The Galaxy S II also comes with DLNA, Wi-Fi Direct, and Wi-Fi hotspot functions, so it is well equipped for multimedia sharing.

Believe it or not, the Samsung Galaxy S II makes phone calls as well. The built-in loudspeaker is loud and clear for both audio playback and phone calls, though the speaker does tend to distort heavy bass and is also in an awkward position; placing the Galaxy S II on a flat surface covers it. We also felt the volume of the regular earpiece for calls could have been louder, and our callers did sometimes complain they couldn't hear us too well when we were talking softly.

Galaxy S II The Samsung Galaxy S II has a new connection technology called Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL). It uses the Galaxy S II's standard micro USB port to output 1080p HD video and audio via HDMI.

Samsung Galaxy S II: Conclusion

If you're looking to buy a smartphone, the Samsung Galaxy S II should be at the top of your list. It's not perfect and has a few minor flaws — the rear battery cover feels flimsy when removed, there is no camera shutter button or LED notification light and the volume during calls could be louder. However, none of these reasons are critical enough to wholeheartedly recommend another smartphone ahead of it. The Galaxy S II's combination of a thin and light design, combined with the flexibility of Android, a superb display and best-in-class performance makes it the top Android phone on the market to date.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is sold through Telstra, Optus and Vodafone in Australia, and can also be purchased through online store MobiCity.

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