Samsung Galaxy S II 4G Android phone

Samsung Galaxy S II 4G review: 4G flies, but there are better phones on the horizon

Samsung Galaxy S II 4G
  • Samsung Galaxy S II 4G
  • Samsung Galaxy S II 4G
  • Samsung Galaxy S II 4G
  • Expert Rating

    4.00 / 5

Pros

  • Fast 4G speeds
  • 4.5in display
  • Slick performance

Cons

  • Limited 4G coverage
  • Screen resolution outdated
  • Thicker, heavier than 3G model

Bottom Line

If you desperately need or want 4G connectivity on your phone and live or work in an area that's effectively serviced by Telstra's 4G network, the Galaxy S II 4G's fast data speeds will certainly impress you. However, newer phones like the HTC One X and Samsung's own Galaxy Nexus have better specifications, up to date software and more attractive designs.

Would you buy this?

Take the Samsung Galaxy S II, add 4G connectivity and you're left with the Samsung Galaxy S II 4G, right? Well, not quite. The Galaxy S II 4G may be Telstra's 4G variant of arguably the most popular Android phone on the market, but there is more to this new model than 4G. Unfortunately, none of the minor improvements are enough to make it a worthwhile purchase over some newer alternatives.

Samsung Galaxy S II review
Samsung Galaxy S II 4G preview
HTC Velocity 4G review

The need for four G's

If you're looking at buying the Galaxy S II 4G, you'll want to know about 4G first and foremost. The answer is yes, it's fast. Telstra's LTE enablement of its Next G network runs on the LTE 1800MHz network band but "switches across" to the Next G network when 4G coverage is not available.

In a 4G coverage zone, we regularly achieved download speeds of almost 30Mbps with the Galaxy S II 4G. The presence of HSPA dual-channel technology on this phone also means 3G speeds are fast, too. We regularly managed between 13Mbps and 19Mbps which is much faster than you'll get on most other smartphones including Apple's iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, for example.

The issue with 4G is, as always, limited coverage. If you live or work in a 4G zone and use mobile Internet on your phone extensively, then you'll no doubt quickly come to love the extra bandwidth the Samsung Galaxy S II 4G is capable of. To achieve these fastest possible speeds, however, you'll need to be using the phone within five kilometres from an Australian capital city or its respective airport in Australia, or three kilometres from around 80 regional and metropolitan centres across the country. There is no doubt Telstra will continue to expand and improve its 4G coverage, but its currently working in a pretty small area.

Samsung Galaxy Tab 8.9 4G As you can see, Telstra's 4G coverage in Sydney is fairly limited right now. The dark blue shade denotes an area where you will get 4G data speeds.

A bland design

4G antenna aside, the Samsung Galaxy S II 4G makes a few other changes to the original Galaxy S II. It has a slightly faster 1.5GHz dual-core processor and a bigger 4.5in screen. The Galaxy S II 4G also has a slightly larger battery in order to cater for the extra juice that Telstra's LTE network will use.

The bigger battery has resulted in a phone that is thicker and slightly heavier than its non-4G counterpart. Unfortunately, the size and weight gain has taken away what most people loved about the Galaxy S II, its extremely thin design. What's left is a phone that in our opinion looks quite bland. The Galaxy Nexus can claim a stylish curved design, the HTC One X boasts a striking polycarbonate finish and the iPhone 4S' combination of aluminium and glass gives it a distinctly classy edge. By comparison, the Galaxy S II 4G simply looks like a chunky block of boring, black plastic.

Some users will appreciate the extra real estate the Galaxy S II 4G's screen offers over the original model. At 4.5in, it's 0.2in bigger diagonally than the Galaxy S II. The super AMOLED panel is bright and clear, but the 800x480 resolution has remained the same. In a year when most flagship smartphones will offer HD resolutions of 1280x720, the Galaxy S II 4G feels a little outdated.

Next page: Software, performance, battery life and more.

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