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Samsung Galaxy S2 review

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

Our Verdict

We have to drop the score of this phone as it's simply ageing now and is bettered by the S3 - but rest assured, with ICS it's still a stunning phone.

Product features

  • Built-in Memory : 16 GB
  • Rear Camera Resolution : 8 Megapixel
  • Battery Talk Time : 18.30 Hour
  • Screen Resolution : 800 x 480

View full specification

For

  • Super-fast reaction times
  • Slim design
  • Ridiculously clear screen
  • Clear call quality
  • 1080p video recording

Against

  • Flimsy back cover
  • Poor keyboard layout
  • Samsung Apps portal

Update: We've updated our review to reflect the software update on the Samsung Galaxy S2 to Android 4.0, Ice Cream Sandwich - and to include the changes found in the recent 4.0.4 update as well.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 - or Samsung Galaxy S II, as it's also known - is the phone the Korean firm deems the successor to its best smartphone so far. And with a dual-core 1.2GHz processor, super-slim chassis and feather-light innards, it's easy to see why.

The dual-core smartphone race is packed, with Samsung's own Galaxy Ace 2, the Huawei Ascend P1, Sony Xperia Go, iPhone 4S and many more handsets all boasting the fast processors, although bigger brother the Samsung Galaxy S3, LG Optimus 4X HD and a growing number of others run with quad-core CPUs.

Coming in at around £18 a month and £390-odd ($529) SIM-free, the Samsung Galaxy S2 has dropped in price since its launch and is now an attractively affordable high-end smartphone.

You can check out our Samsung Galaxy S2 video:

The Samsung Galaxy S2 is almost impossibly thin when you pick it up – dimensions of 125.3 x 66.1 x 8.5mm mean it's one of the thinnest smartphones on the market, rivalling the likes of the iPhone 4S and Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc, but falling behind the tiny 7.69mm-thick Huawei Ascend P1.

Samsung galaxy s2 review

It's crazy-light too – when we show you what tech is rammed under the hood, you'll be amazed that it all fits into a handset that weighs only a shade over 100g (116g, to be precise).

Samsung clearly traded the premium feel that an all-metal chassis might have brought for keeping the grams off the Galaxy S2 – pop the battery cover off and you'll find you're holding a piece of pretty flimsy plastic.

Samsung galaxy s2 review

However, most of the time you won't be removing this, and it fits nicely into the contoured chassis – the mesh feel on the rear also helps keep your hand from getting warm during extended holding.

The other thing you'll notice when you first pick up the Samsung Galaxy S2 is the screen – at 4.3 inches it's hard to miss, and when you turn it on the Super AMOLED Plus technology hits you square in the eyeballs (once it's got through the toughened Gorilla Glass).

It's not quite in the same league as the Samsung Galaxy S3; while some will argue the pixel quality is higher on the S2 thanks to a different sub-pixel arrangement, it's still markedly lower-res than the S3.

Samsung galaxy s2 review

We called the Samsung Galaxy S "the best phone on the market for media" when we reviewed it, thanks to its first-gen Super AMOLED screen. Now the Galaxy S2 has definitely improved on that, with a superbly crisp and vibrant screen - although again, it's been bested by the S3.

In the hand, the Galaxy S2 sits much better than we'd have expected, given the whopping screen on offer, and that's mostly down to its slim depth.

Samsung galaxy s2 review

The front of the phone is pretty sparse, with the home key the only piece of furniture on offer. This rectangular button flanks two touch-sensitive buttons – Menu and Back – so there's no room for contextual search here, although this is called up by long-pressing the Menu key.

The volume keys are located on the left-hand side, and the power/lock key is on the opposite flank; both are easy enough to hit without error, and crucially the travel on the power key is softer so that it's much easier to hit when you're juggling it in the palm – compare that to its predecessor, where you could accidentally drop it trying to shut off the screen.

Samsung galaxy s2 review

The 3.5mm headphone jack lives on the top of the phone, bucking the lower placement on other 4.3-inch screen phones, and the micro USB slot (which also doubles as an HDMI out port) lives on the bottom.

The only other element of note is the 8.1MP camera with single LED flash on the rear – it's slightly raised, but not so much that it disrupts the Samsung Galaxy S2 when you're placing it on a table, thanks to a rear lip to help you hold the phone.

Samsung galaxy s2 review

We actually (foolishly, in hindsight) unboxed the phone while bouncing about on a powerboat on the Thames – and luckily, there was a camera rolling the whole time. (Note - we're well aware of the stupid spec mistakes we made while on the boat. Some were down to information given to us by Samsung that changed, and some due to sheer confusion at being thrown 10 feet in the air and having our spine crushed.)

Tech Specs

Product TypeSmartphone
Network BandQuad Band
Input MethodTouchscreen
TouchscreenYes
BluetoothYes
Wireless LANYes
USBYes
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
ColourBlack
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
ManufacturerSamsung
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 Addresshttp://www.samsung.com/uk/
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