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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

Maps

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

We're glad Samsung has continued to see sense and get rid of its own brand of mapping software on the Google-powered phones – Google Maps is excellent and doesn't need a competitor on these sorts of devices.

The new 6.5 Google Maps application runs faster than a chocolate-covered pig through GreaseTown on the Samsung Galaxy S2, with elements like vector-based graphics zooming in and out with no hint of slowdown, and the 3D models of certain cities jumping out without a hitch.

The sat nav functionality was equally impressive – no need to download the voice software to make this one work for once, and we were off and running with a simple click of the icon – the Galaxy S2 managed to lock our GPS in less than five seconds, and we were away in no time at all.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

The voice search in these conditions works very well too, with the Galaxy S2 using Vlingo technology to understand your words and learn as you use it more often – we're not sure if it's used in the Google Navigation application, but the accuracy certainly seemed improved.

Another point we were happy with – the compass on the Samsung Galaxy S2 was more accurate than anything we've seen recently on smartphones, and actually pointed in the right direction most of the time. We know, startling, eh?

Apps

The Samsung Galaxy S2 is metaphorically bursting at the seams with pre-installed applications, from the decent BBC iPlayer to the standard Android calendar (with support for Exchange too).

Here's the apps we think you'll be impressed with when you first fire up the phone – and we love how many of them there are.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Polaris Office

A fully functional document suite, with support for both viewing and editing documents. An Astro-like file manager enables you to view all your folders in the phone, and a search function makes it easy to find the elements you were looking for.

My Files

We mentioned the Astro File Manager earlier, and Samsung has placed its own version of the app on the Samsung Galaxy S2, making it easy to find the files you've lost.

The only problem is you can't search through these files as you might on Astro – we recommend you still download the free application instead.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Voice Talk

Samsung has placed a Google Voice rival on the Galaxy S2, enabling users to tap a big blue button and speak to open contacts, mail, music, navigation and more.

It's powered by Vlingo and promises to get more attuned to your voice as time goes on; we found that this was somewhat true, but overall we tried to speak precisely and clearly anyway.

This application is accessed by double tapping the home button as well, meaning you're only ever two clicks away from issuing commands to your phone using the power of your voice.

Photo/Video editor

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

The appearance of iMovie on the iPhone got companies all hot under the collar – having jettisoned their rubbish movie-making applications they seem to be, like video calling, back with a semi-pointless vengeance.

You can slice up a video and add a theme and photos and transitions and music and blah blah blah, but it's still relatively boring in the end when you get a pre-made theme of your time at the beach.

Now Photo Editor we're bigger fans of, as you can crop, flip, colour fix and even smart select objects within the photo – all of which make it easy to improve the quality of your snaps.

The smart selection tool is a little weird, as it can be hard to accurately make it choose the right area – but overall, a neat little app.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Task Manager

A simple application that makes it easy to uninstall applications, shut down the ones you're no longer using and clear the phone out completely and reboot the amount of RAM available to you.

The latter can be a tricky one, as it basically shuts down everything that's not doing something critically important at that time. This means all your widgets will reboot and the Samsung Galaxy S2 will stutter as it scrambles to reload everything – you have been warned.

Data usage

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

We're all consuming more and more data on our phones and it's easy to go over your monthly allowance and rack up a huge bill. Luckily the data usage app, which comes as standard with Ice Cream Sandwich, is here to help.

It keeps track of how much mobile data (so not Wi-Fi usage) you use and you can easily set an alert and limit, to prevent you from getting a shock at the end of the month in your bill.

Mini diary

We've seen this on multiple Samsung smartphones before, and we've never been sure of its purpose. Basically you take a photo, put it in the diary, write where you were (or use GPS to do it for you) and say something funny about it.

AccuWeather then provides details of the current conditions and... well... that's it. No uploading, no saving them somewhere else, just a list of photos and places you've been. It's a cute application, sure, but useful? We're not convinced.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Samsung Apps

Of course, there's also a whole galaxy (arf) of other applications available on Google Play – which makes Samsung's decision to implement its own app store all the more perplexing.

It's got around 30 applications in there such as Movies and Road SMS (which enables you to type text messages over the camera screen so you don't walk into things. However, this is only useful if you type with the phone right in front of your eyes, which nobody does).

It's a pointless hub, but Samsung loves it and once you turn off the updates to let you know when there are more apps available for download, you can ignore it happily for the rest of your life.

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
Operating System VersionAndroid 2.3 Gingerbread
Messaging TypeSMS (Short Message Service), MMS (Multi-media Messaging Service), Email, Instant Messaging
RealtoneYes
Radio Tuner TypeFM
Call FeaturesCaller ID
Height125.3 mm
Width66.1 mm
Depth8.5 mm
Radio TunerYes
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