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Samsung Galaxy S2 review

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

While the Samsung Galaxy S2 has a relatively large screen and seems to be all about movies and the internet, it's important to remember that under the hood it's still a phone.

And the phoning capabilities of the device are perfectly sound, and the contacts management system is as deeply integrated as anything we've seen.

Contacts

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Samsung has always favoured the set up of tweaking the standard Android contacts management system, where tapping a person's profile picture from anywhere will call up options to phone, message, email and more.

The Ice Cream Sandwich update has removed the ability to jump to Contacts from the Phone app and vice-versa, which may confuse Galaxy S2 users who are used to the Android Gingerbread layout.

It's still easy to call or message someone from the contact list, with a right to left swipe over the person calling them and left to right opening up the messaging screen.

This is done by synchronising as many accounts as you can from the outset – once you've downloaded the official Facebook and Google+ applications, this functionality is added in too - with high-res pictures coming across from the Google+ account.

However, Twitter has inexplicably been removed, so no longer can you have your friends linked into their 140-character long missives. This is still compatible with ICS, as the HTC One X still allows it, but Samsung has called time on the option. Annoying.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

A word of caution if you're upgrading from another Android phone: if you've been chucking Google contacts in left, right and centre previously, you might find loads of duplicates when you first set up your Samsung Galaxy S2.

We'd advise you to head into the Google Mail site on your computer and have a look at the contacts on there. A simple Find and Merge Duplicates search will work wonders.

Once you've called in all your contacts, it's a simple (yet slightly time consuming) process of joining them all up. On some Android phones this is a real pain, asking you to click Edit, then Join Contacts then go to find the person in question.

On the Galaxy S2 it's a little simpler – hit the Joined Contacts section in your contact's profile and you'll be given a list of suggestions to tie in with.

However, it's not overly intuitive – there were plenty of occasions when we had to manually search for someone when they had the same first name on Facebook and should have been automatically suggested.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

When you compare this to the likes of the HTC One X, with its almost eerie recognition of the person you're after (plus a list of names it thinks you should join up to speed things up) it's not in the same league.

One cool option is the ability to set default options for everything – be it profile picture, email address or phone number for messaging or calling. This means you can have a buddy's Facebook picture as their default icon, but use another account for emailing and such.

Like HTC's Sense UI, Samsung enables you to see ways in which you've interacted with the contact, a list of their recent status updates and access to online albums. However, if you want to actually see their pics, you'll need to jump out to the Facebook site, so no native support here, unlike the HTC Incredible S, for instance.

Scrolling through the contacts is once again a dream – either search using the keypad, slide down the side to the desired letter or just scroll down – there's no hint of slowdown here.

Smart dialling is also included, enabling users to type in a number using predictive text on the dial pad and have the relevant number come up. Pretty slick and helpful when in a hurry.

Calling

The call quality on the Samsung Galaxy S2 is excellent too – be it noise reduction control or a loud speaker and earpiece, we couldn't fault the phone for its calling abilities.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

Video calling is also firmly integrated, thanks to the Ice Cream Sandwich version of Android, and is a simple option on the bottom of each contact profile. We tried this out a few times with some random friends, but we reckon you'll struggle to find many out there at the moment who can accept your video chat request. Not that or our friends don't want to look at us. Actually....

The noise reduction control is cool – turning it on and off led to a marked difference in call quality. We're not sure why you would want to turn it on and off as it's a very good way to be, you know, heard, but it's there if you want it and want to prove how snazzy your phone is.

Another option we like is that when you hang up a call you get options to call or message the person. If you've forgotten to say something, or need to tell them something in private, it's a real time saver.

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

One gripe and one we've bleated about before is that in the call log list, the default option is to have everything listed at once – including incoming and outgoing messages.

Samsung has listened to its fans with the Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich update, providing a toggle option in the logs feature so you can select the information which displays there. Our preference was "All Calls" - getting rid of those pesky message logs, but there are a number of options to please your taste.

And with 4.0.4 you now get access to contacts on the dialler screen, which improves things immensely too.

Signal quality was well within acceptable parameters: when in our favourite low-signal hotspot (the middle toilet cubicle on the 3rd floor) we dropped to the normal one bar, but the HSDPA signal held on for grim life, keeping the internet connected at all times - and we didn't experience one dropped call through our tests.

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