Samsung Galaxy S II – first impressions review

Samsung announced at Mobile World Congress the successor to their 10 million plus, best-selling Galaxy S mobile phone – the Samsung Galaxy S II. The new model is a lighter, thinner, more powerful version of the first handset with a bigger screen and all with a view to better the sales of the first device.

The Galaxy S II has a more squarer appearance than the original phone, where the look of the iPhone 3GS has been lost. Dimensions have also moved on from the 64.2mm wide, 122.4mm tall and 9.9mm thick size, with a weight of 119grams, to 66.1×125.3×8.49mm and a lesser weight of 116grams.

Thin mobile phones are definitely in vogue this year, with the slim Sony Ericsson Arc and the Galaxy S II is no slouch in that department either, with its slim 8.49mm case that’s a good deal thinner than the iPhone 4 – with its 9.3mm chassis. The new design has the look of the limited edition Giorgio Armani run of the Samsung Galaxy S, where its linage can most definitely be traced to the new form factor the S II.

Samsung’s Galaxy S II screen has been upgraded from its predecessor, where version 2.0 now has a 4.3-inch display with a Super AMOLED Plus screen. This has a 30-percent improved visibility and clarity over the original 4-inch Samsung Galaxy S display. The resolution is still the same on both of the handsets at 480×800, although the screen does appear brighter and more distinctive than the original mobile; where other manufacturers have dropped AMOLED in favour of Super LCD instead.

Camera functionality has been increased in the Samsung Galaxy S series, from a 5 megapixel variant in the first model to an 8 MP version in the S II. This brings with it some notable improvements over the initial handset, with a LED flash and HD video recording capabilities. Samsung’s Galaxy S originally shipped with Android ‘Éclair’ 2.1, where the update to Froyo did actually bring with it HD 720p video recording which has been bettered now. The SII now has full high definition 1080p support, thanks to the power of the new chipset and processor.

Galaxy S II joins the ranks of the LG Optimus 2X and Motorola Atrix, by delivering dual-core prowess to the Samsung arsenal of phones. The handset arrives with a dual-core 1Ghz processor, which is actually made by Samsung where there could be better integration between both the hardware and the deployed OS as a direct result.

Internal memory in the has been doubled within RAM, from 512MB to 1GB. Samsung has done away with the 8GB variant in the UK, with 16GB of storage being the staple capacity of the Galaxy S II. Orange exclusively carried a 16GB model of the original handset at launch, where we’ve been told by Samsung there will now be a 32GB model arriving in the UK – competing head on with other manufacturers offerings. The upper limits of storage options don’t stop there either, as there’s also a microSD card slot that supports 32GB cards.

Running on the handset is the familiar Samsung user interface, known as TouchWiz. The new Samsung TouchWiz 4.0 ships as an overlay to the OS, where it’s the first handset to arrive with the UI; although there’s not a great deal of difference between this and the one running on the Galaxy S.

Samsung has taken a note from the Windows Phone 7 OS by including a number of ‘hubs’ that offer up centralised access to various aspects of the platform. The Galaxy S II has four hubs as a part of the TouchWiz UI, with the social, music, readers and game hub. Social hub offers access to social messaging sites, emails and conversation such as SMS where the music part will allow music download options. The readers hub provides quick access to ebooks, magazines and newspapers on the phone with the games hub will delivering games.

Samsung’s Galaxy S II has made improvements from the first device and on all fronts too, from screen, memory, processing power and design. When the Galaxy S mobile phone first shipped HTC were the forerunners of the Android flagship mobile phone race, where others were playing catch-up and Samsung surprisingly came out with a decent competitive handset. There are now more players on the flagship handsets in the market place to compete with HTC, from Motorola, to LG and now even Acer. The Samsung Galaxy S II does have the makings of the decent flagship handset and it is a good successor to the first model; whether this will better in sales of the original model only time will tell.

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