Samsung’s original Galaxy S was very impressive – can its successor live up?
The Samsung Galaxy S II is a thin, light and fast smartphone. Of all the Android phones we've reviewed, the S II is up there with the best in terms of both looks and performance.
The 4.3in screen was one of the most impressive we've looked at – it was bright and colourful, even with the display settings turned down. It was also a good size for watching videos or looking at photos.
The fast processor ensured that the phone whizzed along in use, and generally it felt very responsive. More impressively, it also handled web browsing better than most Android smartphones. Navigating around complicated websites was quick and the large screen was good for seeing things easily and clearly. The phone never felt like it was lagging behind and struggling to keep up (a problem for many Android models) even when it was doing several things at once.
There was very little in the way of clutter, so much so that the S II is able to make do with just three physical buttons: a power switch, volume changer and the main control button. The Menu and Back buttons are touch-sensitive panels that light up when the handset is in use.
Samsung has added its own touches to the Android operating system, but most of them felt gimmicky. The accelerometer in the phone can be used to reposition applications on the home screens by tilting it left and right. Similarly, touching the screen with two fingers and tilting back and forth zoomed in and out when using the web browser. While this sounds clever, in practice it was awkward and difficult to use.
There are two cameras, an excellent eight-megapixel one with an LED flash on the back, and a two-megapixel one on the front that can be used for making video calls. The S2 can also record high-definition video in the highest resolution, 1080p.
We were annoyed at the amount of unnecessary software put onto the phone by Samsung and by Vodafone, which supplied our test unit. It all seemed unnecessary cumbersome on this high-end, expensive smartphone. The Samsung Social Hub app, with its poor grammar, was symptomatic of the poor quality of the included software.
At just 116g the Galaxy S II is very light, and it's thin too, but the trade-off for those benefits is that it felt quite flimsy: it lacked the satisfying heftiness of some heavier handsets. Still, compared to a lot of Android devices, the S II is a great-looking phone.
It is a fast smartphone with a great camera for both videos and photos, and as a competitor to the iPhone, the Samsung Galaxy S II is just about as good as Android gets at the moment.
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One of the best Android phones available, with a great screen and fast processor
Fast, slim and lightweight; great screen
Phone 0845 6726 7864
£400 or on contract
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