Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone review

Superb smartphone that sets the new standard for Android.
Photo of Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone
£528 , SIM-free.

Samsung has quite a range of smartphones in its portfolio. Some run its own operating system, Bada, some run Windows Phone – but by far the greatest number run Android. And, quite frankly, when Samsung can do what it has done with the Samsung Galaxy S II, we have to wonder why on earth it doesn’t just stick with that OS.

Standout specs
It isn’t just theGalaxy SII’s dual-core, 1.2GHz processor that blows us away – though it is blisteringly fast. Nor is it the sleek design – just 8.49mm thick – that grabs our attention. Or even the 4.3in, 800×480-pixel Super AMOLED Plus screen. It’s the combination of all of these factors plus a whole lot more that make this handset so desirable.

Top-notch features like an 8-megapixel camera with 1080p video recording sit alongside a stunning array of apps, widgets for the seven home screens, a revamped TouchWiz 4.0 interface over Android 2.3, and support for DLNA and mirroring the display on large screens via HDMI. The latter is delivered via the bottom mounted microUSB port, and it’s a pity Samsung couldn’t have included a cable.

There are some disappointments, too. The Samsung Galaxy S II is extremely light, weighing in at just 116g – and to get to this weight, the build is plastic. It feels sturdy enough except for a very flimsy backplate.

Internal memory is limited to 12GB, with the quoted storage of 16GB achieved via microSD card, but to get to the slot you have to remove the battery. The physical Home button beneath the screen feels a little out of place – maybe it should be a touch button like the Menu and Back buttons that flank it.

And we aren’t sure why ‘pinch to zoom’ has been augmented with a tilt to zoom’ option. Hold two fingers on the screen and tilt the device to zoom in and out. Odd, but easily disabled.

Prowess in use
But these are in many respects quite secondary considerations. As soon as you start to use the Samsung Galaxy S II its great prowess shows through. Video is rendered beautifully without a stutter in sight, and the sound quality through the provided speakers is great too. Catch-up TV was never such an exciting prospect on any smartphone. Neat touches abound, one being a choice between Dynamic, Standard and Movie rendering of colour to help with viewing comfort.

And Samsung provides a range of additional applications. Among them is a document viewer and editor for Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and a superb tool called Kies Air. With the Samsung Galaxy S II on your home Wi-Fi network, run Kies Air and it gives you an IP address. Pop this into your web browser and you can access the device and do file transfer. It’s a real time saver for anyone who likes to move a lot of files to and from their smartphone.

We haven’t space here to do justice to all the features on offer – or the superb way in which they have been put together. You’ll just have to find a way to try this smartphone for yourself. We think it’s the one everybody else will have to beat.

Company: Samsung

Website: http://www.clove.co.uk

Contact: 01202 552936

Positives
  • Stunning combination of top-notch features.
Negative
  • Plasticky build; flimsy backplate.

Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy S II is the most exciting smartphone we've seen for a long time. Expensive, yes - but it sits right at the top of the specifications tree. If we had the cash to hand, we'd buy one in a jiffy.