06
May
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Last Updated: July 24th, 2011

To say the Galaxy S II has a lot to live up to would be a drastic understatement. Its predecessor, the Galaxy S, was one of the most popular Android phones of its day, though it certainly wasn't without its shortcomings (*cough* TouchWiz *cough*). But with an even better display, a slimmer profile, a better camera, and - gasp - a new version of Samsung's custom UI, the Galaxy S II aims to patch over its antecedent's few flaws in addition to mixing in some new magic. So how does it fare? Pretty well, the great tech-heads of Europe declare.

Engadget

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 Engadget's Vlad Savov made his opinion of the Galaxy S II crystal clear: "It's the best Android smartphone yet." He loved its svelte profile, swish animations, and stunning 4.3-inch display. He also found its battery life to be "highly competitive," and its 8MP camera took some excellent shots. Enough summarization, though; let's let the review speak for itself:

For a handset with such a broad range of standout features and specs, the Galaxy S II is remarkably easy to summarize. It's the best Android smartphone yet, but more importantly, it might well be the best smartphone, period. Of course, a 4.3-inch screen size won't suit everyone, no matter how stupendously thin the device that carries it may be, and we also can't say for sure that the Galaxy S II would justify a long-term iOS user forsaking his investment into one ecosystem and making the leap to another. Nonetheless, if you're asking us what smartphone to buy today, unconstrained by such externalities, the Galaxy S II would be the clear choice. Sometimes it's just as simple as that.

Read the full Engadget review

SlashGear

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Vlad Savov wasn't alone in his approbation of the Galaxy S II; SlashGear also found the smartphone praise-worthy. Specifically, its Super AMOLED Plus screen performed admirably even in direct sunlight, and its 1080p video recording was also quite impressive. Battery life, call quality, looks, and general performance were similar stories - in short, excellent. In fact, one of the phone's only downsides was, unsurprisingly, Samsung's TouchWiz UI. Quoth Chris Davies:

Is it [the GS II] perfect? No, of course not. While we like some of Samsung’s tweaks – the Kies air app is surprisingly useful, for instance – we’d prefer to see a clean Gingerbread install rather than TouchWiz. How much of a delay that UI modification will force on future Android OS updates remains to be seen, and some changes – such as the keyboard – are frankly backward steps. There are also some annoying teething pains, such as the Video Maker app being unable to handle the Galaxy S II’s 1080p footage.

They pale in comparison to the Samsung’s strengths, however. The display belies its WVGA resolution with Super AMOLED Plus technology that manages to be both frugal and visible outdoors, while the dual-core 1.2GHz processor does a similar balancing act with power use and performance. Together they add up to a smartphone with brilliant battery life and the most future-proof hardware we’ve seen to-date. Layer on top of that a great camera, fulsome multimedia support, broad connectivity and a wafer-thin design, and we’re running out of reasons not to buy the Galaxy S II. Samsung has upped not only its game but the benchmark for smartphones in general.

Read the full SlashGear review

PhoneArena

In addition to pounding out a thorough review that corroborated other journalists' findings, Daniel P. of PhoneArena filmed a benchmarking test between the Galaxy S II and LG's dual-core offering, the Optimus 2X:

Don't feel like watching the full 8-minute video? Here's the scoop: the Galaxy S II is faster. A lot faster. Of course, benchmarking apps like Quadrant don't take the second core into account, but the Samsung handset also took the lead in Smartbench 2011, which is optimized for dual-core processors. That should come as no surprise considering what Samsung has managed to pack into the Galaxy S II's 8.49mm body: 1 GB of RAM and a custom 1.2GHz Exynos dual-core CPU. Oh, and that chipset also makes for some of the finest battery life you'll find on any currently available smartphone. In Daniel's words:

Probably the most important take from this review of the Samsung Galaxy S II is that it is, once again, future-proof. It has those highly-regarded and distinguishing features that won't make it obsolete in just a few months' time. The dual-core Exynos chipset chirps along capturing excellent Full HD video clips, whereas the 4.3” Super AMOLED Plus screen offers one of the best video playback experiences we've seen on a phone to date, with hardwired DivX/Xvid, and .MKV video formats support.

For enterprise users it is the first Android device to ship with encrypted hardware (perhaps real-time NAND Flash encryption), according to Samsung, which reduces the reliance on security software. We are yet to see if this will help the enterprise adoption of Samsung's flagship Android device, for which the company has also partnered with Cisco, Microsoft and Sybase.

If we didn't have 3D-capable handsets to consider, like the HTC EVO 3D for Sprint, or the LG Optimus 3D, we'd say that the Samsung Galaxy S II will be the Android handset to get so far. It is much thinner than the 3D beasts, though, and the Super AMOLED Plus display alone is a unique enough feature. The Galaxy S II will appeal most to people who prefer their large handsets in a slim and light package, an antipode of HTC’s muscular builds, and much easier to handle and toss around.

Read the full PhoneArena review

TechRadar

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It's official: the Galaxy S II is light. And thin. And durable (mostly due to the Gorilla Glass that covers its display - a feature to which the recently-reviewed DROID Charge can't lay claim). That does result in slightly plasticky ergonomics, as TechRadar's Gareth Beavis discovered, but ultimately, the device's overall slimness appears to be worth the trade-off.

Plus, TouchWiz 4.0 is said to be a major improvement over 3.0 (the version featured on the original Galaxy S), both in terms of performance and in terms of features. For example, Samsung's Android overlay now sports easily resizable widgets and nifty gesture controls. There's a whole lot more information in Gareth's full review, so be sure to read the quote below before heading on over to the exhaustive article at the link below.

But if you're after a one-word summary of the Samsung Galaxy S2: awesome. We've been waiting for a phone to set a benchmark among the dual-core breed, and we've found it in the Samsung Galaxy S2.

Read the full TechRadar review

The General Consensus

Wow. Simply put, the Galaxy S II is an amazing feat - in a design thinner than Sony Ericsson's incredibly sleek Xperia arc, Samsung has packed some of the most powerful smartphone hardware we've seen yet. Combined with Gingerbread and TouchWiz 4.0, the Galaxy S II is certainly a tasty morsel. Of course, the GS II isn't the only dual-core handset out there; Motorola and LG already have impressive portfolios, and HTC isn't resting on its laurels either. Additionally, Samsung's shady track record with updates should be taken into account, though the phone does come with Android 2.3, the most recent version of Google's mobile OS (at least until I/O). Still, the Galaxy S II looks to be a serious contender in the dual-core smartphone wars sure to break out this summer.

So, Sammy, when can we in the US buy it?

Jaroslav Stekl
Jaroslav Stekl is a tech enthusiast whose favorite gadgets almost always happen to be the latest Android devices. When he's not writing for Android Police, he's probably hiking, camping, or canoeing. He is also an aspiring coffee aficionado and an avid moviegoer.

  • n1 owner

    Will the bootloader be open?

    • jcase

      From the best of my understanding (no guarantees here), yes. It won't be a Nexus style bootloader, but it won't be locked down like Motorola.

      • Travis

        No matter how much people are hating on Samsung, HTC and Motorola are doing the evil deeds now, but Samsung, LG, and Sony Ericsson have resisted successfully. Things are looking up for these guys.

  • tom

    I am so game for the EVO 3D, but this is making me jealoussssss

    • Travis

      Indeed, this phone is sexy as hell.

    • Jeff

      i have my heart set on replacing my evo with the 3D, but if sprint was to announce a variation of this phone, i would give this phone serious consideration. guess it really comes down to when it gets announced...my guess would be a year after the epic, knowing sprint...and after the 3D is released.

  • wreckedandjealous

    mine is arriving from the UK to australia on monday....
    really looking forward to this phone

  • Goliath the great

    Is Verizon getting this beast?.....I neeeeeeed this phone so I can pick arguments with the apple fanboys :-)

  • Skillit

    Amazing device, but as of now I'm waiting for the GSM version of EVO 3D.

  • http://samsunggalaxys2blog.com/ Bebe

    My lover, my android dream

  • http://Www.ahlin.se Christian

    I'm waiting for Google I/O, everyone is recycling their phones so either they are giving out Nexus S, an upgraded Nexus S but not enough to call it a new model, or something super awesome...
    I want NFC, front facing camera and I want Ice cream early... ;)

  • ken mckean

    Well you wont get ice cream early with Samsung - if at all !!

    • Fegruson

      Not a problem over here in Europe! ;)

  • corwin1681

    Up to date, only one samsung phone got an update to the outdated 2.2, do you think they plan on updating this one? I lost faith in samsung, and will never get one of their devices again. I will stick with HTC, they have the best update record.

    • Andrew

      I couldn't agree with you more. I wouldn't buy this just because samsung has such a bad record with updating their phones. If they released this as a nexus phone I'd be all over it.

      • Saauron

        Not exactly. Samsung put out the 2.3 update pretty promptly, and over in Europe, the SGS was updated to gingerbread in April (Keep in mind, the Nexus S and gingerbread were only announced in February).

        Rolling out for carriers in the US and Canada has been far more problematic. I think the Verizon SGS is still running 2.1.

        Are any current HTC phones even running Gingerbread yet (officially)?

  • possible buyer

    correction:
    in the phone arena review the thickness of sgs II is quoted as 8.9mm instead of 8.49mm

  • Álmos

    "Samsung’s shady track record with updates should be taken into account"

    Samsung updated the original SGS to Froyo in just 4 months, and it was among the first to officially release a Gingerbread update.

    You're thinking of the US carriers.

  • aberkae

    Does it have hdmi mirroring like the G2X? Or some type of Display mirroring.

  • Here

    Does the GPS work?

    Galaxy S devices dont work at all.

    Know that, have two of them

    Now the G2X.. is the best phone I've used to date.

    No HDMI output? Geez..

    And its a Samsung device... that equates to poor quality software.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      The GPS works fine on the S2.

    • Jeff

      think it has a MHL port like the EVO 3D(actually it may have been the first device with the MHL port) that outputs HDMI via usb port.

  • Pat Burke

    My Galaxy S took a bath! Any ideas as to how to salvage this beauty?

  • http://[email protected] jesse

    Does the galazy s have an hdmi port?

  • sue leverseidge

    I love this phone,very slim,sylish and sleek,and more features than the samsung gal i9000.Would reccomend

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