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Last Updated: August 2nd, 2012

The FedEx man brought me a lovely little gift yesterday: The T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II. This is the last stateside arrival of the Galaxy S II family. The review will take a bit to get out the door, so until then I figured I'd whet your appetite with some initial impressions.

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First of all, this thing is big. Really big. I have to say though, I love the design of it. It feels sturdy and very well made. Like Samsung really knows what they're doing. The plastic back has a wonderful texture to it that almost makes it feel like leather. I think I like it better than cold, slippery aluminum. The 4.52 inch screen is bright and beautiful, but the extremely low pixel density means everything is gigantic.

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The T-Mobile variant (codenamed "Hercules") is the odd man out in the SGSII family. T-Mobile saw fit to swap out the 1.2GHz Samsung Exynos processor for a 1.5GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon, which has moar gigahertz but a crappier GPU. The two gigahertz numbers aren't directly comparable, so I'll have to pay attention to performance in the review. Expect benchmarks.

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This beauty is also equipped with NFC (unlike the Sprint variant), so hopefully, someday, it'll have Google Wallet support. Right now only Nexus S 4G owners get to live in the future. Speaking of software, this thing is packed with garbage. It comes with 3 and a half pages of apps; I've got my work cut out for me.

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The full review will be coming in a few days. I'm going to go get to work. In the meantime, enjoy the photos and feel free to ask any questions you would like addressed in the write-up.

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Ron Amadeo
Ron loves everything related to technology, design, and Google. He always wants to talk about "the big picture" and what's next for Android, and he's not afraid to get knee-deep in an APK for some details. Expect a good eye for detail, lots of research, and some lamenting about how something isn't designed well enough.
  • http://www.teslamotors.com Down8

    At this point, I'm sure it's beating a dead horse, but... how's the GPS? I'm down with #NeverAgain because of the Vibrant debacle (traded that garbage away for an HD2 hacked to run Android). With a contract renewal coming up, I'm down to the Amaze 4G, or another "looks great on paper" Samsung. Also, does Sammy still run that wacky filesystem that isn't EXT? RFS, I think (really f*cking slow?).

    -bZj

    • draigons

      I think I have read it is running .ext have not heard about GPS curious myself.

    • 41LY45

      Well, the Galaxy S II runs ext4 now. No longer RFS.

      And 2ndly, this device with Qualcomm chips are know to have good GPS. (can't guarantee this does)

      So go figure.

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

      According to Ron, GPS runs great and locks on within seconds.

    • Frankenstein

      I have the AT&T version and the GPS is brilliant. I can get a lock outside in just a few seconds. Inside (I'm in the bottom floor of a 2 story condo) I can get a lock in 5-10 seconds.

    • Tops

      You can rest easy man. The gps is a non issue in my S2. Best phone i ever had. Period.

  • Cole

    thank you, i can't wait for your full review!

  • danny

    Beautiful device. I'm jealous. Can't wait go get mine next week!

  • http://pharaohtechblog.blogspot.com Conan Kudo (ニール・ゴンパ)

    Check the GPS accuracy, please.

    Also, if possible, get it unlocked and see how well it performs on AT&T's network as well. I'm considering buying the T-Mobile Galaxy S II even though I'm on AT&T right now because the T-Mobile version is less... flawed, as far as I know.

    • Ron Amadeo

      Sorry. I'm not allowed to unlock or root it (believe me, I want to). I'll definitely be looking at the GPS though.

      • Deltaechoe

        not being allowed to unlock the sammy phone? I feel bad for you, samsung's software is garbage, their hardware is usually pretty good, but just crap for software.

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

          This is a review unit, and the goal is to review its stock performance, not root and customize it with ROMs.

        • chris

          TouchWiz is actually pretty good on the GS2. I've tried MIUI, CM7, a number of modified samsung frameworks and I've gone back to the latest stock ROM! Other ROMs may give higher benchmarks but the launcher and app drawer are smoother than anything I've tried...and that would be CM7 with every launcher on the market pretty much.

        • Steve

          Was true for their older phones but touchwiz 4 really feels smooth and mature for me. I was concerned about it before getting my at&t version of the galaxy, so I tested it out at the store first since it was the only thing making me hesitant. Got rid of any worries i had on the spot, and using it for a few weeks now I actually love how everything feels. Fortunately for us consumers, Samsung delivered an ace.

  • Dougnuts

    I'd like to see some real world upload/download speeds with this phone being able to use T-Mobile's 42mbps "4G". Thanks in advance for the review!

    • Ty

      Yes, good call, I'm also curious to see what areas can even get that high of speeds, the most I've been able to hit on my G2 is 8 down and 2 up.

    • Ron Amadeo

      I only get about 9mbps up and 1mbps down in my area. Reception is spotty.

  • http://Google Fabian

    I really like and want this phone. I never had a samsung product are they good in quality, the feel of the phone. also do they maintain their phones up to date on a timely matter

    • http://www.teslamotors.com Down8

      Their maintenance track record has been quite bad. Terrible in some cases.

      They promise to do better, and have hired Cyanogen into their fold, so we'll see if it's true. It's just lip service at this point.

      -bZj

    • chris

      These phones are pretty easy to root and therefore you're not at Samsung's mercy regarding updates! :)

      In terms of quality, people rabbit on about it being plastic instead of aluminium, but as someone who's owned a Desire HD too I don't care that it's plastic. The actual quality of the build is much higher, all the buttons have a reassuring click missing from the DHD and there are no creaks unlike the dodgy SD/SIM slot cover on the HD.

      Just my impression's. I had the DHD for about 6 months and I've had my GS2 for about 2 and a half.

      • Milind

        Samsung sucks eggs as far as upgrades go. They make pretty good hardware, but after my Vibrant experience, I'll never again buy another Samsung phone. The problem is not with rooting. The problem is that they don't release source code and drivers so the customized ROMs can't really take fix everything. I'll avoid this phone like the plague. The only Samsung phone I'll consider is the Nexus since I should be able to upgrade the OS directly from Google.

  • http://electrojelly.wordpress.com Emmanuel

    I fell in love. I would still consider this over the Nexus Prime because I hate the extremely ugly on-screen buttons. This is so beautiful. I'm speechless. Gonna get it unlocked :D

    • http://Google Fabian

      So you recommend this phone. im a big htc phone fan love there phones. fell in love with htc from the first phone i bought and never looked back i just don't know if I'm making the right decision getting A samsung phone since i always get a htc products

      • http://electrojelly.wordpress.com Emmanuel

        Btw. I think the price will drop in Spring because of all the HD displays and the demand. SO I would wait a few months until the cake cooled off.

      • Gregory

        The Galaxy is the best phone I ever had, which included the Evo. HTC phones are fine, but Samsung is on another level.

    • Ron Amadeo

      I'm sure if you root you can theme the on screen buttons.

  • Follow @toofly504

    YAY!!! We Get to "Play attention to the reveiw" (3rd Paragraph) sorry that stuck out like a red sore thumb on St Patricks Day, I want to know the Smart Bench, Speed Test, and other Bench marks (Cant think of the name now)

  • RASHIDAH

    HOW IS THE SPEAKER VOLUME ON THE GALAXY S2?? IS IT LOUD ENOUGH TO HEAR YOUR PHONE RINGING FROM ANOTHER ROOM? HOW ABOUT SPEAKERPHONE SETTING FOR CALLS? IS IT LOUD AND CLEAR ENOUGH TO HEAR THE PERSON ON THE OTHER END?

    • Flippy125

      Your excessive caps lock mildly irritates me

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

      Clearly, this person needs to be heard. LOUD AND CLEAR.

      • RajivK

        Yeah the phone is probably for his wife ;)

    • Ron Amadeo

      THE SPEAKERPHONE AND RINGTONES ARE VERY LOUD. SOME OF THEM EVEN HURT A LITTLE.

  • kdog808

    does it have wifi calling

    • Ron Amadeo

      Nope.

  • Me262

    Does the USB Host work? It is broken on the Epic 4G Touch and the AT&T.

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

      You'd need a USB host cable for this, right? I'm not sure one comes with the box or that Ron has it handy.

      • Ron Amadeo

        I do. I was going to test bluetooth for PS3 controllers too, since that's supposedly broken on some Samsung devices.

        • Ron Amadeo

          Scratch that last part, PS3 controllers require root.

    • tdavis42

      No, that was removed by Sammy in 2.3.4 There was a huge article over at XDA that ChainsDD wrote about that being specifically removed from 2.3.4.

    • Paul

      Can you go into more details? Does the MHL port allow for a USB host connection? I've seen MHL cable adapters to give you an HDMI port and a MicroUSB port, but that's client I assume. Is there a MHL cable to plug into the MHL port on the bottom that can give you a regular USB port, so you can plug in things like a keyboard or a mouse?

    • Ron Amadeo

      OTG Cable to a flash drive works. There's even a cute little "Safely Remove" notification.

      Anything else I should test besides a flash drive?

    • rashidah

      That's great news about the speakerphone!! The speakerphone on the htc sensation was so low. I'm glad this one is good!!

  • audiotek

    Why on earth is there a Samsung logo at the bottom of the screen?? That looks like a very bad design and completely out of place.

    • Paul

      One of the previous leaks of the T-Mobile version showed the Samsung logo at the top, no T-Mobile logo. I thought it was nice of T-Mobile as every other carrier put their name all over it. But at the last second it seems T-mobile put their name across the top and decided instead of completely ditching the Samsung logo they crammed it into the bottom.

    • Ron Amadeo

      It is uncomfortably close to the buttons.

  • Paul

    I'm getting the AT&T version since I'm on AT&T but my wife's on T-Mobile. I'm getting her the MyTouch 4G Slide but I've been wondering if I should reconsider and see if she wants the SGS2 for T-Mobile. I wonder then how her CPU/GPU/Network-Performance would stack up against my AT&T version (on AT&T network). I'm particular interested in the CPU, 1.5 ghz qualcomm vs 1.2 ghz exynos. In general I've known AT&T's network to kick T-Mobile's networks rear end in data performance.

  • J

    Ron,
    Would love to see close ups on the screen. I am a little saddened by the quality of the screen. It would be great to see it up close and also compared to an original Vibrant.

  • http://androidfan Rome

    Does the samsung gs 2 have the notification light on the front? How is the speakerphone performance, my gs 1 has a excellent speakerphone, something that htc very dearly lack at with there weak sounding speakerphone.

    • Ron Amadeo

      Light: No. Speakerphone: Awesome. and LOUD.

  • kate

    please talk about the messaging/texting features in the full review :)

    p.s. this might be my first touch screen phone, how hard is it to text on it?

    • Ron Amadeo

      Those are the same as on any other Android phone.

      If you've never used a touchscreen keyboard it takes some getting used to. The larger the screen the easier it is to type on.

  • Guticb

    How thin is it? Compared to a Vibrant?

    • Ron Amadeo

      About the same as a Vibrant. The Vibrant is 9.9mm, this is 9.4mm.

  • azumihk

    Its 1 of the thinnest phones out now and one of the fastest if not the fastest out now.
    screen is super good for watching movies.
    gps locks within seconds
    sounds is overall ok.Touchwiz 4 is much better then 3 and updates are rolling out very fast.2 days ago i got 2.3.4.
    Minus is the battery power, i bought second battery. if u use 3g much it will eat your battery super fast, on wifi its ok for about 10 hours but 3g hmm lucky if u manage 6 hours and use your phone for everything internet realted it goes fast fast.

  • phoneking

    Could you evaluate the wifi and speech to text engine. Thanks.

    • Ron Amadeo

      It's Google's could speech to text, so it's just as good as any other Android phone.

      The WiFi supports N Speeds but I could only get it to connect at 65mbps. That's 10 times more than you need for web browsing, but you need everything you can if you're doing file transfers.

  • Ieesha

    WTF!!! No wifi calling..that sucks major ass!!!

  • Jose

    Leesha is so stupid and wrong this is the best phone I ever gotten