11
Oct
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Finally it's T-Mobile's turn to take a swing at the Samsung Galaxy S II, almost six months after the rest of the world. No adjective soup for this variant; its official name is, plainly, the "T-Mobile Galaxy S II." Formerly known as the "Hercules," this is the misfit in the GSII family. In its heart pumps a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, instead of the normal Samsung Exynos. So it's not just a carbon copy of all those other GSIIs. My initial impressions were posted a few days ago, and since then I've had some time to see if this thing was really worth the wait.

Design

Let's get this party started with some specs!

  • 4.52 inch, 800x480 Super AMOLED Plus screen galaxy_specs_sprite
  • 1.5GHz Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3
  • 1 GB of Ram
  • 16GB of internal storage (11.25GB /sdcard partition)
  • 1850mAh battery
  • 8 MP camera with flash
  • 2 MP front-facing camera
  • 1080p HD video capture
  • "4G" HSPA+ 42 Mbps download speed
  • NFC (!)
  • WiFi a/b/g/n
  • Bluetooth 3.0
  • HDMI out via an MHL cable
  • Dimensions: 129.8 mm x 68.8 mm x 9.4 mm
  • Weight: 4.77 ounces (135 grams)
  • Micro SD slot (up to 32 GB)
  • Android 2.3.5 with Touchwiz 

I want a camera button. Other than that, I love the look and construction of this phone. Like I said in the initial impressions, It's thin and beautiful, and the materials are just wonderful. The back is coated in a soft touch plastic that almost feels like leather. The screen is very large at 4.52 inches, but the thin bezel means the overall phone size isn't comically large. There's a metal colored band around the edge of the phone, but it's dark enough that it doesn't look like a cheap 1st gen iPhone knockoff or a Blackberry.

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IMG_20111008_125530 s1

 wm_s2

The haptic feedback (aka vibration) is surprisingly pleasant. Most other phones have it set way too long, and it makes it feel like the phone is vibrating for no reason. But the GSII has a very crisp, sharp vibrate. I actually want to keep it on.

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The "S" stands for "Seesaw."

One part of the design that I absolutely hate, and it's almost a deal breaker for me, is that the phone doesn't sit flat on a table. The above picture shows just how unstable it is. Tapping this phone anywhere other than dead center will send it incessantly rocking back and forth like a seesaw. I can honestly say at one point I wedged folded-up post-it notes under each side so it would stop. It's really a shame, the phone is very solidly constructed, but the rocking motion (and the noise) it makes whenever you use it on a table makes it feel cheap and poorly thought out.

Also in the negative column: no notification light. Really, Samsung? This is like, basic phone functionality. Am I supposed to constantly check my phone anytime I may have missed the notification chime? I can confirm NoLED works -- it will put a hit on your battery though.

All the phone stuff works great. The earpiece is nice and loud, and the speakerphone is VERY loud. Some of the notifications actually hurt my ears a bit. You aren't going to want to listen to music on it or anything, but it works great for conversations.

That Screen

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The first ever phone with an integrated JumboTron!

The star of the show, the 4.52 inch screen, is, sadly, a mixed bag. It's a "Super AMOLED Plus" display, so the colors are bright and beautiful. You get the full compliment of subpixels, not that crappy pentile stuff from the first Galaxy S. The blacks are so black they almost blend into the bezel when the phone is off. The viewing angles are flawless.

The mixed in this mixed bag comes from the resolution -- it's 800x480. With a 4.52 inch screen, that puts you at around 206 DPI. Let me show you how bad that is:

  • iPhone 4: 326 DPI
  • Nexus Prime: 320 DPI (rumored, but true)
  • Motorola Atrix: 275 DPI
  • Motorola Droid: 265 DPI
  • HTC Evo: 240 DPI
  • Samsung Galaxy S: 233 DPI
  • T-Mobile Galaxy S II: 206 DPI
  • T-Mobile G1: 180 DPI

That's right, the only device the T-Mobile GSII can claim DPI victory over is the original Android device. You know, the phone with 528mhz processor from 2008. The pathetic DPI means apps on this phone are HUGE. Everything is too big. It reminds me of the Jitterbug phones for old people with vision problems. Screens this big should be able to show you more Android. I want to see more messages, more email, more everything. This is just bigger Android. There is no benefit to a screen this size when you don't have to resolution to back it up. Check out Gmail on the 4 inch Atrix vs the 4.52 inch GSII:

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The Atrix packs 1.5 more list items into it's smaller screen because of it's higher (960x540) resolution. There is no point to a giant screen when the DPI is this low. Webpages are actually unpleasant to read in portrait mode, apps are blown up to ridiculous proportions - it's just a waste.

Performance

Remember, this is the weird Galaxy S II. You get a 1.5 GHz Snapdragon instead of a 1.2 GHz Exynos. More GHz=Faster, right? No.

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Left: The T-Mobile GSII. Right: The Sprint GSII (AKA Epic 4G Touch)

Why did the higher GHz phone lose? Well the main factor seems to be a different GPU to go along with that Snapdragon. The T-mobile GSII has a Qualcomm Adreno 220 GPU, the other GSIIs have a (much better) ARM Mali-400. Apparently the reason for all this chip swapping is the limited compatibility with T-Mobile's HSPA+ modem, so I hope the service in your area is worth it.

But let's ignore all the technical stuff for a moment. How does the phone feel? Well, great. It's fast. Scrolling and zooming is buttery smooth everywhere, even a in browser full of flash ads. Samsung has done some serious work in the smoothness department and it shows. It's one of the real high points of the phone. Auto rotate is the fastest I've ever seen on an Android phone. So yeah, your friends may pull higher benchmarks than you, but don't worry about it. The phone experience is as fast as you can ask for. It's really a joy to use.

Battery life also is great. I can easily get through a whole day. And the Super AMOLED Plus screen gives you the option of blacking out everything for even more battery life. (Black AMOLED pixels take no power) So if you're concerned, grab a black wallpaper and find some modded, blacked out apps for serious battery life.

wm_SAM_1078

Marketing might want to have a word with Qualcomm.

Network performance is great, when you can get a signal. HSPA+  will deliver speeds around 9mbs down and 1mbs up at a sub 100ms ping - at least it does in my area. The problem is getting a signal. I usually use Pandora for music in my car, and while AT&T and Verizon can handle that with no problem, T-Mobile just can't. For me, the network was just spotty all over. Music skipped and sometimes I was driving in total silence. Very disappointing. Speaking of driving...

The GPS

If you somehow hadn't heard, the first Galaxy S had a bit of a GPS problem. There was a combination of hardware and software problems which made the GPS never really work without some serious hacking. There were petitions, massive forum threads, recall demands, and a million news stories - it was a disaster for Samsung. So are the GPS problems a thing of the past? Let's find out.

From a cold boot, I went outside, fired up GPS Test, waited a few seconds, and took some screenshots:

wm_SC20111008-213712  wm_SC20111008-213717

In short: you can relax; the GPS works great. Satellites start pouring in 2 seconds after you turn GPS Test on, and it'll get to 12 ft accuracy in about 20 seconds. Apps like Google Maps will find your location in about 5 seconds, and Navigation always worked without a hitch. It's a normal, working GPS.

The Camera

20111011_125627 20111011_124551 20111011_124303 20111011_130248

An AMOLED screen puts you in a bit of a predicament when taking pictures. They look beautiful on the phone, because the vibrancy is so over the top. But you will be very disappointed when you view them again on a computer. You want an accurate view screen when you take pictures; nothing more, nothing less. AMOLED is just awful for judging the lighting, you always think the lighting is way better than it really is.

I also cannot stand the camera lens placement. Most phones have the camera at the top corner of the phone, so you can hold it and not obscure the camera lens. The GSII has the lens smack in the top center, so if you hold the phone horizontally with a normal grip, you're going to cover the lens or reflect the flash back into the camera.

TouchWiz Is My Candy-Coated Nightmare

Oh god. The software. It hurts.

In fact, to help you share in my pain, I'm going to TouchWiz skin this article. Hold on... **TouchWiz!** Ok I'll stop now, you get the idea. While Google is moving more towards a monotone (or at least color coordinated) theme, Samsung goes for full-on eyeball shock and awe. Every color that could be used has been used.

Your display is high contrast, Samsung, I get it! Pack in a pretty demo video or something, don't make the entire phone feel like Computing in Candy Land.

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COLOR ALL THE THINGS

Maybe it's a combination of colorizing everything and the hyper vibrant AMOLED screen, but the whole package comes across as unpleasant. It's childish. I don't like it.

I guess I'll start with the lock screen. It's the big, pink, streaky thing above. The notification unlocks are very cool - you can jump right to a text or phone call when you have a notification. Only texts and phone calls though. Gmail and Google Talk don't work. Unlocking it is... difficult. It doesn't give you a direction to swipe, you can just kind of do it anywhere. The pink layer reveals your home screen when you move it. It's exactly like moving around a Photoshop layer. The hard part about it is the unnaturally long swipe distance required for an unlock. The standard lock screen clears after around a 40% screen distance swipe. Touchwiz requires something like 80%. In the picture above, swiping from the colon all the way to the right isn't good enough, you have to start around the middle of the "7" for it to unlock. I whiff the unlock all the time because I don't drag it far enough. After a day or so I decided it was a totally unnatural movement and installed NoLock.

wm_SC20111009-180111 wm_SC20111009-213538 wm_SC20111009-213830

The app drawer, editing the app drawer, and the app drawer's list view

The home screen is very basic. You get a dock and some icons. None of the stock widgets are scrollable, and it doesn't support 3rd party scrolling. You are allowed to rearrange the horizontal app drawer to your liking, and if you're really a masochist there's a list view that shows 6 items at a time. I won't spend much time on this because I feel like 90% of people reading this will replace the stock launcher. It's serviceable, but nothing special.

wm_SC20111009-231108 wm_SC20111009-231428 wm_SC20111009-231126

Samsung has added tilt gestures to the home screen, browser, and gallery. There is no subtlety here. You need to make big, sweeping movements for anything to register. Doing this in public will certainly get you some funny looks. Luckily the response time is so slow, you will never be tempted to start waving your phone around like a Wii controller in a public place.

The zooming gesture is very strange, if you are going to put two fingers on the screen, pinch zoom is much faster and more precise. If you don't like pinch zoom, you also have a zoom button. What problem are they trying to solve here?

"Panning" is for moving an icon between homepages. I'll admit that can be a little difficult currently, but the motion version isn't any better. A zoomed out view of all your homepages would be much easier.

wm_SC20111007-203830  wm_SC20111007-203846

I really like the camera app. Anything would be better than the stock Gingerbread app (which hasn't been updated since 2.0), but this is nice in its own right. Across the top you get four customizable shortcuts to camera settings. The left picture is your choice of shortcuts for the four boxes. It looks nice and works nice. Thumbs up.

wm_SC20111009-230820  wm_SC20111008-192801

The poor Gallery. It's based on the original N1 gallery, which is great because it syncs Picasa and G+ pictures, but Samsung got ahold of it and packed it with garbage. The menu in the right picture literally scared me when it popped up. I mean it -- I jumped a little. This menu is supposed to have about five items on it. I did not expect Samsung to somehow triple it. That's impressive. A quick rundown:

  • "Edit" sounds really interesting doesn't it? It brings up the bundled photo editor. You get filters, saturation, contrast, crop, cut and paste, zoom, fill, marquee select -- a really nice suite of tools. Except marquee doesn't let you select in a square -- only circles. I'm not kidding. The other tools are pretty useless without a good select tool.
  • "Print" pops up in a couple spots on the phone, but you need a Samsung printer to use it.
  • "Motion" is the same silly dowsing rod maneuver from the home screen.
  • "Set Default Destination" is completely mystifying to me. The option pops up in every view, whether a picture is selected or not. Touching it brings up a menu with Contacts, New Email Address, and New Phone Number. At first I thought it would funnel every new picture to the selected location, like G+ Instant Upload, but it's had my email for a few days and none of the 100s of pictures have made it to my inbox. I'd love to hear your theories in the comments.
  • Share via, Send via, AND Send to. Bravo. You can't make this stuff up, folks. Different apps are in different menus, I think one is for stock apps and one is third party apps. Good luck remembering which is which.

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Samsung included a couple useful apps in a "Utility" folder in the app drawer. You get a to do list, calculator, note pad, and diary. For the most part they are very pretty. I wish the rest of the phone looked like this.

Crapware

wm_SC20111009-180426  wm_SC20111009-180749

27... Twenty-seven pieces of crapware. Two are uninstallable. The rest you have to keep forever. It's such a bizarre collection of apps to force upon someone, too. Lookout will always be installed on your phone. So will Netflix, whether you subscribe or not, and a game called Asphalt 6, which I can't play unless I download another HALF A GIG worth of game.

"Apps that download more apps" is kind of a general theme. Would you like to check out the "T-Mobile Mall"? Perhaps you'd like to browse the "Bonus Apps" widget? It's like crapware Inception.

There's also duplication of Stock Android functionality. Telenav GPS, when Google Maps is vastly superior. Something called "Bilo" (a book downloader) when it already comes with Google Books. Qik Video Chat instead of Google Talk Video Chat (you get the old version).

They put an icon for "Accounts and Sync" in the app drawer. You're going to use that the first week you have the phone and never use it again. Leave it in settings where it belongs.

This phone is going to need some industrial-strength Root.

Bugs

Not everything is perfect in Candy Land. Samsung, in its zeal to screw with every bit of software on this phone, has managed to introduce some bugs. Bugs that no one in Q/A paid attention to.

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H...Hey! Phone! I want to change the brightness... Hello?

Occasionally the brightness just greys out and won't let me change it. I can't think of any good reason I should ever be locked out of the brightness control, so I'm filing this under bugs. The browser also has a screen brightness setting in the menu (why?), which Samsung has added, so they've been caught red-handed on this one. The weirdest part is that the brightness display will light back up if I plug the phone in, and it seems to happen more often at low power (though it also happens at other times). Don't call it a power saving feature though, because, 1) boy, that would be annoying, and 2) it doesn't turn the brightness down or do anything for power savings. It will happily lock you out at max brightness and blaze down a low battery.

While we're on the subject, can I talk about the auto brightness? It's broken. The SGSII is about half as bright on auto brightness as any other phone on auto brightness. There's a big difference between "I would prefer it to be brighter" and "Hey, this is broken." It jumps to the lowest brightness setting in a fully lit room. That's broken. There doesn't seem to be anything physically broken; the sensor works. A flashlight or the sun will get it to its brightest setting -- the calibration is just way off. On auto brightness the screen looks dull and ugly. Looking at it is very uncomfortable and causes eye strain. Pray for a patch, or don't use auto brightness.

The gallery: Props for including the (sort of) stock gallery and all. It's very nice to sync my G+ pictures. But they forgot to put a frame limiter on the animations. They all run at about 10x normal speed and just looks silly. Silly and broken. I appreciate a show of power as much as the next guy, but I've started to hum Yakety Sax whenever I use it.

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Above: Angry Galaxy S II owners. Note the lack of an uninstall option.

Oh and hey fellas, when you based your hacked-up turbo-gallery on the Nexus One gallery, you forgot to change the package name. Out of the box the market thinks I have "Gallery 3D" installed. Not an official version, It's a hack owned by some dude named "Rayman50" and, oh yeah, it's uninstallable. It sure would suck if he got wind of this and decided to offer a malicious update.

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..What?

Items in the notification bar have a dark background. Normally items have a light background. Apps are supposed to adjust for this but many do not. So frequently you end up with dark text on a dark background. Sure, you could say this isn't Samsung's fault, but the fact that Pandora, the 4th most popular Android app, doesn't support dark backgrounds means you probably should stick to the regular color scheme. What's really inexcusable though, is that some of the bundled apps don't support a dark background. The picture to the right is Slacker Radio; it came with the phone. I know what you're thinking: Just squint really hard, right? Not really, here's the Deadmau5 notification after a trip through Photoshop:

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I bet you thought it was only 2 lines of text...

The Bottom Line

It's fast, sturdy and beautifully designed, but it has the DPI of a Lite-Brite. Touchwiz is an ugly mess. There's a few bugs that need to be worked out. Root is a requirement because of the amount of crapware.

This phone is the last of a generation. Ice Cream Sandwich is right around the corner, bringing with it buttonless phones and 720p screens. The US launch of the GSII was delayed for many months and its age is starting to show. If only this was for sale six months ago. Today, it's very hard to recommend.

Pros

  • Beautiful design. Thin, sturdy, and made with wonderful feeling materials.
  • Fast with buttery smooth scrolling and zooming.
  • A giant, beautiful Super AMOLED Plus screen.
  • Very crisp and surprisingly pleasant haptic feedback.

Cons

  • Worst in-class DPI. Everything is huge. Apps show less information than on other phones. You need to zoom in further than you would think to comfortably read web pages.
  • Doesn't sit flat on a table. It incessantly rocks back and forth when you try use it.
  • No notification light. Why?
  • Automatic Brightness is darker than other phones, and occasionally you get locked out of the brightness settings.
  • 80 Metric tons of non-removable crapware.
  • Touchwiz 4.0 is ugly and childish, and, like a child, it will sometimes break things.

If you somehow aren't yet sick of reading about this thing, I'm holding a Q&A in the comments section! Ask me anything. No fun stuff though, I'm not allowed to root it.

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.
  • brendon

    To change the brightness first you must disable the auto-brightness

    • Ron Amadeo

      The brightness slider and the auto brightness checkbox are both behind the greyed out "Brightness" option.

      • Jon Garrett

        thanks for ruining my eagerness to get the AT&T S2 so lemme ask you.

        the problems you described, are these with the T mobile phone only or does the AT&T version have the same issues.

        please let me know as I am only a few days away from switching from my iPhone 4 to the Galaxy S2

        • Ron Amadeo

          I don't have access to the AT&T one so I'm not really sure.

          My guess would be that all the Touchwiz problems would persist across all devices.

          The AT&T variant has a smaller 4.3 inch screen, so the DPI won't be as bad.

          My advice is to not do ANYTHING until we hear more about the Nexus Prime (or Galaxy Nexus, or whatever it's called). It should be out in a few weeks. It will make all this stuff obsolete.

          Buying a GSII today is equivalent to buying an iPhone 4 now. The next model is right around the corner. Just wait.

        • http://www.firstdove.com Christian M. Z

          I have the international SGS II variant, and it didn't have any of the bugs mentioned in the article. Might still be a U.S. variant thing though.

        • lanciadeltarat1

          WTF I can't believe ron goes on to say that this phone will be obsolete when the prime comes out.OBSOLETE,look it up in the dictionary ron.Is this what you really think,seriously?Betamax video recorders are obsolete

        • lanciadeltarat1

          Seriously my friend,don't take much notice of this review.Go and read some other reviews.I've had the phone a while now and i've not had one problem and reading this makes me think he's not talking about the same phone.Everything is over exaggerated,like the phone rocking,You have to press a lot more than you normally would to make it do that.

  • http://denh.am DrMacinyasha

    Try using a wired headset. In-line control buttons probably don't work. How about long-pressing menu to hide/show the keyboard? Oh, and see if you can enable Search History in Google Goggles. All three big issues in the E4GT I tried to report to Samsung.

    • Ron Amadeo

      I came with a wired headset with buttons, I'll have to try it later, I don't have it with me right now.

      Menu long press does NOT work. You're right.

      Search history in Goggles works. Pictures taken with the camera end up in history and it has my history from other phones.

      • Carl L

        Do you still think one should wait for the Galaxy Nexus?

  • URABUS0924

    Isn't the Brightness disabled because you have Auto Adjust Screen Power enabled?

    • Ron Amadeo

      Nope. I tried that. And right now it's on and the brightness is changeable.

  • TOMMMMMM

    If the GS2 WAS QHD, I would sell my soul for it... the dpi really kills it for me, I'll either snag an EVO 3D off Craigslist, or wait for my upgrade in May.

  • MDT

    Nice review. Thanks. I don't feel so bad about holding onto my SGS Vibrant now.

  • Vinny

    Funny, seems all other opinions on this device were great, seems like Ron has a problem with maybe the carrier. I think this is a stellar device. I guess you can always look towards the next device. I have used this phone, I agree the objects and the print is large, I like it that way. Some people are never happy, I would bet he is using one of those I-Phones, the phone that tells you what and where you can go and use. You know the Robot phone, for people who need to be told how to live.

    • Jose

      I think he was telling it like it is.

      It seems you can't accept that an Android phone got a negative review and therefore, need to claim the author of being an iPhone (FTFY) user to try and insinuate that they're somewhat bias.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

        Agreed. I think the bigger websites tend to have more bias when reviewing the phones because if they are too critical and upset the carriers or the manufacturers, they won't get those nifty review units before launch.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

    I laughed through this whole review (a good thing). Perfect review for consumers. Got the info that matters to them. The hackers will hack and the mess that is TouchWiz will be gone soon enough.

    I will just stick with my soon-to-be Nexus WhateverYouWantToCallItToday on Verizon.

    • Ron Amadeo

      Thanks!

      Yeah, stock Android would fix a lot of problems.

      • bt1138

        Great Review. It makes me happy to have a Nexus S.

        I don't mind the slightly low specs of the S - it is WAY preferable to living with the crapware that this review trashes for all to see.

  • JohnE

    Dell Streak 5" at 800x480 is the worst DPI. I've used it as my primary phone for 1.5yrs. TBH I had no problem with this resolution, trick is to set the DPI in build props.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

      Changing the ppi in the build.prop is a good solution, but not flawless. First it requires root and know-how and second it can cause issues with apps displaying (if they are not built for the screen res) and can even prevent apps from being compatible in the market.

      This is just saying that this screen is too big at that resolution, and I would agree. I felt things were too big at 4.3" at 480x854 on my X. That said, I always had my Droid X at 180 instead of 240.

      • JohnE

        agreed, I just got a GS2 but as soon as Galaxy Nexus is avail its mine. I was going to set it at 180 or 200 ... awesome

  • TOMMMMMM

    Yes, adjusting the build prop makes things smaller, but in doing so, it lowers the DPI even more.

  • AshR

    Is the DPI of this T-mobile's GSII different from Sprint's or AT&T?? If they are the same, then GSII by itself sucks! Correct?

    • Ron Amadeo

      Sprint and T-Mobile have a 4.52 inch screen. AT&T and the international version are 4.3 inches, so the DPI is a little better.

      There is a "Galaxy S II HD LTE" float out there internationally, which has a 4.65 inch 720p Screen. I bet that thing is awesome.

      • JohnE

        wow, that smells of "Galaxy Nexus"!!!

      • lanciadeltarat1

        So ron,the galaxy nexus has the same rocking issue,so that means you're not gonna get one.Like you said it's a deal breaker. LOL LLLLOL

  • Jim

    Great honest review Ron. I appreciate the time you put into this. As many sites have said similar things, it's nice to hear your nit picking at things that do actually matter to the normal user. I'm baffled at how awful the new TouchWiz looks. Your words described it perfectly. And the bloatware....let's just sum that up with: HAH.

  • David Ruddock

    This review is a bit harsh.

    The GSII is aging, that's for sure. The large display does have iPhone 3GS levels of pixel density. And I agree that the wobbling on a flat surface would drive me nuts.

    But if it performs like any GSII I've used, then all of that loses a lot of relevancy. It's worth noting, of course - and it's good to provide that information, people want to know about flaws, of which any smartphone objectively has a baker's dozen - and subjectively a hundred more.

    But the GSII has been critically lauded for its performance, near-as-anyone-has-gotten-to-iPhone rear camera photo quality, great battery life, extremely vivid display, and extremely svelte dimensions. These are hard to ignore as "pros" that put this phone over every other device on T-Mobile.

    T-Mobile customers probably won't even get the Galaxy Nexus / Nexus Prime at launch, and this will probably remain the best device in their lineup during the holiday season.

    The GSII is the closest any Android device has come to matching Apple's silky-smooth UI, amazing battery life, and stellar camera. Let's not knock it for age so dismissively. Bloatware? There's definitely some, but take a look at any other non-Nexus device on Verizon, and this is by far the lesser of many evils out there.

    Consumers have a dozen (I'm guessing) choices for Android phones over at T-Mobile, and it would be foolhardy to say this isn't the best among them, and I wouldn't hesitate in suggesting it's by no small margin the GSII earns that title. Many T-Mobile customers stay there because they like the cheap service, or live in an area where T-Mobile has superior coverage to Sprint.

    We all love to look forward to new products, but let's not forget to live in the here and now, and at this moment, I see no reason *not* to suggest the GSII to a T-Mobile customer searching for a new phone.

    • Duffin

      I completely disagree. All of the cons listed in the article are deal-breakers for me, so i don't think you have any right to say that it would be 'foolhardy' to say it's not the best. I'm not going to go through all the cons again, but TouchWiz and the bloatware alone is enough to make me avoid this phone. That, and it's a Samsung phone. They've made it clear they only care about getting phones into people's hands. If they break or have defects after that, they couldn't care less.

      Me, I'm likely to leave T-Mobile rather than settle for another crappy Samsung phone. i bought the Nexus S the day it came out and have seriously come to regret that decision over the past couple months.

      So, I say again, just because you might not care about the problems it has doesn't make it clearly better than any other T-Mobile phone.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

    Ron I think I noticed an error in the Cons. "80 Metric tons of uninstallable crapware." to me would indicate you could uninstall it. Just thought you may want to update that for those that don't really read the rest of the article. And then you can delete this message too if you want. And I will say again I like the honesty.

    • Ron Amadeo

      Ha, good catch. Un-uninstallable.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

        Lol usually telling the police they are wrong does not go so smoothly. xD

  • MedioGringo

    I think you just single-handedly convinced me to go for the Nexus Prime over the SGS3. Jesus what a bunch of crapware. I do hate the way touchwiz looks as well.

    However, this review is a bit of a bitch fest. You're moaning about the camera, but this image looks DAMN good! http://cdn.androidpolice.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/20111011_124551.jpg

    That's as good as any samples we've seen from the iphone 4s, and I bet you're not even a professional photographer.

    • Ron Amadeo

      I never said it was bad, just it's hard to accurately judge what your picture will really look like. I'm not an expert on pictures so i went out of my way not to judge them. You are meant to form your own opinion.

      The disappointment comes from the huge difference between the colors on the phone display and everything else. The OLED is super colorful, but that color is inaccurate.

      I really have no way to convey how much better (or at least, different) that picture looks on the OLED screen.

      • lanciadeltarat1

        Samsung could change the back piece no problem and if they don't,i'm sure someone out there will.I'm sure it would be easier than a case to design.A nice money maker for someone.

  • Chris

    This is much more thorough than Engadget's review. I definitely laughed during the crap ware section. Samsung is already differentiated by their unique hardware, I don't know why they just can't leave the UI alone. I wonder why manufacturers and carriers don't make everything uninstallable, including touchwhiz?

    • Jim

      $$$$$$$$$$
      :(

    • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

      Not making fun of you, but seeing it spelled Touchwhiz makes me think of CheeseWhiz and Pat's Philly Steak Sandwiches. Can I get my SGSII "wit-out whiz"? lol

      That said, that would be awesome, but seeing as TouchWiz is an integrated part of the OS, Samsung would literally have to make 2 builds. If they were to make it an installable skin like it was on the Tab 10.1, then it would be better, but I doubt that will happen since the majority of users buy the phones based on the features of the OS (and what the manufacturer did to it) over plain Android. We are in the minority here, by far.

    • Ron Amadeo

      Glad to hear it made you laugh. =D
      That's why i'm excited for the Prime (or whatever it'll be called), Samsung Hardware, Google Software. The perfect combo.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

        Now if we could let Motorola assemble it and use Motorola radios it would be perfect. I am not the biggest fan of Samsung build quality, but these are better than the original SGS line. I just don't like cheap feeling phones. Motorola doesn't leave the camera sticking out the back to make phones unstable on a table. They don't feel like cheap plastic (for the most part they are not plastic). None of that will discourage me from the Droid Galaxy Nexus Prime HD or whatever it is called. I may want a new RAZR too though.

        • Ron Amadeo

          My daily driver is a Motorola Atrix. The GSII feels way more solid and expensive (other than the table thing). There's no cheap plastic, just the sextacular faux-leather backing. I'm a little jealous.

          Samsung's hardware team has grown up. The Touchwiz team still sits in the corner and eats glue, but that won't be a problem with the Prime.

        • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

          I agree Ron. I played with the Sprint SGSII and it is way better than the SGS, but it still felt flexible to me. Like it creaks when you use it. Still a marked improvement though. Moto metal phones just feel solid though. And they are pretty damn durable. The Atrix is not one of their highlights in manufacturing. I don't like the Droid 3 or Bionic plastic backs either. Droid 1&2 and the X & X2 are some of the sturdiest built phones I have ever used.

          As for TouchWiz I wouldn't even want to see it on a Chumby.

  • lanciadeltarat1

    I'm feeling a bit sorry for you guys in the U.S.
    The device we have in the U.K has none of the issues that have been described and T.mobile saw fit not to fill the trunk with junk...

  • Paul

    Excellent review. That is all.

  • sean

    Hey Ron, will you be doing a review like this one of the Amaze 4G soon? That's the one i'm looking forward too.

  • EToE

    oh... that sounds really sad.. in germany we got almost none of your problems.

    Still i think your review is not objectively enough. It just sounds like you did not want to like this phone, as you always say: you better wait for the nexus prime.

    For example you say that pics were not as vibrant as you expected. Of course it is like that. Amoled does oversature colours, your computer display does not.
    So, in fact, it is not possible to get a accurate view of the picture on your phone! In addition, you did not review the quality of the cam. In a review, i want to know, how the cam's quality is. You missed this point here!

    Furthermore i dont think you are right with Touchwiz. Why is it childish because it uses colours? I do love the fact, that samsung uses many colours. Its the nature of amoled. Blacks on blues. If you dont like the pink, its ok - takes you one second to replace it. No need to hate it though! The german Stiftung Warentest for example mentioned that the UI of the Xoom sucks, as the screen might be brighter than the iPads, but its just too dark, so it even looks worse!

    I am missing a review of the sound quality, too. You just didnt cover up everything a review should have.

    i think it sounds better if you say "it might look too childish to people".

    In overall, your review is great, and i dont want to deny that you did a great job here. But you sound too angry. Why is NFC no Pro? Battery life should be a pro, too. Dont say, that its not important enough for the Pro/con end. Its really more or as important as "doesnt sit flat on the table".

    In my opinion, it is T-Mobile that you hate here. My GS2 does not have any of your problems (ok, no notification). No bugs, no problems with auto-brightness or crapware.

    You forgot to review the whole phone, but only focused on problems. "I want a camera button" is a negative beginning, which just is not objective enough.

    Maybe i just cant understand what this device really feels like. For me, the SGS2 is the non-plus-ultra device at the moment.

    Does only the tmobile gs2 have these problems? Would you say, that this device is really as bad as it sounds in your review? Is it normal, that you review things in your sight and not by a formula?! Maybe i just got something wrong..

    Sorry for my english, im tired. Hope you got what i wanted to say.

    • lanciadeltarat1

      Totally agree,same in the uk..

  • wackadroid

    wow. what a disaster. the tilting of the phone on a flat surface is a deal breaker by itself. once you add in the crapware and the coloring book touchwiz it just turns absolutely dreadful. EPIC FAIL

    • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

      The phone not laying flat issue is one that Samsung really needs to address. Everyone gives Motorola crap for the hump on their phones, but at least it lays flat and doesn't scratch up the camera lens on the table. Come on already, Samsung. I will take an extra mm in thickness if you make the phone useful on a table.

  • marshall

    So that's all i needed to read, it looks like the Amaze is my next phone...

  • Me262

    You can change the lock screen and wallpaper to anything you like. It's under Home - Menu - Settings - Display.

    You can also set up an App Folder for the T-Mobile apps so you never have to see them again. You will still have nearly 2GB for apps.

    • JayMonster

      You can also put a decent Launcher on there like Laucher Pro and hide them (so you don't even need to see the folder), but the fact is there is no reason for them to be there in the first place.

      Just like VZW and putting VZ Navigator on Android phone... WHY? Because they are hoping to rope in the stupid that try it once, and then forget that they are paying $9 a month for something they probably aren't even using any longer... and in the meantime, we get stuck having to sort through this junk.

      /soapbox

  • Bart

    I love this phone BUT... the ppi density for the screen ruins it! This could be the "ultimate phone" if it weren't for the crappy resolution!

  • Tommy

    While the DPI is "low" the screen is still very crisp, clear, and coloful. Even compared to some qHD screens it's clearer.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

      Clearer or not, it feels like setting my 25" monitor to VGA. That big of a screen should not require everything be HUGE. (Based on seeing the Sprint SGSIIE4GT...BS...WELITAITN with the same screen)

  • Me262

    Also...
    Tap Home - Menu - Settings - Display. You can also set the saturation lower from that menu.

  • jake

    Favorite line in the review
    "It's like crapware Inception" hahaha nice

  • JayMonster

    "Auto rotate is the fastest I've ever seen on an Android phone."

    Well sure... when you only have to rotate a couple of dozen pixels, of course it will be quick.

    "but the fact that Pandora, the 4th most popular Android app, doesn't support dark backgrounds means you probably should stick to the regular color scheme"

    I never defend Samsung in their poor decisions, but I don't think this is one of them. Pandora may be the 4th popular app (though after the spotify release I wonder how many of those downloads are still actually in use), but that doesn't exempt them from poor UI choices.

    But seriously though, this is the best and most thourough review I have seen yet for one of the GSII brood. Rather than the rah rah that has normally been done you have done a great job of highlighting the good, the bad and the TouchWiz.

    I don't necessarily agree with everything, and I am sure some of your detractions will get some heat from GSII fans... but when both fans of the phone and detractors both have qualms... you know you have done a good balanced review. Nicely done.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

      lol @ the good, the bad and the TouchWiz

  • ns

    When your eyes hit 50 years old, you might appreciate the lower resolution on a larger screen. Remember this in a couple of decades. Of course by then the information will be beamed direct to your cerebral cortex by sharks with laser beams on their heads...

    • Ron Amadeo

      My eyes are terrible NOW. I've had glasses since I was 6. Nothing wrong with going and getting the right prescription. =P
      I am totally ready to have these things scooped out and replaced with lasers or whatever the future holds.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

      Very true, however I feel this should be an option for the user to set. If you want things bigger it should be an option. Without rooting and modifying build.prop.

  • man

    Yo Ron you gotta do a review on the amaze if you haven't already, and I respect and appreciate this review, you kept it 100

    Don't stop or change

  • Mike

    Very nice review. I appreciate all the little nitpicking, as that is something a normal user would experience. I never saw half this stuff said about this phone on other sites. Knowledge is power!

  • mr.highway

    Is this phone worth upgrading from a rooted mt4g. I always heard this phone, was suppose to be great, but now it looks like it's just another Samsung phone. Except for being the gs2,the sprint version looks amazing compares to the tmo version.

  • mr.highway

    Is this phone worth upgrading from a rooted mt4g. I always heard this phone, was suppose to be great, but now it looks like it's another Samsung phone,in my opinion.

  • http://www.theandroidsite.com Ben Marvin

    So once it's rooted and gets CM7 or another stock ROM it should be a really decent phone. I have yet to see the DPI issue in person, but I can deal with the no notification LED and not sitting flat on a table.

  • ns

    A sad reality of getting older is that my still 20/20 vision just doesn't work close up. So the only thing I need glasses for is reading small text close up. I avoid it when possible - and having to don glasses to use the phone blows. I am actually swapping an HTC Sensation for the GS2 due to the size of the system fonts. With the Galaxy I can use the phone easily without reading glasses. The HTC...not so much. That ends up being a deal-killer. I'll deal with the other Samsung atrocities :-D

    • Hojardydeejon

      Thanks for that friend. I'm looking into the GS2 for the same reason. I'm struggling to see my HTC Desire. Time for a change I think...

  • Andrew – Des Moines

    The DPI on my 4.25" AT&T version is tolerable. I played with the Sprint phone at Best Buy and noticed my thumb did not comfortably reach the far side of the screen -- it was too big. Samsung made a killing on this phone and has responded by making high-end, cutting edge phones a priority. The GSII will sell well in the States, but I am sure Sammy will be smart enough to see how much money they left on the table by not getting the phone out sooner. As with the GPS fix and the early sample phones given to developers, Samsung has shown they are adept at learning from past mistakes and improving. That is why they are the best. And they will prove it when the Nexus Prime comes out --once and for all showing the world that the FruitFone (for at least another year) is far from the top position it once held with authority.

    • http://www.teslamotors.com Down8

      "Samsung has shown they are adept at learning from past mistakes and improving."

      Let me know when the Vibrant has an official Gingerbread release & the GPS is fixed.... Further, let's see if any of the GS2 phones get ICS - my money's on a solid "Haha, no f'in' way!" from Sammy.

      I'm skipping the Prime, simply b/c I don't want Samsung to have even a sliver of my money. I'll go for the Amaze & wait for Googlrola to put out the Double Prime.

      -bZj
      #NeverAgain

  • Raj

    thats the problem with android when compared to Apple, of course android include some gr8 features which apple may not provide but still the user cant make out the way he want.

    No Software updates.
    All Bloatware
    Unsolved Bugs and Issues

    • lanciadeltarat1

      Say hi when you arrive back on this planet

  • vibe4ever

    Enjoyed reading the review and most of the comments. I'm still using the original iPhone killer, the Vibrant. I'm rooted and running a custom rom. Although this phone is yesterdays news, I see no reason to get rid of it anytime soon. I love the 16 gigs of internal storage and the external expandable up to 32 gigs. Not giving that up! And this phone has never felt 'cheap'. Just because the back is plastic?

  • watbetch

    this article is sensationalized.

    First of all Touchwiz is not that colorful, there are a few touches here and there but it's not nearly as dramatic as it was with the previous generation of TouchWiz. It's SuperAMOLED, of course all of the colors are be saturated, it's still not due to TouchWiz. If you actually run the numbers on what TouchWiz changes and colorizes you come up with very few extra colorized things over stock.

    Secondly, the DPI on PenTile panels is actually much lower due to the submatrix. Things look fuzzy on those phones even though the resolution is higher ala Atrix and DROID 3/Bionic.

    Even in your comparison picture, the difference in the GMail app is minimal

    also, your T-Mobile service sucks around Thousand Oaks and Westlake Village etc. because of your local community blocking their tower applications. They just got one approved in Agoura Hills after a lawsuit I believe. Besides, take a trip 7 miles down the 101 and AT&T service is garbage. There isn't even an AT&T signal to be had inside of certain parts of Calabasas where I had good T-Mobile service.

    • JohnE

      you just got served (mr.author)

    • Ron Amadeo

      You're taking the "defense of Touchwiz" position? Really?
      Touchwiz is ugly, childish looking, and the color scheme even breaks some things. I don't see how you can call it a positive over the stock look. All the icons are more colorful and childish looking, and like I said in the review, AMOLED probably adds to this. And design is not about numbers.

      The Atrix was used to demonstrate what a higher resolution gets you: more stuff on the screen. It served it's purpose. Pentile is stupid in it's own right. The problem with the GSII is that everything is comically large. You could be seeing so much more on a screen that big and still have everything be a reasonable size. It's a waste.

      I live in New Jersey, not California, how did you come to that conclusion? The local service quality really isn't relevant to anyone. That's why I included phrases like "for me" and "in my area".

      I provided proof of the majority of my criticisms. I don't see how you can cry sensationalism. Opinions about ugliness are just that. If the candy land thing is your style, go for it.

  • lanciadeltarat1

    LISTEN UP GUYS!
    If you pass on comments from this review,please make sure you mention that you are talking about the american version.The european version thankfully dose not have many of these issues and it would be wrong to mislead people.
    Your review while interesting did not sound impartial.I could very much tell that you are waiting like a salivating dog for the nexus and it's as if you're growling at anything that gets in the way of it.I suggest you get yourself a bone for now...

    • Ron Amadeo

      LOL. I like this comment. woof.

  • azumihk

    maybe u dont like touch wiz 4 but i sure do like it, much better, more options then 3. overall is very nice indeed.dpi is very nice but me for instance play many games and compare games from galaxy s2 with other phones u see your screen is much brighter.Camera problem i dont know what u are talking also. u say on the pc it looks crap,maybe u should switch monitor instead of blaming the screen from sgs2

    • JayMonster

      So, TouchWiz 4 is less crappy than 3,,, it is still a Fischer Price colored mess.

      DPI has nothing to do with the brightness, ao tbis ia irrelevant

    • JayMonster

      If you can't see the difference between the oversaturation on the GS 2 screen and what displays on your monitor, then you need your monitor calibrated.

  • JohnE

    I purchased the UK version from amazon last week for $5xx.

    -I agree the colors look inaccurate.
    -Battery cover SUCKS! (cheap plastic, very hard to remove)
    -Lightning fast user experience
    -LauncherPro/ADW/etc will quickly fix any touchwiz pain

  • gvittetoe1

    did u root it? this should fix the bloatware problem. I have a rooted vibrant like the guy above with custom rom. I was psyced to get this phone and root and take advantage of the dual core looks like I wont need too.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/brandonjnunn bjn714

      Somewhere he mentioned he wasn't allowed to root the test unit and I think the point is that root should not be needed to remove all the garbage loaded on there. Sure some will root it and that will unlock more potential, but to the average consumer, they just want it to work out of the box. Being told you can't remove apps and advertising on your phone is not cool. Carriers should not be allowed to install anything to /system/apps.

  • Simon

    FYI.The Manual brightness is disabled when you get <10% to save some battery.. it aint no bug or anything.

    • Ron Amadeo

      Save battery by locking it to max brightness?

      You'd have to lock brightness and also set the brightness to a low setting. That's not what happens.

      Also that would be terrible. It's my battery. I can burn it down if I want to.

  • john

    Unless I've missed it, there was no mention of WiFi performance. Some UK owners have expressed dismay at the ability of the S2 to pick up a strong WiFi signal. How was this one in that department?

    • JohnE

      oh crap! thats exactly what happened to me. I had very very bad signal on my 802.11a network. I would lose signal on the same floor just a few rooms away. And i'm running the latest Asus dual-band rt-n54u which boasts powerful transmits. The 802.11n (2.4ghz) wasn't horrible but still sucks :(

      • Ron Amadeo

        Why would you run an "a" network?

        • Carl Lopp

          Ron What do you think of the Galaxy Nexus vs. the s II

    • Ron Amadeo

      I have no service at my house, so I've been using WiFi a great deal.

      Everything worked fine. I was doing a good deal of uploads, I must have taken 50 screenshots and a bunch of 12mp pictures that all got sent to dropbox. I wiped it twice, so that meant pounding the phone with the usual 30+ app download once I logged in. It all worked fine.

      What is supposed to be wrong with WiFi? Poor range? Poor speed? Disconnections? No connections?
      Are these problems constant or intermittent?

      • JohnE

        I was sitting 2ft from my wifi router in my office and my phone went off wifi to gsm for a minute, then back. I knew this because I was using a http daemon to browse my phone. It shocked me. I've also had range issues. I have the international GSII. The wifi chip is 802.11abgn which is AWESOME to have 802.11a but I'm afraid the antenna suck or the drivers are buggy.

  • http://tantrajnaan.com Robert Dunn

    That was the best review I've read in a really long time. Totally honest and entirely fun to read. Maybe a little excess on the ranting, but that made it even more fun to read. I will strive to write reviews as good as this was.
    The phone's not have bad either. I'm still waiting for the Prime.

  • Greyhame

    I am with VZW, not a chance I get this phone. But I actually read the entire thing cause it was humorous and kept me entertained. Nicely done!

    That said, there are some serious issues with this phone. I think it's time Android OEMs slow down and focus on user experience versus plugging a new phone every month. I'm surprised that more manufacturers haven't adopted the one world phone idea, so much less to support! Seems to me it would solve at least some of the issues of fragmentation Android suffers from. Not what I expected from Samsung, especially with their new "focus on software."

    • JayMonster

      Just look at the replies and you see why manufacturers don't adopt the iDiotic 1 year, 1 Phone, mentality.

      Look back, go ahead... there are just as many defenders of this phone as their are detractors.

      How would you feel if this was the only option available from Samsung? Pretty let down, right? Look how many people do and don't like the Bionic, and on VZW, you were stuck waiting a year for this thing. Not pleasant, right?

      Android is about choice. Yes, that means there are tradeoffs, but within those tradeoffs are the ones that are more important to you and less to others, and vice versa. With Android, you can find the phone that fits YOU, and that makes the 1 year, 1 phone philosophy, iWrong.

      As far as Samsung's new "focus on software," that is the problem, it is the same (some say flawed) mantra that HTC and Motorola stated some time ago, that they are "software centric" which just means they are going to pour more money into and be less likely to issue phones without Blur, Sense or TouchWiz.

      • Greyhame

        Who said anything about one phone a year? I mentioned one world phone in this case because if Samsung didn't have all these different versions of this phone, I feel they would be able to make a much more polished user experience.

        Thanks for the lecture on Android and the choices it provides, but it was unnecessary. Having been an avid Android user since purchasing my OG, I'm more than familiar with the ecosystem. I was merely stating my opinion that it would be to the benefit of OEMs to focus more on user experience and less on constantly turning over new phones. I'm sure this device is great, but no one can deny there are some serious flaws with the skin Samsung has applied and the ridiculous amount of bloatware that comes included in this phone. Rooting can and will solve this issue, but not everyone is capable or feels it should be necessary to make the phone enjoyable.

        I do agree with your final statements though. But again, I was making that statement with a focus on user experience. And the stock user experience of this phone looks pretty awful.

        • jaymonster

          I'm sorry i misinterpreted what you were saying. I guess read it differently. I agree that some User Experience elements need fixing, but honestly i think the Yeoman's share should/needs to be done at the kernel level.

          The better the underlying work, the less deep changes the manufacturer's will need to make to "customize" it, and the fewer opportunities for them to screw things up.

          So i guess what i am thinking is that it is Google that needs to slow down and focus on user experience more than the manufacturers.

          Make more sense?

  • Paul

    The problems people report with such a huge display and low pixel density, what would changing the lcd density in the build.prop file do? That'd make pictures crisper right? My G2 had a LCD Density of 240 and I always brought it to 200 as it looked better. So if the SGS2 has such a big screen, why wouldn't I just change the lcd density in the build.prop to set a more appropriate resolution/

    • JohnE

      I agree but I haven't had time to root my phone and chage the density. I'll try 200.

    • JeffFeely

      I have the Infuse which basically has the same screen, and setting the DPI to 200 or 180 makes it AMAZING. There is of course the problem of apps not being compatible (such as the dialer) which causes the buttons in the app to appear all bunched together, but other than that it is well worth it. Oddly enough, in my experience Google has been the worst offender of creating apps that use a fixed vs. relative layout. They only just fixed the market. It used to look horrible.

  • dfinn

    Thanks for the review, glad I waited and didn't pre-order. As it goes I'll take 1 of 3 options. 1 - wait to see how bad they screw up the prime and who gets it 1st.
    2-wait until the price comes down significantly so when I root it I won't feel to bad about it
    3- maybe eat an apple
    Again, your review is very helpful and many people should read this before getting caught up in the hype that led up to the release of the various versions of the S2
    I'm sure by Xmas they'll be giving them away.

  • http://tantrajnaan.com Robert Dunn

    Granted I have not used the phone yet, so I don't actually know that much about it. It worries me a little how much the commenter are afraid of this phone now because of this review. I don't want to say it was a bad review because it was an excellent one, but maybe it should be "toned down" a little. Some of the bad points mentioned in the review were possibly over-emphasized such as the rocking the phone has when it is sitting on a flat surface. These types of things need to be pointed out for sure, but not quite that much. What I'm saying is that most phones out there have little problems like this, but the way this article is worded makes the Galaxy SII sound like crap. I'm not trying to make anyone (Ron) angry. I'm just giving some peaceful advice. Again, I have never even touched the GSII

    • JohnE

      I agree. ALL phones have bloatware. My International version does NOT have any wobble problems. It can use it on its back on a table. The pictures is VERY misleading. I can post a picture of what mine looks like.

      I have owned:
      PocketPC
      Moto Razr
      iphone 2g, 3g, 4
      Nexus One
      Dell Streak
      ...etc

      Samsung Galaxy S II is the BEST phone I have ever used to this date.

  • EdB

    When you back away from the computer & all the reviews of high end phones, you'll find that the overwhelming majority of folks won't have a device anywhere near as nice as this one... even 6 months from now. iPhone is playing catch-up & it remains only an app tray. Sure, ICS is coming w/ 720p, but, aside from all of this smack online, they will be rare & this will still be a modern high end device. Most folks don't pay $200 for a phone. This is a wonderful, future-proof device. The DPI isn't noticeable when compared to HTC's Amaze, for example.

  • JayMonster

    OMG... OMG... OMG... He didn't just praise the GSII as a miracle phone?!? How dare he?

    You Samsung fanboys are funny in your defenses of this phone.

    Sure we all have different tastes, different strokes and all that... but so many of you love to trash other people choices and now you get so defensive when it is "your" device that isn't just being lauded regardless of the problems.

    Did I really see somebody trying to defend TouchWiz as "not that Colorful"? That is hysterical! Or liking the idea of 4.62 in WVGA display which is akin to putting 640 x480 on a 21" monitor.

    If Motorola issued something with these specs you'd be mocking them for it. If it was an HTC phone, you'd be talking "fail" but... Instead, I guess you are mesmerized by the Oversaturated mess.

    • SomeGuy

      Wow you really think 800x480 on a 4.52 inch screen is the same as 640x480 on a 21 inch monitor?

      640x480 is lower than 800x480 so 640x480 on a screen 4 times larger than the screen on this Galaxy S2 would defiantly looks worse.. There is no way they are akin to each other.

      Besides resolution is the least important aspect of picture quality and QHD is barely higher in resolution to begin with. It's no where near the jump from 720p to 1080p like we see on TVs and even than there are 720p TVs like the 720p Pioneer Kuro that absolutely destroy most 1080P tvs when it comes to picture quality.

  • John B

    All these reviews seem so biased, as if you favor a certain brand before beginning. Why are there such drastic disparities between reputable reviewers of the same product? One feature so highly praised by one is viewed as a major flaw and already outdated by another. I realize everyone has their preferences, opinions, etc, but there just seems to be something else affecting theses reviews (not just here, I'm not critiquing this one solely). It just makes it hard to for people like me who are not tech gurus to count on professionals to help us distinguish the differences, pros/cons, etc. Guess the only way to do it, is to test and hold it yourself and make you own decision. Of course, if that was the case, why am I even reading this for some type of nugget of information or insight? I understand looking for things to pick apart, test, question, etc. but seems somewhat leading the way the information is presented in this and other reviews. Again, I'm not knocking this review/reviewer but seems like it's so hard to get an objective review of anything.

    • Duffin

      You realize that's what a review is, right? When you read movie reviews, there are people who HATE a movie and people who LOVE a movie. Some people will even hate or love the exact same scene. The nature of a review is to BE biased. If it wasn't, it wouldn't be a review. It would just be a list of hardware and software contained in the phone.

  • John

    Further to my earlier post regarding the poor WiFi on my UK S2, this blog may help to explain (but not resolve) the problem:http://blog.johntankard.co.uk/245/samsung-galaxy-s2-slow-wi-fi/

  • BigBaby

    I got the european version and I have been using this phone for 4 months now. I just want to share a little about my little experience.

    I agree on the differences between what you see on the phone screen and the tv screen, it's true that contrast is much higher on the phone (of course you can just use a picture software) but obviously it has nothing to do with the settings or the quality of the camera itself. Pictures are still great (in good conditions). Thanks to this phone, I don't take my pocket camera any more when I'm on a trip, quality is enough for me.

    About Touchwiz, you can install an alternative launcher, many of them are free, no root needed most of the time. Launcher PRO (free, no root required) allows users to get something like the stock look if they wish to. Combined with Destop Visualizer (free, no root required) you can put you own icons, in every possible size.
    As for Touchwiz quality, it's all a matter of opinion. Personally I appreciate the fact that there aren't too many special effects. I don't really get it about the "too colorful" stuff, may be you find the Touchwiz icons too colorful ?
    Still I think requires a lot of resources given what it is. It's sure no problem on a GSII though.

    Here (with our networks) battery life is enough for one day, may be 2 o 3 it all depends on what you do. But some people have trouble with battery drain, depending on the ROM. As for me, it always remains over 40% when I'm back home in the evening. I charge it every night though. With Li-ion battery what is important is the number of cycles of charge : what many people don't know is a cycle is 100%, it doesn't matter wether you charge it ten times for 10% or twice for 50%, it's still one cycle of charge.
    I measured my phone battery life, it is :
    - 6,5 hours in video play;
    - 20 hours in music play;
    - 6 hours in web browsing (wifi);
    - 5 hours of net browsing (3G, HSPA+)
    - about 10 hours in call;
    - about 250 hours in sleep mode (with all networks turned on).
    Yet it STRONGLY depends on the codecs for video playing. I'd say i goes from 3-4 hours to 9-10 hours. The same for net browsing : obviously it won't be the same if you keep loading dozens of pages (especially with flash) every minute of if you take your time to read text pages.

    As for the DPI, it looks it's not much of an issue with the 4,27 inch screen, even if they could have done better. Anyway it's WAY better and sharper than the iPhone 3GS screen contrary to what I read in the comments, there's no possible comparison.

    That being said, it looks that T-Mobile users are quite infortunate in comparison with (at least) european users. And it's a shame the US get it so late, it's been 6 months since it was first released now.

    PS: sorry for my poor english, hope it's still understable.

  • Mark Anderson

    You and your website are a joke

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

      Care to elaborate on your insightful comment?

  • A-Ham5000

    Fist, let me say what a nice review that was, Ron! I just got this phone a couple days ago, and I'm reasonably happy with it. However, the bloatware MUST GO. Can anyone link me to a website that has a Root that works for this exact (T-Mobile) version of this phone? This website [i]claims[/i] that Root works for this phone, but they don't designate precisely which version.

    http://lifehacker.com/5789397/the-always-up+to+date-guide-to-rooting-any-android-phone

    I am a first-time Android user and therefore a little shy about possibly bricking my $5XX phone because I did it wrong...

    • http://www.pradeepsanyal.com Pradeep

      wait some more time for better roms before rooting s2.

  • http://www.pradeepsanyal.com Pradeep

    pre-factory-installed c***ware has got nothing to do with the phone. uninstall it.

    have owned the s2 for 4 months (not in usa) and love it.

    • JayMonster

      The (non-US) SII is not the same device. While it is certainly based on the same, it is definitely a variation, so it is not really an Apples to Apples comparison.

  • Mrs4444

    Just wondering if you'd had a chance to play with the Galaxy SII skyrocket yet and how it compares to the one you wrote about here?

  • SomeGuy

    I just got this phone and I like it so far. I actually prefer lower DPI on this screen since everything is easy to read from a further distance. I don't have to raise the phone closer to my face in order to see icons, text, etc like some higher res phones.

    The screens resolution may be lower compared to other phones but everything that's displayed on the screen is gorgeous thanks to the deep contrast and color saturation . Resolution is one of the least important aspects of picture quality. Contrast, Color accuracy, and Saturation are more important than screen resolution.. Here's a good article about picture quality..

    http://reviews.cnet.com/hdtv-resolution/
    Article^^^

    "Although resolution separates HDTV from standard-definition TV, it's not as important to overall picture quality as other factors. According to the Imaging Science Foundation, a group that consults for home-theater manufacturers and trains professional video calibrators, the most important aspect of picture quality is contrast ratio the second most important is color saturation, and the third is color accuracy. Resolution comes in fourth, despite being the most-cited HDTV specification."
    Quoted from Article^^^

    Also like to point out that 720p Pioneer Kuru HDTVs were regarded as having the best picture quality 4 or 5 years ago. They beat out all other 1080P tvs when it came to picture quality thanks to their high contrast and color accuracy/saturation. They were finally beat in picture quality by the 1080P Pioneer Kuros 2 or so years later.

    My point is that even with a lower 800x400 res screen the contrast and color accuracy/saturation more than make up for it.

  • Brian

    I have the t mobile Galaxy s2 4g and haven't had any of the problems listed above.
    Stick with your i phone and chill out.

  • animaleyez

    I wonder do yo feel the same way about the phone since the Nexus Prime has come out. The Bloatware is not that obtrusive to me as I haven't rooted because I want the Official ICS update. So I just run a different launcher and Touch wiz is no longer and issue. ADW Launcher EX is my personal favorite. Also given the that All the Galaxy S II's will have ICS how do you think it they will compare then?

  • Dany

    Wow Ron a very comprehensive review. I own this phone and you really have nitpicked on all its bad points. Very honest & blunt review. I would go as far as to say you've put the reviewers from sites like cnet and others to shame. Owners of this phone who find it a great device, will find your review a bit too honest for their liking. So i really hope your honesty is not mistaken for a total bitch fest. Nice job dude!

  • Kool-Aid

    Funny how he says...

    "The only device the T-Mobile GSII can claim DPI victory over is the original Android device."

    Hey guess what? The international version of the Galaxy S2 only has 218 DPI and every USA variation of the S2 has 218 DPI or below so that means every variation of the Galaxy S2 (excluding the S2 HD LTE) can only claim DPI victory over the original android device.. It's not just the T-Mobile version...

    Also how many people use their phone when set down on the table? Everyone I know uses their phone in their hand which is what the phone was designed for. The only people I see use the phone when set down on a table are people that are doing video reviews. Pointless nitpicking on a issue that the majority of people with this phone will never have..

    Sorry to say but this dude just seems like a Samsung Mobile or T-Mobile hater..

    • guest

      i agree! i absolutely love my tmobile galaxy s2! the big screen, the vibrant colors, and everything! sure the ppi isn't great, but when i was comparing the amaze 4g with the gs2 before buying a phone, the gs2's screen blew me away! sure the ppi is less, but the super amoled plus screen makes all the difference. theres a reason why it won the best phone of 2011

    • guest

      i agree! i absolutely love my tmobile galaxy s2! the big screen, the vibrant colors, and everything! sure the ppi isn't great, but when i was comparing the amaze 4g with the gs2 before buying a phone, the gs2's screen blew me away! sure the ppi is less, but the super amoled plus screen makes all the difference. theres a reason why it won the best phone of 2011

  • Afterschool

    so does anybody know what the "set default destination" menu option means in the gallery? 

  • NU’EST

    the "set default destination" was completely mystifying to me too but I figured it out. It sets the default destination for the "send to" option (the option under "slideshow".) So when you have set up a default destination the "send to" option will now read "send to *contact's name*" ... hope this helps!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/AMCBYPBZ5KM6LQLH4WZ6CHRJHM C B

    I just got this Samsung Galaxy S2 3 days ago and the camera sucks. I've played with it to see what settings would work best, but the auto focus is still a problem, the flash doesn't work well, especially on low light settings. I am just frustrated with this phone. My HTC Sensation 4G, which I've had for a year still outperforms this phone. I am about to return this and get the HTC One S. Too bad, I really like the design and storage capacity of this phone.