By >Daimaou - G.G-B
[User Quick Review] The Samsung Galaxy S II
Let’s welcome “The_Lestat” one of many Akihabaranews reader that decided to give us its first impression, or first real user impression on this band New Samsung Galaxy S II. If you are interesting in giving your point of view of the latest gadget released you may own, don’t hesitate to contact us!
After months of anticipation, numerous false starts and problems with customs, the most anticipated gadget of the year (by me at least if not by everyone) eventually arrived at my door:
The box contains the standard fare that you expect when you receive a new handset:
- Micro USB Cable
- Mains Charger
- Quick Start Guide
- Headphones (with 3 earpiece sizes)
The phone itself had an additional protective wrapping to ensure that it arrived in pristine condition.
Upon fully unpacking the phone my initial thoughts were omg this is light (then I realized that I had not inserted the battery , feeling a little sheepish I added the battery and compared the weight of the SG1 and the SG2. There is not much in it but the SG2 is slightly lighter. What did initially concern me is the battery cover for the SG2. It is so thin, that if you turn it sideways it almost disappears:
My concern was that something this thin could not possibly stand up to being removed multiple times in the course of the phones life, however I have since removed and replaced it a number of times, and I am surprised by its durability, and the toughness of the material it is made of. I now have no concerns that it will last for as long as I have the phone.
SG1 vs SG2
Now to compare the SG1 and SG2, what did surprise me (even though I had read this many times, I was still skeptical) is that despite the screen being larger, the SG2 does not really feel any bigger than the SG1.
Even side by side the SG2 is not much bigger than the SG1. The most noticeable difference is the SG2 has less rounded corners so makes more use of the physical space it takes up.
On turning the SG2 on it was immediately obvious that the SG2 was significantly faster than the SG1, from cold start the SG2 takes 22 seconds to get to the lock screen, and then there is no lag when you unlock the device. Compared to the SG1 which took 34 seconds, to get to the lock screen, then another 10-15 seconds for the lag to go away (bare in mind that the SG1 I am using for comparison is running a 1.2ghz OC kernel, which itself is a lot faster than the SG1 stock kernel). Another example is SPB 3D takes 4-5 seconds to do the initial launch on the SG2 compared to 20-30 seconds on the SG1).
In terms of screen, apart from being bigger, the quality of SG2 and SG1 screens to my eyes is very similar, the SG1 screen has a slightly more Bluish tint, whereas the SG2 has a slight redish tint to it. The SG2 is slightly more vibrant and sharp, they both look stunning though.
In benchmarks the SG2 just flies:
Quadrant score: 3698
This is all well and good on bench marks, but does it translate to real word usage? In a word Yes. In a couple more words “woot no more lag”. Nothing I have done so far has managed to slow the beast of a phone that is the SG2, while installing 40+ applications off of the market, I could surf the net, read email, use SPB 3D and not once did the phone stutter or lag (the battery got a bit toasty as I was putting a high load on it and charging at the same time, that is nothing surprising though).
One of the biggest improvements I have noticed is in surfing. On the SG1 I constantly had to wait for pages to load, or the browser to become responsive again, before I could scroll or zoom on a web page. On the SG2 this is no longer the case, the pages are loaded almost instantly (depending on your internet speed of course), there is no zoom or scroll lag, it is a joy to surf the web, as opposed to a frustration.
Wifi/ 3G/ Signal strength
The 3G signal strength is another area that Samsung have improved, I am in a very bad signal area and quite often had network drop outs on the SG1, and this does not happen on the SG2. An example is at my desk I normally get at best 3 bars on the SG1, in the same location the SG2 gets the full 5 bars.
The wifi is one of the few complaints I have with the SG2, when it is connected to the network (using an N wireless network). Downloading, surfing and transferring files are very fast. However if you go out of range of the network, and into range of another known network, the SG2 does not connect to the new network. You have to manually disable Wifi and re-enable it before the SG2 will connect, more of an annoyance than anything, and something that will be fixed in a future firmware release I hope.
This is beginning to turn into a contentious point. Is the GPS better in the SG2 than the SG1, or is it worse? From what I have seen so far, it is slightly better, in locations where the SG1 would not get a lock at all or where it would take a long time the SG2 does get one and it is faster. As to the accuracy it is a bit early to tell, but so far I have no complaints.
One of the things the SG1 lacked was a camera flash, there were numerous occasions where the light was not that bad, but the SG1 failed to take any sort of viewable picture. Hopefully the addition of a flash will help with this.
Above: Photos take with the SG1
Above: The same 2 pictures taken with the SG2
In the latest iteration of TouchWiz, Samsung have introduced some motion gestures.
- Tilt to zoom (place 2 fingers on the screen and tilt the phone away from you or towards you to zoom)
- Panning (Long press on the screen and tilt to the left or right to go through screens)
Both of these work well (I found the zoom a little sensitive on the default setting, although this can be changed). I found the zoom to be of most use and actually prefer it to the pinch zoom method, it allows you to keep your fingers out of the way of what you want to zoom on, so can zoom more accurately.
At the moment these new motion navigation methods, can only be used in TouchWiz home, stock gallery and the stock Internet browser, which
Samsung definitely made more of an effort with the bundled applications this time, there’s a lot (fortunately though it looks like very little of it is bloat that tries to take over the phone and cause performance issues).
To name a few:
- Kobo Books
- Readers Hub
- Music Hub
- Photo Editor
- Voice Recorder
- Video Maker
- Im Messenger
- Samsung Apps
- Polaris Office
- Press Reader
- Zinio Magazines
- Gamers hub (allows for downloading of premium and free games).
- Voice commands.
- Kies Wifi
Some of these are nice additions to the SG2, the Video maker and Photo editor, allow for basic editing of movies and photos, and from what I have seen they do a pretty good job. Polaris office is much better than the ThinkFree office bundled with the SG1. I am even considering changing from Documents To Go to Polaris as my document editor of choice on the Galaxy Tab, it is that good.
Two programs to watch out for are “Kies Wifi” and “Voice Commands”, If Kies wifi is started it apparently always runs in the back ground and drains the battery, with no way of disabling it in the future (short of rooting your phone and uninstalling it).
Voice commands gave me loads of problems, it launches when you connect to a Bluetooth car kit, and there does not seem to be away to disable it, that would not be a problem if it just sat there and did not get in the way. However it kept disabling my Bluetooth, closing itself and my music player, then relaunching when I turned on Bluetooth again (I’m guessing the cause was my battery was <30% and it decided that I did not really want to play music because of this). I uninstalled it with Titanium back up and the problem went away.
It’s a bit early for any definitive answers to how long the battery lasts in real usage, although initial observations are positive. On my first charge after the initial 8hr charge, I had 12.5hrs of heavy usage before the battery finally died. By heavy I mean, a lot of surfing and downloading, Whatsapp and talkdroid always on, wifi/ 3g always on, streaming radio off of the internet for a couple of hours and playing it via blue tooth, some photo and video editing. Installing 40+ apps off of the market and using them, lots of SM’S etc
This pretty much puts it on par with what I got from the SG1.