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April 22, 2011

Samsung Galaxy S2 i9100 Review

Having owned over half a dozen Android smartphones in the past year, I thought I’ve seem them all. The Samsung Galaxy S II (S2 i9100) brings it up a notch — a powerful and sexy Android superphone that comes with all the bells and whistles.

The very thin frame of the Galaxy S II gives it that sexy appeal. Just like its predecessor, its mostly made out of polymer making it very light and almost unnoticeable in the pocket.

Yes, it sometimes looks like an iPhone, both in design and UI (though I’d wish the iPhone 5 would very much have an exact form factor) prompting Apple to file a lawsuit against Samsung. Still, it’s admirable that Samsung is able to pull it off and somehow retain a little bit of design signature.

The large 4.3-inch display is surrounded by a thin, dark bezel with a front-facing camera on top, a couple of sensors and earpiece beside it. At the bottom end, the usual physical home button is sandwiched by a touch panel button for Menu and Back.

On the left side is the volume rocker while the power/sleep button is on the right side. On the top end is the 3.5″ audio jack while the micro-USB port for data and power is situated at the bottom. The absence of a dedicated camera button is a little disappointing.

The bright and crisp display of the Galaxy S II is one of its best feature. Just like the first-gen Galaxy S, the AMOLED Plus display is among the best screens we’ve seen on a phone — deep contrast, vivid colors and smooth display quality. I’m not able to discern the difference between AMOLED and AMOLED Plus but I guess the benefits are all behind the scenes (like low-power consumption).

At the back panel is the huge 8MP camera and there’s a little protrusion at the bottom end (perhaps to give it a good grip) is where the audio speakers are placed. The entire back cover (for the battery compartment) has a rough mesh-type finish.

Contrary to what we’ve posted before here and the specs that we’ve gotten earlier, the Galaxy S II unit that we’re using has a slightly lower specifications. It still even has the dual-core 1.0GHz processor instead of the recent announcement that it’s going to be 1.2GHz. That’s probably due to the fact that it’s just an engineering unit and not the final release.

The battery is also rated at 6.11Wh (and a voltage rating of 3.7V), which translates to roughly 1651mAh. That gives us about a full 2 days with mostly calls and SMS with light WiFi browsing. We’re not able to test out 3G usage since I could not figure out the settings (copied the one from the old Galaxy S but that didn’t work either).

Based on the System Info App, here’s the partial internal specs of the unit we got:

CPU Frequency Range: 200MHz – 1,000MHz
SD Card Storage: 11.5 GB
Internal Storage: 1.97 GB
System Storage: 504 MB
Memory: 833 MB
System Cache: 92 MB
Sensors: 9
OS Release: 2.3.3
Resolution: 480×800 pixels
Density: 240 dpi
Refresh Rate: 60Hz

That does not include the external SD card (A2SD) slot found at the back, behind the battery, which can accommodate an additional 32GB of storage.

The Galaxy S2’s camera is among the best ones we’ve used and is at par with the likes of Nokia N8 and the iPhone 4. The camera takes great photos — images are crisp and well saturated. There’s far less blurry images since the shutter speed is quite fast. Oh, and it’s got an LED flash now, too! Would have been nice if they added a dedicated camera button. See sample shots taken below (or see full album here in raw).

What makes it better than all the other cameraphones out there is that the Galaxy S II can record up to 1080p videos (full HD!) without even breaking a sweat. It can also play the 1080p videos effortlessly, something my 11″ Macbook Air is having a hard time to do.

See sample video footages take using the Galaxy S2 (select 1080p on the dropdown menu).

The handset performs really well, thanks to the improved CPU, more generous RAM and graphics chip. Apps load faster, games run more smoothly and even web browsing is much more efficient and pleasant.

The Galaxy S II uses Samsung’s TouchWiz UI on top of Android Gingerbread. It comes with 7 panels or home screens and navigates just like the old Galaxy S. There are a number of very noticeable improvements, especially with the additional of more functional and eye-candy widgets (reminds me of HTC Sense). See video demo below:

Samsung i9100 Galaxy S II specs:
4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus @ 480×800 pixels
Gorilla Glass display
Dual-core 1.0GHz ARM Cortex-A9 proccessor
Mali-400MP GPU, Orion chipset
833MB RAM
2GB + 12GB internal storage
up to 32GB via microSD
HSDPA 21 Mbps, HSUPA 5.76 Mbps
Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, DLNA, WiFi Direct, WiFi hotspot
8MP autofocus camera w/ LED Flash
Stereo FM radio with RDS
GPS with aGPS support
Bluetooth 3.0 + HS
1080p video recording
2MP front-facing camera for video calls
Li-Ion 1650mAh battery
Android 2.3 Gingerbread

I was not able to test out other integrated features such as 3G/HSDPA and WiFi-Direct due to compatibility in the settings. Samsung PR stressed that this is not the final unit which is the reason why we’ve encountered numerous system and app errors.

The Samsung Galaxy S II definitely brings new excitement to the Android smartphone line-up. The souped-up specs, dual-core processor, sexy form factor and large AMOLED screen certainly elevated the Galaxy S2 i9100 to the top of the heap.

It’s probably going to be the first dual-core Android smartphone to hit the Philippines this May (unless of course LG will beat it to the punch). Samsung is yet to release this handset in the Philippines (although I hear it’s definitely going to be this May) and we’re still guessing what the suggested price will be.

If it’s going to be anywhere near the price of the first Galaxy S (~Php32k), then it’s going to be another hot item once again. See our closer comparison between the SGS2 and the SGS here.

Update: The Samsung Galaxy S2 will have a retail price of Php29,990.

Galaxy S i9000 vs. HTC Desire vs. XPeria X10
Samsung Galaxy S GT-i9000 unboxed!
Globe launches Samsung Galaxy S2

216 Responses to “Samsung Galaxy S2 i9100 Review”

  1. Gino says:

    why make a review if its not the final released unit? not that i mind :)

  2. GrewSober says:

    Hi! When is thus phone gonna be released? Sana naman di lalagpas ng 32k ang price.

  3. WSD says:

    Wow awesome 1080p quilty!!
    currently having the GALAXY S, bought it 2 days ago, feel sorry for not waiting for the S2 ;(

  4. WSD says:

    Wow, I just bought it yesterday, why couldnt i waited for the S2, the camera being 1080 is amazing.

  5. phets says:

    It’s soooo pretty! I think I’m in love… :x LOL! :))

  6. razorous
    Twitter: razorous
    says:

    I want!

  7. Android Philippines
    Twitter: pinoyandroid
    says:

    Wow! Yuga have it!

  8. Justine
    Twitter: justinecapili
    says:

    If iPhone is open-source. I’ll but it. But’s it’s damn not. Waste of money! Android FTW! :)

  9. renedel says:

    Hi, what’s the music in the youtube video ?
    Thanks

  10. mikey says:

    already pre ordered one. easily one of the best and most awaited phones of the year next to the iphone 5. this’ll be my first android phone too, always been an ios user.

  11. Nins says:

    @ mlkey

    Where’d you pre-order man?

  12. snoop says:

    nice blog man.. you write pretty well.. i will follow you on twitter.. keep us updated..

  13. razorous
    Twitter: razorous
    says:

    I can’t wait till Samsung throws a party ni the PH too! | Samsung Galaxy S II launches in South Korea and the UK | http://bit.ly/mry4z1

  14. mac21 says:

    it costs 500pounds in uk

  15. Wakocoke says:

    best smartphone as of now

    -engadget

  16. fr0stbyte says:

    I know several friends who pre-ordered it from the UK. Shipping starts May 2nd to 3rd depending on the shop. Would’ve ordered too but decided to wait for actual user feedback from my friends. By far, this looks like the most promising phone from Samsung.

  17. Marvin says:

    I still like my SE Xperia Arc ;)

  18. Ram says:

    This gadget is just so awesome! I’m really looking forward to this!

  19. Ram says:

    Awesome gadget! I’m really looking forward for the release of this one. Kudos to Samsung! :)

  20. Mark says:

    hello po mga tao dito;

    ano kayang phone ang bilin ko white iphone 4 or mag recommend nga po kayo ng comparable price na android phone.salamat.

    • lemuel says:

      iPhone 4 white because you can install a lot of cool apps :-)

      iPhone user Guide

    • mikey says:

      if youre talking about the same price point:

      white or black iphone 4 (they’re both almost the same, just white is more expensive and has a few tweaks to its structure) OR any of the new and upcoming android dual core phones. tbh a newer iphone should be coming later this year or early next so buying the ip4 might just disappoint you. a better alternative would be any dual core android phone, such as this one (s2) or motorola atrix 4g or the upcoming htc sensation. all these phones are ~$200 cheaper than the iphone 4 (which is about $1000). you first have to decide if you’re an android or ios person :)

  21. Zo says:

    Has there really been no official statement on this phone’s release date? I’m getting confused if it’ll be this august or june or even as early as this month. haha!

  22. dulfo says:

    Hi, anyone out there who knows when is this going to be available in our local stores? Asked Samsung reps yesterday in CyberZone-Mega about the release date of the GSII but no one had a ready answer. Also, I had a good time playing with the functionalities of the sample test phone Galaxy SL 9003(low-end version of the GalaxyS). So now, my expectations for the G SII went up.

  23. Bryan says:

    Damn!! I lurve it. Im really searching for a phone so i could replace my stolen iphone 4. Im thinking of Sony Ericsson Xperia Pro, yet to be released in the Phil. cause of the HD Bravia thing going on the phone or this one. Same thing. but less the additional pumps that sony provides. cant decide.. huhuhu

    • Zo says:

      between the upcoming Xperia Pro & the S2, that really is a tough decision.

      It all boils down to what you FEEL would be the best phone for you.

      Feel the force brotha! :D

  24. This is an awesome gadget. Love this.

  25. IPhone 4 says:

    IPhone 4 white looks better than this one. This could be another buggy phone :p

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