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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.

Samsung i9000 Galaxy S announced
Cherry Superion vs. Archos 70 vs. Galaxy Tab
Samsung Galaxy S2 vs. HTC Sensation

216 Responses to “Samsung Galaxy S2 i9100 Review”

  1. ally says:

    Got it here in KL,Malaysia. I am loving the features plus the applications running on android are cool and plus the swipe keypads capacity rocks :) There’s no way apple user can do this, best of all angry birds for all levels are free, I bet apple users pay for the other levels :))

  2. BrandedVideosPH says:

  3. damn,if you only like games you can get it for free on mobilegamesarena.net!..for me moto atrix is way much better than this.the downside though is it doesnt have a radio!well,you cant have it all i guess..

  4. Newbie says:

    I noticed that the back / battery cover can be opened, does this mean that the battery of the Samsung Galaxy S II replaceable?

  5. Mint says:

    Has anyone tried the voice talk as shown in this commercial:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FUZs-4RB7I

    How was it? Is it that responsive like in the video?

  6. barron skaar
    Twitter: rjtotally
    says:

    m considerin to buy the white version of this but my concern is Im hearing some things like cellphone companies are releasing brand nu phones that august/sept is the season for new set of gadgets sumthin like that. and one more thing am not really techy so is it gonna worth it? i like browsing the internet, taking pictures, listenin to music but not into games, though likes to show off. lol. so do u guys think a not so techy like me could get use of or maximize the utilization or usage of the features of this phone or not and stay wit my Nokia 1280? =)

  7. Alejandro says:

    Samsung i9100 Galaxy S II 16GB and 32GB 2.3 Android Smartphone.

    Package Contents:

    * Samsung phone Galaxy S II
    * 1500mAh Li-Ion Battery
    * Headset
    * Instruction Manual
    * Meet brochure
    * Travel Adapter
    * microUSB cable
    * Screen Saver

    32GB and 16GB available.

    Interested buyers should contact us at: alejandro_sanchez44@yahoo.com

  8. bechie says:

    i love s2 so much.. But the batteries are dropping low easily.. it cant even last in a day.. but nothin’ s perfect it is how you enjoy and love it..

  9. Doug says:

    Thanks for the review. I bought one of these today but it didn’t come with a micro SD card or a mini HDMI cable, is it supposed to come with these?

  10. rey says:

    Thanks for the nice review, it really helps a lot of people like me to appreciate this new smart-phone. like the Samsung galaxy S2. Can’t wait for December to have it.

  11. reeya says:

    how much is samsung galaxy sII in Philippines? thanks

    • BiancaMitchCruz says:

      Php29,990.00

    • reeya says:

      thanks… i’m in thailand now and this phone cost 18900 baht, around 27k in php. i’m still making decision if i will buy it or not. pero parang walang international warranty dito ang mga cp so i think it is better to buy when i go home.

    • Doug says:

      P29,990 is the standard retail price, mine cost P28,300, same place is now selling for P28,000 which was in SM Clark which had dedicated Samsung sales ladies. i see quite a lot of dedicated Samsung stores being opened in SM & Marquee malls but unfortunately they will always sell products at retail price with no discount even for cash. i bought my wife the Galaxy tab 10.1 from same place i got my phone for slughtly less ths Samsung store. on a side note we can now do skype video calls SGS2 – SGT10.1 when i’m working overseas. On another note i’m not an apple fan boy..

  12. r.a says:

    S2? not that great, promise. mag-iphone 4 na lang, HTC or Experia Arc.. I used to have a samsung S2 last last week pero hindi sulit,, so binenta ko na lang at nagchange phone ako…. that’s my opinion.

    • Jtr
      Twitter: jaiconruedas
      says:

      What?! If you compare those with sgs2 side by side..you will actually see sgs2 is greater :) i know it! believe me

    • rory says:

      why hindi sulit? i’m torn between the xperia arc and the s2…i know spec wise better ang s2. but it seems like mas bet ko yung xperia

    • Doug says:

      Haha i suppose every one has their own opinion. Mine is that the SGS2 is easily the best android phone on the market, T3 & Stuff magazines place it 2nd to iphone 4, don’t know why as it’s defo #1 smart phone!

    • Londoner says:

      It smells like stuff and T3 magazine writers are iphone4 fanatics, Galaxy S2 (i9100) got a dual core processor, flash enabled browser, full HD 1080p video recording, 8mp rear camera, 2mp front camera and a 833ram + voice talk compared to the lowly specs of the IPhone4. And that’s why IPhone4S was released to catch up with the specs. I Got the Iphone4 and the Galaxy S2, and using the iphone4 just because of itunes. Upgraded my iphone4 contract to the 4S but will only have the 4S by November because of the massive pre-order line here. But until then Galaxy S2 is better than the iphone4 and in par with the new 4S (spec-wise and only because of itunes).

  13. garz says:

    I just bought an S2.. I already upgraded the firmware but I’m still disappointed with the battery life. Most people say it will be taken care of upon the release of 2.3.4 but Kies or Samsung Phils. doesn’t offer the upgrade yet. Now I’m opting to do those manual installation just to get the upgrade.

    Is it safe? Will I be able to revert the installation in case something goes awry?

    • Chai Chen
      Twitter: chenmeicai
      says:

      My sentiments exactly!

      I’m trying to upgrade my firmware rin though whenever I do that from my phone, it hangs. :(

      My battery life is also not so good. I used to charge once a day though (still not good coz I was expecting, maybe, after 2-3 days charging hehe) and now I do 2x a day (within 24 hrs). I have to admit though that I’ve been playing a lot of games though thru wifi hehe. But still, battery life is low.

      I’m not sure how to upgrade the version properly though.

    • josh says:

      naku kuya if i were you hintay mo nlng marelease d2 saten ung 2.3.4.. prng delikado kc ung manual upgrade na un tsaka mavovoid ung waranty.. naiinis nko sa s2 ko kc grabe kung uminit as in OA talaga! i tried upgrading thru kies pero palpak!! mga 80% na yata un tpos bgla cnabi phone cannot be detected ek ek tpos aun. kylngn daw idisconnect then reconect.. nung nireconect ko na nawala na ung notification ng latest firmware!!! haaay nku kainis tlga… guys if ever nmn available na 2.3.4 sa pinas paupdate nmn po… katamad kc mgcheck thru kies kakabadtrip lng.. tpos nearest service center saken is MOA which is almost 1.5 hrs byahe pa… hay.. powerful phone sana kaso di kaya isuport features nya… kainis

  14. Chai Chen
    Twitter: chenmeicai
    says:

    Hi Abe / Yuga!

    What’s the best tool for net monitoring for time instead, for S2?

    I currently have a Traffic Monitor (Radio Opt) widget but it only measures data (MB, GB, etc.) Is there one Android app you’re aware of that counts the time consumed?

    Thanks for your help in advance. (^_^)

  15. joji says:

    Just bought one. so far im liking it… flash player doesnt make the browser lag anymore even while im playing 720p flash. havent tried 1080p though coz buffer is slow. cheers

  16. Luxembourg says:

    So far I have been using the Samsung Galaxy GT-I9000T for two weeks and find it to be an awesome phone. The phone’s built quality is superb for a plastic enclosure (the construction quality of an iPhone 4 is clearly superior). The phone is light, slim and it sports a gorgeous super amoled 4 inch display that is the best thing about this phone. The quality of the camera is also great, however it does not have flash which I don’t miss much but maybe for some, having a flash is a must.

    • GalaxyS2fan says:

      This is the Galaxy S2 (i9100) not the Galaxy S (i9000)

      It has flash for it’s 8mp rear camera.

  17. ano b yan!!! says:

    sobra nman yan…

    MAG 3210 n lng kau… ang dami ng n ggutom yan pa ang bbilhin nyo.. sobra n yan.. parang gamak anak nyo n c gloria and mike nyan

  18. GensanBoy says:

    Ive been using this phone for more that 2 weeks already. I love it. Everything is perfect except for the battery life. I dont mind coz I got one of those Energizer Energi To Go.

  19. ultrarighteous says:

    using SGS2, which came from Singtel. I can’t seem to go online via 3g/hspa/hsdpa. Is there any special thing/configuration I should do to fix this issue?

  20. Larry says:

    nagkaproblema ba kau sa battery? battery disconnected, i had it when i first charge my phone using the supplied charger. the phone is awesome! but when i try to tap the back of the phone hard enough there will be a springy feeling, do u guys happen to experience that too?

    Thanks :-)

  21. bpi says:

    can somebody please tell me how long can the battery of sgs2 last for the ff:

    talk time: up to __ hours on 3G
    up to __ hours on 2G
    standby time: up to __ hours
    internet use: up to __ hours on 3G
    up to __ hours on Wi-Fi
    video playback: up to __ hours
    audio playback: up to __ hours

    hehe thanks. :D

  22. xLICKx says:

    1 of my consideration in buying new phone is kung merong flash player :)

    im into online/fb game kase.

    pls help.

    ty

  23. Mike says:

    Since when does a mitsubishi lancer have wooden trim on the dashboard?

    Great phone though.

  24. Jay says:

    Hi po… should I get plan to go with the phone or is it ok standing alone? (for internet and download purposes when wifi is not around)

  25. cowscrubber says:

    The front looks so much like the iPhone… haha
    Its UI is even iOS-like (although I’ve never had an iPhone).

    No wonder Apple sued Samsung.

    Still, it’s a great phone!

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Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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