The Samsung Galaxy S II is one of the few smartphones that has been aggressively taking a bite out of the iPhone’s pie. To date Samsung has sold over 10 million Galaxy S II handsets. We first got to check out the Samsung Galaxy S II at MWC 2011. Several months later, the Galaxy II is now available worldwide. But we finally got to spend sometime with the Samsung Galaxy S II for AT&T. So the big question, is this really the Android smartphone to wipe the floor with other smartphones?
Perhaps the strongest feature on the Galaxy S II is its amazing 4.3″ Super AMOLED Plus Display with a 480 x 800 resolution. This display is arguably the best display available on a smartphone today. Colors are vivid, plenty bright and visuals are super sharp, and it has great viewing angles. Watching movies on the Galaxy S II is a feast for your eyes, as is viewing photos.
Yet despite its large display, the Galaxy S II manages to stay super thin! It measures just .35 inches at its thinnest. If you’ve never held this device in your hands, you’ll be quite surprised the first time you hold it. It’s almost difficult to believe how svelte it really is. To top it all off, weighing at just 4.3 ounces it also feels quite lightweight for a device with such a large display. We really do appreciate its lightweight and thin form-factor, yet despite all of that it still feels very well made and built to last. Personally, we find the Galaxy S II more comfortable to hold than the Samsung Infuse 4G which is a bit unwieldy for our hands.
Under the hood the Samsung Galaxy S II is packing in a 1.2GHz Dual Core processor. The device earned a record-breaking score of 3078 in Quadrant Standard! We have tested other smartphones with near similar prowess, but we have to say that the Galaxy S II feels exceptionally speedy. Navigating Gingerbread 2.3.4 on the device feels super fluid and responsive, and at the end of the day, that is what matters most. Speaking of responsiveness, the on-screen keyboard on the Galaxy S II is also very responsive and the extra big display real estate helps make the typing experience more pleasant. The keyboard also supports Swype.
Samsung’s TouchWiz interface with their Social Hub for enhanced social media integration is also preloaded on the Galaxy S II. These U.I. touches aren’t quite as slick as HTC Sense, but there is a nice selection of widgets to choose from out of the box – like AP Mobile, a mini paper widget for notes, an Agenda widget, a program monitor widget, a Yahoo! Finance widget for stocks, and more. Samsung’s Media Hub with its Movie Store and TVstore is also preloaded onto the device. Other preloaded apps include AllShare, Amazon Kindle, Angry Birds, Angry Money, AT&T Code Scanner, AT&T Family Map, AT&T Navigator, Google Books, Facebook, Kies Air, Live TV, Mini Diary, myAT&T, a Photo Editor, Qik Lite, Places, Quickoffice, Google Talk, a Task manager, and more. Overall, there is quite a nice selection of useful and valuable apps that come with the Galaxy S II.
The Galaxy S II packs in an 8MP rear facing camera with Auto-focus and HD video recording. This camera is one of the best smartphone cameras you can find. It’s able to snap photos quickly and focus fast. Pictures tend to be quite sharp with great color reproduction. Even indoor shots are pretty color accurate, and not too grainy. As a matter of fact, this is the best and fastest smartphone camera we’ve used to date on an Android phone. The Galaxy S II also has a 2MP front-facing camera for video calls.
The Galaxy S II for AT&T is an HSPA+ device. We found the web browsing experience to be very speedy. That said, if speed is super important to you, you might consider waiting to get the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket which comes out next week. This Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket is one of AT&T’s first smartphones to pack in 4G LTE speeds speeds. We’ll do a full speed test on the Skyrocket as soon as we get our hands on one.
As for battery – the battery life on the device is about average and you can get through the day with moderate usage.
After spending some time with the Samsung Galaxy S II for AT&T, it’s no wonder that this Gingerbread phone has been doing so well. It really is one of the best Android smartphones on the market today. One of the only devices that can really compete with it on paper is the upcoming Galaxy Nexus or perhaps the Motorola Droid RAZR, so it will be interesting to see how these three devices compare. Overall, you really can’t go wrong with the Samsung Galaxy S II. That said, the display and overall size of the device for the Galaxy S II might be a bit too large for some, and we’re not exactly in love with Samsung’s TouchWiz interface either. Regardless, the Samsung Galaxy S II really is the Android phone to beat nowadays. The Samsung Galaxy S II for AT&T retails for $199 with a 2 year contract, and it’s also going for as low as $144.99 on Amazon. But if you’re an AT&T customer, you might want to hold out for the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket. Either way keep an eye out for our upcoming Samsung Galaxy S II for AT&T Giveaway, since we’ll actually be giving away the phone used in this review!
The Good: Amazing rich and vibrant display, super responsive performance, speedy web browsing experience, bundled with plenty of useful widgets and apps, excellent camera, super thin an lightweight form-factor
The Bad: No white version available for AT&T, display might be too large for some hands
Update 11/5/2011: Check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy S II Skyrocket for AT&T