The Android Phone That Gives Steve Jobs Nightmares

June 30, 2011
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For a too long a time, the world has been singing praises for the iPhone, but the praise in the orchard has lately been muffled by the rising sun coming from Android land.  The iPhone 4 blew many – if not all –  smartphones away when it arrived, with so many rivals aspiring to take its place–often barely scratching the surface.

But, the time for the iPhone’s real rival has come.  The Samsung Galaxy S II has arrived, through which Almighty Android will raise its mighty hand against the evil fruit.  The Samsung Galaxy S II not only outguns the iPhone 4–it will also be a worthy opponent of the iPhone 4’s successor, the iPhone 5.

It’s not wise to defeat opponents by striking them in all of their weak spots.  There’s no real glory or victory in that.  The Samsung Galaxy S II must be able to stand on the merit of its own strengths.  And, right here, in this post, you will find a quick view of the strengths of this gorgeous piece of Android tech.

Design, sound, and display

While many were quick to point out that the first Galaxy S was very similar to the iPhone 3GS, and considering Apple’s ongoing lawsuit against Samsung, the Galaxy S II is an entirely different beast. With its elegant design and small bump at the back, the smartphone fits perfectly in the hand.

Another feature highlight that other manufacturers are also implementing is the convenience of SIM card replacement without having to remove the battery.  However, the battery will have to get out of the way for you to reach the Samsung Galaxy S II’s microSD slot.

Many felt crestfallen at the 480×800 screen resolution of the Samsung Galaxy S II since many other high-end Android smartphones currently sport qHD-compatible screens at a much higher resolution of 540×960.  But, the Samsung Galaxy S II’s Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen smoothens everyone’s flustered feathers.  You just have to literally see how the Galaxy S II’s display dances and prances vividly and brilliantly even in broad daylight.  That’s the “plus” of Super AMOLED Plus in the Samsung Galaxy S II.  Besides, the screen resolution size hardly matters much in this context because numerous Android apps are not yet compatible with qHD.

The Samsung Galaxy S II did away with several physical buttons–including a dedicated camera button on the side.  To some, it is a relief.  To others, it is an annoyance.  But, without the physical button for search functions, for instance, the Galaxy S II has less clutter, cleaner aesthetics, and a clearer aspect in the hand.

A small back opening serves as the outlet for high-quality sound–and at a reasonable volume at that, minus disturbing vibrations and/or interference.  Orienting the Galaxy S II in landscape, however, can block the small opening, resulting in slightly muffled sound.  But, that is very small matter.  Just keep your fingers away from the opening when you hold the device in landscape mode.

Hardware capabilities

Scoring over 3200 points in the Quadrant benchmark test, the Samsung Galaxy S II is currently the most powerful smartphone in the world. Hardware-wise, with its 1.2 GHz dual-core ARM A9 processor, Mali 400MP GPU, 1 GB RAM, 16 GB storage capacity, and an extra 32 GB max on microSD, it’s an absolute beast of a phone.  Samsung is also said to be releasing another version with 32 GB internal capacity, thus bringing overall space up to 64 GB. This record-breaking monstrosity ensures all applications, Internet browsing with flash, and 1080p HD video playback will be done at eye-popping speed. Simply put, the Samsung Galaxy S II is the most responsive smartphone we have ever used, and can handle absolutely everything you throw at it.

Operating system and app support

While making perfect use of the Android 2.3 Gingerbread and the Samsung TouchWiz 4.0 interface, the Galaxy S II–for better or for worse–does not yet bring with it any applications that are dual-core optimized.
While Samsung’s handset does run Market apps at incredible speeds, most of the processing power is cannot be used due to the lack of applications optimized for it, but this will change soon.  That’s one way to look at it–as “wasted” processing power.  The other end of the stick says it’s dormant and latent processing power, because dual-core-optimized Market apps are coming, and when they do, they are going to run smoothly on the Samsung Galaxy S II.

Perhaps dual-core processors have reached the smartphone market a bit earlier than expected, or perhaps it may simply be the case of not enough programmer interest in the technology yet. As it stands, the only version of Android to take advantage of dual-core processing is Android 3.0 Honeycomb. Although the Galaxy S II sold 1 million units in under a month in South Korea, some time may yet pass before the beast has apps worthy of its specifications, and this will likely be realized when Google releases Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, which we know to be designed with dual-core processing in mind.

In terms of operating system and apps support, the Samsung Galaxy S II is clearly ahead of its time.  Whether that’s a plus point or a minus point, I leave it up to you, but in our eyes, devices built with as much future proofing as possible are always good.

Connectivity

Boasting 4G speeds of over 21 Mbps, Wi-Fi a/b/g/n support, GPS, microUSB, 3.5-mm audio jack, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi hotspot support, and DLNA, the Samsung Galaxy S II sets the stage for interconnectivity with peripherals.  The lack of a full-sized HDMI port may be seen as a downside, but DLNA provides for wireless HD video streaming and optional adapters for the microUSB MHL port can easily wire up the Galaxy S II to HD displays.  Nevertheless, with amazing bandwidth rates and its over-the-top CPU and RAM, the smartphone makes Internet browsing faster than any other device on the market, with media-heavy sites with Flash running without a flinch or stutter. Surrpisingly, it even runs faster than most tablets or netbooks.

Cameras

With an 8.1-MP rear-facing camera (with LED flash and autofocus) and a 2-MP frontal camera (compared to the HTC Sensation’s 0.3 and the LG Optimus’ 1.3), the Galaxy S II’s camera is perfect for capturing high-quality, full-HD (1080p) videos, as well as visually stunning photographs, while the  frontal camera ensures a superb video chat standard. In our time with it, it captured marvelous quality 1080p video, and did a fantastic job of capturing low light night shots too.

Battery power

The Samsung Galaxy S II has top-of-the-line hardware (especially the processor), so you can expect its components to guzzle up battery power fast, right?  Amazingly, its 1650-mAh battery can last up to approximately 10 hours with all graphical enhancements turned on and with power management turned off. Turning on power management and selectively choosing only the necessary graphical enhancements lengthens the battery life significantly.  On standby or with non-continuous light to moderate usage, the battery lasts up to a day.  Still, for heavy users, or for serious multi-taskers, it would be wise to have a charger handy. Remember, you have an incredibly powerful device in your pocket and it requires a lot of battery power if used to its full potential.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy S II raises the bar significantly with its long list of technological treats that will certainly enamor many consumers for a long time to come.  Some will expectedly turn away from it because of its battery power limitations, but this is unlikely to sour its already enormously positive reception.  Aside from this latter potential source of disappointment, the Samsung Galaxy S II is exactly what it is– raw power, beautifully hidden under a stylish design–and should be appreciated as such. With its industry-leading, eye-popping Super AMOLED Plus display–which has to be seen to be believed–it’s incredible responsiveness, HD-capable 1080p camera, and its long laundry list of delightfully modern techno treats, it’s currently the best Android superphone on the market. Plus, we know that the device has been released with an unlocked bootloader, and Samsung was kind enough (smart) to send a few over to the Cynanogen team with instruction to begin modding and making custom ROMs. This will likely result in a ton of improvements made, further adding to its potential in the near future.

Also, consider this: this superphone boasts performance 500% superior to its younger sibling, the original Samsung Galaxy S. Not bad for one year, right? Any thoughts on the Samsung Galaxy S II? Thanks for reading our hands on review of the Samsung Galaxy S II.

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