First impression of Samsung Galaxy S II

Summary:For the past week I have been using the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone as my main Android phone, switching over from Samsung Nexus S. Based on my first week's experience with the phone, here's what I like about it:Large, bright, vivid 4.

For the past week I have been using the Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone as my main Android phone, switching over from Samsung Nexus S. Based on my first week's experience with the phone, here's what I like about it:

  • Large, bright, vivid 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Screen: The screen is simply gorgeous compared to the iPhone 4; colours are so bright and vivid, the pixels are packed dense enough that I don't really miss the retina display of the iPhone 4. In spite of the bigger screen (4.3-inch vs iPhone 4's 3.5-inch display), it fits comfortably in my pocket.
  • Lighter, thinner than iPhone 4: It's amazing how Samsung fitted a user-replaceable battery with normal-size SIM and expandable storage into a package that's thinner and lighter than the iPhone 4. There's an unusual bump at the lower back of the phone; I suppose the bump is useful to help me grab the phone the right way up. (Yes, I often fish out my iPhone from my pocket the wrong way up.) The back cover feels flimsy and plasticky, but it's worth the sacrifice for a lighter, thinner phone.
  • Dual Core CPU: This is the fastest Android phone that I have used; it definitely felt faster than the single-core Nexus S. The Galaxy S II is the ideal phone for resource-hungry apps like Touchdown.
  • Easier typing: The larger screen and Samsung's specially-designed virtual keyboard makes the Galaxy S II one of the best Android phones for typing accuracy. But the Galaxy S II virtual keyboard and touchscreen still feels less accurate than the iPhone 4.
  • Motion commands: You can flip the phone face down to silence the phone when it rings. When you're using the Web browser, you can touch with two fingers and tilt the phone away/toward you to zoom the screen out/in.
  • Voice commands: The voice command feature powered by Vlingo was very impressive. It was able to recognize my Asian accent and execute the right command when I said "Send message to Nicholas 'Meet us for lunch'."
  • 8-megapixel back camera and 2-megapixel front camera: Compare this with iPhone 4's 5-megapixel back camera and 0.3-megapixel front camera.
  • Support for HSPA+ 21 Mbps download: My download speed on the Galaxy S II is currently maxed out at about 3 Mbps, similar to my iPhone 4. Hopefully when my mobile operator rolls out HSPA+ I can use my Galaxy S II as a high-speed 3G hotspot.

What I don't like about the Galaxy S II:

  • Lock screen: Sliding my finger to unlock the phone doesn't always work, especially when I slide too quickly.
  • Poor support for Exchange e-mail: Using the built-in e-mail app, I wasn't able to sync my e-mail from my Exchange 2010 e-mail server. I had to use Touchdown to access my Exchange e-mail.
  • No near-field communications (NFC): It's a pity that Samsung dropped the NFC feature from the Galaxy S II. The Samsung Nexus S with built-in NFC showed lots of potential for running useful proximity apps.

The Galaxy S II is technically superior to the iPhone 4 in most respects but I find the user experience somewhat inferior to the iPhone 4--some screens are laggy, the keyboard is not as accurate, and I still prefer the touch and feel of the iPhone 4's hard glass surface. The Galaxy S II feels almost as good as the iPhone experience, maybe with a few tweaks it will beat the iPhone. In the meantime, the Galaxy S II is truly the best Android phone available now.

Topics: iPhone


Lee Lup Yuen is passionate about mobile phones and PDAs, as he is constantly buying new gadgets and programming them in J2ME, .NET, Symbian and AppForge. He has developed commercial applications with mobile technologies like SMS, MMS, WAP, 3G video streaming and location-based services.

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