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Samsung Galaxy S II: Best smartphone for 2011?

N.B. You can pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S II by following these instructions. Retail price is PHP 29,990. Discounted price is PHP 26,990.

For the past three weeks I’ve been playing with both the prototype and the actual unit of Samsung’s lastest Android gem, the Galaxy S II. I first got to hold the device back in Mobile World Congress ’11 in Barcelona and it is, without doubt, the most highly anticipated smartphone in the Android universe because it’s simply mind blowing.

This phone deserves to be reviewed from two perspectives: (1) as the successor to the first Samsung Galaxy S which was also highly popular and (2) from the perspective of an Android device and how it compares to the competition.

Samsung Galaxy S vs Galaxy S II

Article Source: Computerworld

It’s the same in 2010 as with 2011: The Galaxy S series shines with more or less the same talking points Samsung put into the phone’s development. In 2010 we were presented with a 4 inch Super AMOLED screen that was considered the biggest and brightest in the industry. In 2011 they improved the screen to give us an additional .3 inches making it bigger (but still having the same 480×800 resolution) and a Super AMOLED Plus to make it even brighter.

Super AMOLED (Plus) is Samsung’s proprietary screen technology that allows them to make their phones (1) really bright (2) really thin without (3) compromise to battery life. I was a bit iffy with their first iteration — despite delivering the promise of brightness and thin screens, the first Galaxy S didn’t have exceptional battery life. This second version really seals the deal with about 10 hours of regular use with data turned on.

Samsung Galaxy S II vs Everyone Else

Though it may be made of cheaper plastic as compared to HTC’s more elegant phones, Samsung really put in a lot of effort with the screen and overall feel to make up for the raw materials used to clad this device. The dual core processor seems to make the phone run faster as well as this is the smoothest I’ve seen Android run on. I do have to explain this a bit more:

There are two versions of the Galaxy S II. There is a Exynos 4210 version (GT-i9100 model) and a version running on NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 chip (the GT-i9103 model). The one I have runs on the Exynos chip which is a technology from Samsung and has thus been better in performance compared to Tegra II. These two video “cards” are what you call SoC’s or ‘System on Chip’ which means that they’re part of the dual core package deal (similar to how you have ‘Centrino’ branding chips for Intel). If you didn’t understand anything I just said, all you need to know is that as much as possible, buy the Galaxy S II i9100 unit and not the i9103 because the former has a better graphics processor built in. If you don’t have a choice, then so be it. End of the day, it won’t really matter as it’s a goddam cellphone.

The Exynos chip is at the core of why this phone is so great. It’s the fastest Android 2.3 device I’ve ever used and couple that with its form factor and crisp screen, there’s nothing more that could be wanted. Even the antennae signal is better in all of my comparisons to other v2.3 devices such as the SE XPERIA Arc and the Desire S of HTC.

What’s equally attractive is the price point. Close to PHP 30k isn’t cheap but its just a small amount higher than the flagship models of other big manufacturers and still way cheaper than the iPhone.

The Galaxy S II isn’t without its faults. For one thing, although I admire Samsung for being adamant with their TouchWiz UI which they embed onto all their Android devices, I still don’t fancy the use of the different “hubs.” I find myself installing LauncherPro over their UI because I personally find the experience to be much better.

Secondly, a 4.3 inch screen may prove too wide for some with smaller hands. This becomes more apparent when you’re confined to using the phone with one hand. Although, to be honest, it’s a small price to pay for a brilliant screen. Lastly, the plastic back cover doesn’t slide in too easily.

One of the selling points of the S II is the voice commands feature. I’ve used it a couple of times. It’s not perfect, but it’s a welcome feature. I really didn’t find the need to make it a habit to resort to this feature. The other stuff — great screen, thin design, fast UI — these overshadow the voice commands.

The Samsung Galaxy S II isn’t an official flagship Android device christened by Google. But it is, as of this writing, the best Android smartphone ever made. Amazing screen. Huge display. Fast UI. Light. Thin. Good battery life. This device is close to perfect. It is the only Android device that has actually wow-ed iPhone users when I show it to them.

On a related note, tensions between Apple and Samsung grow.

Camera Photo Samples
These are samples of photos taken with the 8MP camera. I reduced the file size but kept the shots in wide format. Overall, a good camera for multi-purpose use albeit not too great for low light unless flash is turned on.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast and sitting Techbology Editor for The Philippine STAR.

He is also an EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

7 replies on “Samsung Galaxy S II: Best smartphone for 2011?”

The gauntlet has been thrown Apple. =D

Until the new iphone comes out with the oh so juicy iOS5, this should be the king of the smartphones. 🙂

Blah.. Anung apps naman available jan.. Ganda nga specs BORING NAMAN NG APPS.. iphone4 ftw! Di nmn madistinguish kung samsung hawak mo “payabang wise”.. Same old plastiky handset, unknown.

Nice phone, I read in another blog it has a sibling the Galaxy Z.

Joined your contest for the Corby II, hopefully Samsung decides to raffle off a SGS2 or GalaxyZ or run a promo similar to the 50% off promo by LG for its Optimus 2x. 😀 …

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