Samsung’s Galaxy S II has remained faithful to the original, but despite the improvements under the hood, can such a simple design still ignite the same level of passion?
From zero to four in a matter of months, there are already some very tough choices to be made when choosing which one of the new dual-core smartphones to invest your hard-earned in.
Everything needs an edge, and just as Samsung was about to begin shipping the Galaxy S II, news surfaced of HTC’s Sensation with a 1.2GHz dual-core processor – outdoing the Samsung by 0.2GHz.
With Samsung’s ability to get products to market quickly, the manufacturer seemed unfazed by this news and simply decided to boost the Galaxy S II processor to match the HTC. Job done.
However, the models destined for the UK then lost NFC – although not necessarily because of the speed boost. We’re told there’s no NFC hardware inside the phone at all, so don’t expect a software update to magically enable it later on.
Given Samsung has launched an NFC-enabled handset for the new Orange ‘QuickTap’ service run in conjunction with Barclaycard, this does seem like a rather odd move and also means we can probably expect an updated model later in the year that restores this feature.
If you’re keen to be ready for mobile payments, you may have to hold on (or opt for the Samsung-built Google Nexus S) but we’re not sure whether NFC is really going to big enough in 2011 to warrant waiting for.
Of all the current dual-core smartphones, many have some unique stand-out features, like the Motorola ATRIX’s biometric fingerprint reader or the qHD-resolution display present on both the Motorola and HTC’s Sensation (the latter also having the excellent HTC Sense enhancements).
The Galaxy S II, especially without NFC, only wins out by being the slimmest dual-core model. The other feature is the incredibly bright AM-OLED screen, which Samsung calls ‘Super AM-OLED Plus’.
The phone isn’t heavy either, at just 116g, although this is as a result of being constructed from fairly cheap materials.
Missing the grade
While the Galaxy S II may be Samsung’s flagship smartphone, it just doesn’t come close to the premium feel of the HTC Sensation. However, anyone that liked the original Galaxy S and is ready to upgrade will feel comfortable that the next model hasn’t made any radical changes.
There’s still the centre ‘home’ key that probably helped attract all that unwanted attention from Apple, and two hidden touch-sensitive keys for menu and back.
These can be illuminated if you want, either permanently or for a limited time, but once you know which is which, it looks quite slick having the lighting disabled completely.
On the back of the phone, you have an 8-megapixel camera that can also record HD video at both 720 and 1080P resolutions. With the incredibly bright and somewhat over-saturated OLED display, your pictures and videos will look incredibly vivid when viewed back, but this will probably lead to some disappointment when viewed on a normal monitor, or TV via HDMI, where the colours are far more neutral.