Samsung Galaxy S II: iPhone 4 Fighter First Class


The really sleek and powerful Samsung Galaxy S II

Following up from an earlier review (read here), I managed to get my hands on this “not-so-little” baby of a pda phone. I find the Galaxy S II in a similar looking packaging as the Blackberry, in a cute little black box which is not much bigger than the device itself.

That aside, I unpacked and spent a good week on it practically as my primary phone and here is what I discovered with all its beauty plus a few blemishes which I trust will be rectified soon.

My conclusion is this: A definite iPhone 4 Killer!

And here is why.

Bigger and Lighter

Immediately, the large 4.2″ Super AMOLED screen is surely attractive. Once picked up, the weight was far less than expected. In fact, it is lighter than the iPhone 4 with a larger viewing area.

Problem that men will have is that it will fit very well in the breast pocket of your shirt but not quite pleasant in the trouser pocket. These are the two places most men will place their devices. As for the ladies, they have no problem fitting it into their handbags, even a purse.

Usage Experience

The use of the Galaxy S II is extremely pleasant. It compares really well to the iPhone 4 too. The menu screen slides well as it changes with no lagging felt. The power graphics chipset in the Galaxy S II makes the device work so smoothly. Samsung has included their own TouchWiz UI on top of the Gingerbread OS 2.3. Both are available and you can switch back and forth easily.

Applications work very well. The dual-core Galaxy S II has all the power it needs to grant you a wonderful user experience indeed.

Application Suite

The Android Market still trails behind the Apple App Store. However, there are still many great apps that are already made available on the Android platform. A few fun ones include Angry Bird, GT Racing, Doodle Jump, Fruit Ninja to name a few. And the larger screen of the Galaxy S II certainly allows you to have more viewing space to play with.

As with the Apple iPhone 4 which one can “jailbreak” (not advisable) to install paid apps without iTunes, the Galaxy S II already allows “cracked” apps (not advisable too) to be installed without any problems using Apk Installer. If you find any Android apps from the Internet and you have been warned to attempt at your own peril, you can copy them to the /Download folder and use Apk Installer to install them. Easy!

(The reason downloading Android apps from the open Internet is dangerous because although you can get “illegal” apps, you also get bad apps that won’t work or worse still hang your device. But if you are the bold and willing to try, this is an interesting experiment.)

Once you are done testing them, you can easily uninstall from the Galaxy S II from the built-in Settings->Applications->Manage Applications or from the Task Manager. Android doesn’t hamper your freedom in this case. Again, you have been warned if you attempt to install without downloading from the App Market.

A few apps that deserve mention here includes SwiftKey X (excellent keyboard replacement), Papago! (for MalSing maps and directions), Aldiko (reader with bookshelf), ScanToPDF (photo in PDF format), ABBYY BCR (name card scanner), XE Currency (currency exchange info), PCM Recorder, Viber/Tango (free calls and sms), Profiles (ringing profile for different times), Go SMS Pro (an SMS app replacement), Polaris Office and a host of other free apps that’s quite useful. Although the number of apps are fewer than the Apple AppStore, you will find that there are quite adequate number of very useful apps that will complement your Galaxy S II very well to make it a choice device.

Fantastic 8MP Camera

The Galaxy S II comes with an 8MP camera and gives great pictures. To get the equivalent of the iPhone 4 HDR effects, there are 3rd party apps available like HDR Camera that gives fantastic results. Explore the App Market and you will find an incredible number of camera apps for your liking.

Certainly, with an 8MP, the video is first class. Even in dim lighting, it can produce excellent HD video at 1080p. Since this is not a pro-video camera, as all other PDA Phone cameras, you are best advised to take your photos or videos under good lighting so that you won’t be disappointed.

Challenging Battery Life

Given the larger screen, the battery life is one of the most significant challenges you will face with the Galaxy S II. You can’t have it all, I guess. Typically, the screen consumes up to 40% of the battery life. The GSM phone does not take up that much battery life unless you have long call minutes.

Basically, you get a decent day’s use of the Galaxy S II with a full charge at the beginning of the day. However, if you are an ardent user of Wifi or playing games during the day, note that both of these features will use up the battery much faster than normal.

Somehow, you will need a good regiment of battery saving techniques to prolong the life of the battery, even at 1650 mAH. Remember to turn off WIFI, GPS and 3G when you don’t need them. They will drain your battery faster than usual. Also, in some strange cases, badly programmed apps can also drain the battery. The Galaxy S II is a multitasking phone which means that apps will run in the background at the same time you are using it for something else. As such, remember to regularly check your Task Manager and kill off those programs that are not needed and not closed properly.

Temporary Drawbacks

One of the biggest downside to the Galaxy S II and purely because of Android is that it cannot join an ad hoc network. If you share your Internet from your Windows PC using ad hoc wireless setup, the Galaxy S II will not be able to connect. It is a known Android limitation but it will be fixed in the next release of OS.

There are workarounds available but it requires your Galaxy S II to be “rooted” or taking over the root control of the OS. You will probably lose your warranty by doing so. Not for the casual users for sure.

But if you are those who have a mobile internet plan,this limitation is not really a problem at all. Moreover, you can turn your Galaxy S II into an instant hotspot. This is standard with Android now.

Besides this one, I can’t really think of anything else that’s a negative for the Galaxy S II. Just watch the use of the battery and install Juice Extender if you have the chance and perhaps you can get a bit more out of the device. Keep the brightness of the screen to the minimum you can tolerate and that will work out really well.

Conclusion

I love the Samsung Galaxy S II and it does give the Apple iPhone 4 a definite run for its money. Yes, I daresay that the Galaxy S II competes head on with the iPhone 4 and very well too. Those who are not a particular fan of the iPhone 4 will find the Galaxy S II a MUST HAVE. It is now the KING OF THE PHONES amongst the PDA Phones in the Android and Windows class of devices.

There are rumors that Galaxy S III will be out in 2012 with a triple-core chipset.

With Galaxy S II, we have a Netbook on the palm. With the Galaxy S III, we’ll have a PC on the palm then.

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