Samsung Galaxy S II expert review
Galaxy S II is a big step up from the original Galaxy S, with a larger, sharper Super Amoled screen, more storage and internal memory, plus a snappy 1.2GHz dual core Arm Cortex-A9 that makes multitasking easy. It may have been recently superseded by the Galaxy S III, but this is still one of the best looking, slickest Android smartphones on the market. You should get a great deal on it too, now that the newer model is out.
- Faster performance, bigger screen and better colour depth than the original Samsung Galaxy plus more internal storage, upgradable to Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich), slim and sleek design
- Slightly reduced battery life (improved with firmware updates), plastic shell (but this does make the phone very light for its size)
The Samsung Galaxy S II is very thin, with a light plastic shell that weighs just 116g. It’s lighter than the iPhone 4S, with a bigger 4.3” screen that makes web browsing, gaming and app use easier. The display uses Super Amoled Plus technology that makes it sharper, brighter and more energy-efficient. The plastic shell won't suit everyone, it does feel less premium than the ceramic casing on the HTC One X, but it's easier to cart around with you and less wieldy.
Galaxy S II is still a powerful smartphone, with a 1.2GHz dual core processor, 1GB of RAM for running processes, and 16GB of storage space for your apps, games, music and movies. There’s even a HDMI port for hooking it up to your TV. Don’t worry about having enough storage space - you can add a microSD card (up to 32GB). The 2MP front facing camera is good for web chats (most smartphones currently have VGA resolution secondary cameras so this is a nice improvement), plus on the back there's a capable 8MP main camera that can record mini HD movies in 1080p at 30fps.
Galaxy S II ships with Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) software, but you can upgrade this Over-The-Air by checking for software updates in the settings menu and downloading the update over Wi-Fi. The navigation software provided, Google Maps includes voiced directions and turn-by-turn navigation, plus Street View for a more detailed picture of the area you are looking at. Each of the different mobile networks has added their own games and productivity tools to their branded versions of the Galaxy S II.
Managing your mobile - top tips to help you stop wasting money on calls, texts and data
Changing the way you use your smartphone can help you can keep your monthly bill at a minimum. There are plenty of apps and settings available to minimise the amount of calls, texts and data you use up, here are some handy hints to get you started:
- Long press on an empty spot on the homescreen and select widget > power control to add an easy-to-use battery control unit to your touchscreen and quickly toggle your services on/off to maximise battery life
- Download the free Bill Angel app for Android by Carphone Warehouse, as it can help you monitor your mobile usage and stay on top of how you’re using your smartphone. You enter your monthly allowance details and the app will start tracking your calls, texts and data usage, alerting you when you reach your limit. Bill Angel is currently only available for Android-powered smartphones. You can download it from Google Play
- When you don't need to be connected (for instance if you're on the train or in a meeting), turn off your data connections by going to settings > wireless and networks > mobile networks > untick 'data enabled'. This will disable 3G. To disable location-based services go to settings > location based services >GPS. This will give you more battery life
- Download Skype for Android and use it over Wi-Fi to make free voice calls to your family and friends (this will conserve your call allowance)
- Download WhatsApp Messenger for Android and use it to send text-like messages to your contacts without using up your SMS allowance
The Samsung Galaxy S II is available now from Carphone Warehouse.