Our impressions with the Galaxy S II are very positive, it's much improved over the Galaxy S. Probably the most immediately appreciable change is the completely different screen and in-hand feel. Samsung's Super AMOLED Plus display does away with the PenTile grid that graced the original set of AMOLED displays, and instead uses an RGB line array just like a normal LCD. 

At the same time, Samsung is advertising response rates of below 1 ms, improved gamut, and viewing angles. From what we saw, Super AMOLED Plus was impressive, and having a 4.3" screen doesn't seem unmanageable compared to 4".  

The backside of the Galaxy S II is completely changed - thank goodness. Gone is the super-slick and scratch prone glossy plastic. In its stead is a textured surface that won't show aging nearly as much. The entire back doesn't peel up to reveal the battery, just square shaped area. During our testing and just playing with the Galaxy S II, the phone seemed to get inordinately hot, much hotter than I remember any other smartphone getting. It's also impressively thin - just 8.48 mm compared to the already super thin 9.91 of the old Galaxy S, and thinner than the iPhone 4's 9.3 mm. 

Almost all of the button placement is the same as the old Galaxy S, what's curiously different is the presence of a center home button and removal of the Android search button. It's amazing how integral the search button really is - in some contexts (namely kwaak3) it's the only way to bring up menus since it used to be a button every Android device was guaranteed to have. Whether this is something that will change in carrier-specific versions is something that remains to be seen. 

The Galaxy S II has an HSPA+ baseband with 21.1 Mbps downstream support. It's unclear whether any of the networks here at MWC have HSPA+, so although we ran speedtests, we're not sure if they're representative. 

 

The Exynos Powered Galaxy S II
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  • halcyon - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    EU carriers have shipped 2.2 in 2010 and 2.2.1 in 2011.

    It *is* the US carriers.

    Sorry to say, but US carriers are the only ones lagging behind.
    Reply
  • jmcb - Thursday, February 17, 2011 - link

    Its both the carrier and Samsung....like soilnear mentioned, look at HTC, Motorola in the US.

    Look at the Droid 1 vs the Milestone. The Droid one has been taken care of very good with updates. Look at the Milestone update situation.

    Its the same phone, the Droid 1 is just the US version. And it doesnt explain how HTC phones are updated the best outta all the Android manufactures, US and overseas.

    All the blame cant be on the US carriers.
    Reply
  • warisz00r - Monday, February 14, 2011 - link

    I'd like to hear more of it... Presently it seems that Samsung made the sacrifice in thermal management in order to to cram a larger screen, dual-core application processor AND a beefier battery into the super-thin shell. Reply
  • Devo2007 - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    The button layout looks the same as the International version of the Galaxy S phone (i9000). It is also the same as the Bell Mobility Samsung Vibrant (i9000M) phone.

    What I'm curious on is whether it uses the same Wolfson WM8994 audio module as the i9000. I'm VERY happy with the audio quality of my i9000 when listening to music (especially after installing a custom ROM with Voodoo Sound).
    Reply
  • softdrinkviking - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    I noticed a lot of complaints about stability with previous samsung phones. Any comments about stabilty with the galaxy s 2? Reply
  • Belard - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    As an owner of a Samsung Captive.... which does have a great looking and feeling metal back, and just as thin as the other Samsung Galaxy S phones...(I'll call GS1) they need to REALLY WORK on functionality.

    I love the AMOLED screen... and would love to see a "retina resolution" version of AMOLED.

    The GS1 phone is ALREADY wider and taller than I like, and I have fairly large hands for a guy. Its harder to get in and out of pockets and requires a bit of stretching of the fingers.

    Design flaws of pretty much ALL GS1 phones.... all fixable.

    1 - STOP trying to make the phone SO DAMN THIN! I'm still more comfortable with my previous old dumb-phone which is thicker, but smaller area.

    2 - Making the phone thicker means making the battery bigger... which an Android phone can use!

    3 - The 4" screen is fine, but work on making the bezel around the screen SMALLER.

    4 - FIX the STUPID SOFTWARE that can only be downloaded from Samsung's website... you know, so you can possibly allow your Windows7 computer talk to the phone... but guess what? IT DOESN'T WORK. KIES is crap. Windows can't even see the phone as a regular "flash drive" - we get driver errors. WTF?! How hard is this? My old SONY dumb phone talked just fine with Windows.

    5 - How about the ability to UPDATE the current GS1 phones to FROYO? Android 2.2 has been out for how long? It supposed to fixes so many problems with GS1 phones... where is it?

    6 - (Part of the thinness problem) - The WEAK rear facing SPEAKER makes my Samsung a HORRIBLE alarm, which I need. My old SONYs were far louder and they vibrated. Put the speakers on the FRONT - top part of the phone or at the bottom (ala iPhone). Make them a bit bigger with more power.

    7 - Physical buttons for HOME, Menu, Search... Makes for feeling the HOME button much better.

    8 - Don't make th bottom look like the top. I'm constantly having to re-orient the phone.

    9 - The side power-button on the Captive sucks. Its flush. But on other GS1 phones, they made it slightly larger which makes a difference.

    Perhaps they need to learn how to make a better phone... before making a wider-bigger un-wielding phone that has old flaws.

    Other than the screen... there isn't much to like when it comes to actually using a GS1 phone. And yet, it is considered among the best of the Android phones.

    I'm not impressed.
    Reply
  • mwarner1 - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    You could always try flashing a Custom ROM such as Darky's (http://darky.ficeto.com/) on your Captivate - it would at least allow you to upgrade to Android 2.2.1 & solve all the issues you may have on the software side.

    It really surprises me how many people seems to complain about the US Galaxy S phones being stuck on 2.1, but do not seem to know about / wish to try some of the (excellent) Custom ROMs out there. I thought Anandtech visitors were pretty tech-literate!?
    Reply
  • erple2 - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    Normally, I'd agree with you. However, going with a custom, hacked ROM that's not 100% supported in a device that I can't live without for an extended period of time (if something goes wrong), and if something does go wrong, there's not much I can do to fix it, flashing it to 2.2.1 while interesting and tempting, ultimately falls flat.

    I don't know who Darky is. I don't trust people that I don't know. While the site may have been vetted, I don't want to put my own security in the hands of someone that I have no recourse with. Before you say "but thousands of other people have done it", or "I've heard it's perfectly safe", or "I haven't seen any problems with it", have you fully explored every last dark corner of the device? Have you looked at the source of the custom ROM that Darky put together to ensure that it's not doing something nefarious?

    If all of that seems "paranoid" to you, it is. However, my personal data (I use it to log in to Facebook, google, twitter, and just about everything else) is very important to me. Do I trust Samsung or AT&T to do a better job holding on to that? No, but there is at least recourse with them.
    Reply
  • mwarner1 - Tuesday, February 15, 2011 - link

    You are correct - it is your device & data, so you should be careful, especially if it is vital to your work and also if you have not tried something like this before.

    Having said that I have used many custom ROMs for a number of different phones on different OSes and not had any unfixable issues with them. I have actually created a few custom ROMs myself for my previous device (a Samsung i8910), so I have a good appreciation of the process and risks or lack thereof.

    The good thing about Android is that is really extremely difficult to 'brick' a device and also rather straightforward to back your data up before flashing any firmwares.

    I realise it is not for everyone, but I am surprised by the number of comments on Anandtech with relation to the Galaxy S about how annoyed they are that Android 2.2 has not been released for the device (for at least for US variants), and it seems that none of the posters have explored the custom ROM scene. I am genuinely surprised that on a fairly high tech site like Anandtech that this is the case.

    Incidentally, I am currently using Darky's version 9.2 on my International Galaxy S and am very pleased with it, hence the recommendation. It is perhaps the most highly regarded of the Custom Galaxy S ROMs for a good reason.
    Reply
  • Belard - Wednesday, February 16, 2011 - link

    As a customer of a $200(on contract) phone device from a higher regarded product from the #1 largest company in S.Korea which is a major player in the electronics business.

    WE SHOULDN'T NEED TO USE HACKS TO FIX OUR DEVICES!

    I'm reading up on Darky... some are having battery issues. The site isn't exactly clear of what you're getting. The feature list is good. Its still a hack of mixing 2.2 and 2.3 together.

    - No warranty, if it bricks a phone - Samsung or at&t or whoever is going to fix it?

    - Trust? Who is Darky? Are his servers secured from external hackers? Who does he work for? He could be a really nice guy, but he is able to do the job of thousands?

    - No hack is going to fix the physical design flaws of the phone. Kies is still useless crap (nice word for it) The speaker is still weak and the phone is generally a pain to use. In ways, more so than my previous slider.

    I'm wishing I went with the SONY phone, I didn't because it didn't have a AMOLED screen... the USB-charge connector has a stupid cheap rubber cover that is a pain to open and it came with Android 1.6!?! But guess what? SONY has released the 2.2 for that phone already.

    Gee, how hard is that?! Sony is much newer to Android than Samsung is.
    Reply

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