Battery

Even though it’s almost at the end of our review, battery life is hugely important, and measuring up how SGS2 does compared to the competition is a large part of what makes things pretty positive for the device. As a reminder, we measure battery life by having the browser load through a few dozen pages with brightness set on 200 nits until the phone dies, on both WiFi and cellular (WCDMA). The SGS2 has a capacious 6.11 Whr battery, which is among a small number of devices I’ve seen that come with over a 6 Whr battery by default.

Smartphone Web Browsing Battery Life

WiFi Web Browsing Battery Life

3G Talk Time Battery Life

The SGS2 outperforms its predecessors pretty handily, and I’ve highlighted in orange those results from the Galaxy S 4G and Fascinate. When you factor in that SGS 4G has the same capacity 6.11 Whr battery, it’s obvious how much of the gains are both SAMOLED+ efficiency and a dual core SoC.

WiFi Hotspot Battery Life Time

In the WiFi hotspot test, the SGS2 actually trounces everything else I’ve seen thus far as well, edging out the Inspire 4G. As a reminder, that test consists of loading 4 sets of the page load test alongside a 128 kbps MP3 stream with the display off until the phone dies.

The last thing to talk about with respect to battery life is the infamous “AOS Bug,” where AOS references the Android OS line item in the battery use window. I’ve read just about everything there is I could find on this bug, and believe it to just be related to how Android reports this metric based on CPU time that a process and its children use. Some have speculated this is something which has showed up with dual core SoCs. To be completely honest, I don’t put much stock in the line-item breakdown of battery use to begin with, what I look at is the graph view. Either way, the battery numbers above speak for themselves, and SGS2 battery life is definitely superior to the predecessor, AOS issue or not.

Conclusions and Final Thoughts

It’s always difficult to sum up a device like the SGS2, because this is such a major launch and so much has already been written and discovered about the phone. I find myself again thinking back to how long it’s been since we first played with the SGS2 at MWC and just how far the device has come. It literally is a completely different device today than what Anand and I played with chained to a table in Barcelona.


From back at MWC in Barcelona

There’s no doubt in my mind that SGS2 is the most powerful smartphone out right now, both in the synthetics and in just subjective feel. That’s thanks in large part to Exynos 4210’s dual core Cortex A9s at 1.2 GHz and ARM’s Mali–400 GPU. The end result is an experience that’s buttery smooth and rarely shows any signs of being want for more power. Mali–400 alone is twice as fast as any other smartphone GPU out right now, and Exynos 4210 seems likely to vie for performance crown in Android-land until the start of 2012.

The original Galaxy S was a hugely popular Android phone, and thankfully the few issues that were around that generation have been ironed out this second time around. The result is a device that is better in almost every category. Battery life is longer than the predecessor. Performance is much higher. Super AMOLED uses the much more readable RGB stripe. GPS works this go around. Camera stills and video are awesome. The list goes on.


Some Photos Courtesy Sarah Trainor

That said there are still a few lingering areas which the SGS2 wavers. Audio quality from the Yamaha codec in the SGS2 isn’t up to the level of quality the Wolfson was capable of, and there are some potentially frustrating baseband instability issues we ran into as well. There’s also the notable omission of NFC in all but the Korean version of the SGS2, and it looks as though only certain variants coming to the USA will have NFC.

The international market is a whole lot more efficient than the situation we have to deal with here in the USA. Phones launch in largely the form the manufacturer originally intended them to, and as a result there’s a single target for both enthusiast ROM modders and the handset vendor to build and test software on. More and more, it’s really that kind of long-term support that makes a handset valuable, and SGS2 is such a huge success already that it isn’t likely to be obsolete in just a few months, even with Kal-El phones and a new Nexus looming on the horizon.

I really have to admit that I went into this review expecting to be massively underwhelmed with Galaxy S 2. Here we are at the end though, I find my thoughts about the device completely changed. Even taking into account the near term Android roadmap, Galaxy S 2 is the Android smartphone I’d absolutely buy today.

GPU Performance: Staggering
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  • dagamer34 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    On pg 15, Galaxy S uses a SGX 540 GPU, not 530. Other than that, great review! Reply
  • Synaesthesia - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Staggering review, you really are the most comprehensive and scientific reviewer around, bravo!

    Samsung have really impressed with this phone, in terms of how much effort they have invested in the hardware and software. One thing still stands out for me, the battery life. While good, it still doesn't hold a candle to the iPhone 4, as shown on the charts.
    Reply
  • LostViking - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    What do you mean?
    Its about 30% worse when web browsing (mostly because of the much larger screen I reckon), but better in the other tests.

    If you are one of those old timers who actually use the phone for talking the SGSII is about 30 better ;)
    When I am low on battery, and don't have access to a charger, that's usually what I would prioritize.
    Reply
  • xdrol - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    For me the mentioned Cat 5 limit looks reasonable - you don't get user-level 2.0 Mbps because of the overhead of the PDCP/RLC/MACd protocols (about 15% -> 2.0 Mbps is 1.7 Mbps for IP). Reply
  • wilky76 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Alot of people that have the Samsung Galaxy S2 are suffering from framerate problems when using either 720p or 1080p in low light including myself.

    What basically happens is when the camera tries to focus in lowlight the framerates drop to around 13fps, then jump back upto around 30fps again, basically making any HD video recording useless in low light because of the stuttering, the only fix that is known is to drop the exposure to -2 as this stop the stuttering, or use 480p when indoors or poor light.

    Some folks have returned their SGS2 because of this problem, only to receive another with the same problem.

    There has been a couple of camera firmware updates on Samung own app site, which to this date still hasn't sorted the problem out & in some cases people that weren't suffering from this problem, now have it after updating the camera firmware.

    Can any of you guys at Anandtech test your SGS2 in low light with either 720p or 1080p to see if the mobile you received for reviewing also suffer from this problem.

    But what is strange is that not everbody has the framerate problem, so it could be due to which sensor you get with your SGS2, and could proberly be sorted with a firmware update eventually.

    Anyways people with this problem and there is a few can be found in this post over at XDA

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1...
    Reply
  • DrSlump - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Hi, i have exactly the same problem with my samsung galaxy s2.
    I got casual stuttering (a frame loss) during normal light conditions and severe stuttering under low light conditions.
    As soon as the firmware raises the sensor gain to match the detected light, the framerate goes down to 25fps and when autofocus occours the framerate goes down to 13fps, and then returns back to 25fps when the autofocus is finished.
    I olso noticed that when i try to frame a tv or a monitor, severe banding occours. Even taking a video when the light source is a tv or a monitor, banding occours. Seems like the isp isn't able to compensate the frequency of the light source.
    In a lot of situations it's impossible to take a video due to the severe stuttering :(
    Any one of you has these problems? How to solve it?

    I would like to ask to the autor:
    did you notice some problem with the display? There is a thread in the xda-developers forum that speaks about the yellow tinting or faded out left side of the screen. Please can you report about this problem?
    Reply
  • B3an - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Why dont you just admit it's the best phone around hands down? :) Not just the best Android phone. It's clearly miles superior to the outdated iPhone 4.

    Shame you yanks have had to wait forever to get it, only to get 3 different versions that dont even look as good and have ridiculous names. I've been using a GSII since April and it's just unmatched.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    This yank got it on the UK launch day and i've been enjoying it since Reply
  • steven75 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    It's not better in battery life, audio quality, display resolution and sharpness, or the many ways that iOS is better (AirPlay, app selection AND quality), immediate OS updates, etc).

    Gread Android phone though for those interested in 4.3" displays, which definitely isn't everyone. Personally, I'd wait for the Prime.
    Reply
  • steven75 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Oh and outdoor display brightness, which even at 100% isn't a match for iPhone, but then it's even capped at 75% for temp reasons. Reply

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