Physical Impressions

The button arrangement on SGS2 continues the trend set by the international version of the original SGS, and eschews the search button, instead going with (left to right) menu, home, and back. Of course, regional variants are going to have different button arrangements, but this three-button approach seems to be a mainstay of the international market. When I hand the phone to most people, there’s usually a bit of confusion about what the home button does, and many mistake it for an optical or capacitive trackpad. Instead, the button is just that - a button. They’re backlit, and there are options to define backlighting behavior in the stock ROM - when in the dark, for a few seconds, and so forth.

Update: You can alternatively search by pressing and holding menu. Thanks everyone!

I have to be honest that continuing to shun the search button confuses me. Not just because not having it means we can’t run kwaak3 and get to console without lots of work, but because not having it made me realize how much I use it. Thankfully almost everywhere that I’d use the search button there’s a contextual shortcut - menu, then search. It’s just an added button press in the occasional spot, which can be alien if you’re used to having that button.

As I mentioned earlier, the battery cover is one piece of plastic which pries off and is held on with clips. It isn’t particularly sturdy, so thankfully getting the battery cover off isn’t a harrowing experience. Underneath is the SGS2’s large 6.11 Whr battery, microSD slot, and SIM slot. The microSD card can’t be accessed without a battery pull, and the card clicks in and clicks out. You can get the SIM out without a battery pull, however, and word has it you can even change SIMs without rebooting despite the prompts. At the very top is a ribbon antenna which is pretty evident, and below that is the camera module with adjacent LED flash.

There’s really not much to say about the phone with the battery cover off, everything is perfect here, and it’s clear just how much of the device’s internal volume is dedicated to the SGS2's relatively large 6.11 Whr battery.

Overall the SGS2’s in-hand feel is much better than its predecessor - it’s incredible how much a different back texture and 1.6mm of reduced waistline can make a phone feel. Where I waver back and forth is the weight department. The competition has largely gone in a design direction that employs metal and thus results in heavier devices. As a result, SGS2’s light weight seems to imply a certain level of cheapness where really there is none. I guess that’s the problem - even though SGS2 has metal internally for structure, the exterior is entirely plastic, and that’s what’s ultimately the material that sets user perception. The good thing is that though it feels light, SGS2 has solid build quality.

There are no rattles when the vibrator is going, no flimsy parts that might snap off or break (like the old microUSB door), and few places where dirt can encroach. There’s also very little flex. It’s impressively solid after you get over the hurdle that is its light weight.

Physical Comparison
  Apple iPhone 4 HTC Sensation Samsung Galaxy S Samsung Galaxy S 2
Height 115.2 mm (4.5") 126.3 mm (4.97") 122.4 mm (4.82") 125.3 mm (4.93")
Width 58.6 mm (2.31") 65.5 mm (2.58") 64.2 mm (2.53") 66.1 mm (2.60")
Depth 9.3 mm ( 0.37") 11.6 mm (0.46") 9.9 mm (0.39") 8.49 mm (0.33")
Weight 137 g (4.8 oz) 148 g (5.22 oz) 119 g (4.20 oz) 115 g (4.06 oz)
CPU Apple A4 @ ~800MHz 1.2 GHz Dual Core Snapdragon MSM8260 1.0 GHz Hummingbird S5PC110 Cortex A8 1.2 GHz Exynos 4210 Dual Core Cortex A9
GPU PowerVR SGX 535 Adreno 220 PowerVR SGX 540 ARM Mali-400
RAM 512MB LPDDR1 (?) 768 MB LPDDR2 512 MB LPDDR2 1 GB LPDDR2
NAND 16GB or 32GB integrated 4 GB NAND with 8 GB microSD Class 4 preinstalled 16 GB NAND with up to 32 GB microSD 16 GB NAND with up to 32 GB microSD
Camera 5MP with LED Flash + Front Facing Camera 8 MP AF/Dual LED flash, VGA front facing 5 MP AF, VGA front facing 8 MP AF/LED flash, 2 MP front facing
Screen 3.5" 640 x 960 LED backlit LCD 4.3" 960 x 540 S-LCD 4.0" 800 x 480 SAMOLED 4.27" 800 x 480 SAMOLED+
Battery Integrated 5.254Whr Removable 5.62 Whr Removable 5.92 Whr Removable 6.11 Whr

 

Intro and Physical Impressions Software - Android 2.3.3 and TouchWiz 4.0
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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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