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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  • tipoo - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    The iPhone 4 always scores near the bottom of the 2.0 test since its native resolution is so high, but I'd be interested to know how it does with the resolution independent 2.1 test? Reply
  • B3an - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    ...but the iPhone 4 is already in the 2.1 tests which are all run at 1280x720 so it's equal on every phone... and unsurprisingly it's the worst performer. Reply
  • Lucian Armasu - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    The iPhone 4 has a GPU that is one generation older than the one in the first Galaxy S phone. So that's the main reason why it performs the worst in all these GPU tests. Reply
  • LostViking - Saturday, September 17, 2011 - link

    You can do the math already.

    If you calculate the pixel ratio (width * height) between the iPhone and the others you can correct the numbers.
    Reply
  • 3lackdeath - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    When are you guys going to start adding WP7 to the Comparisons list WP7 is soooo lacking in your reviews.

    It has been out for a while now you know, a long long time did i say long?.
    Reply
  • shamalh108 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Hi Brian.. first off thanks for the great review..its quite honestly the best I've read on the SGS2..

    As an SGS2 user i need to just testify to my experience of the AOS bug..
    This bug or its effects aren't actually experienced by me while the phone is actually in use, but actually results in a dramatic use of battery when in suspend.. it is intermittent so it won't occur all the time but over the last month I've been able to identify it using battery monitor pro.
    what i find is that in the morning when unplugged i can put my edge data on and then leave the phone in standby for up to two hours and see no drain... if i then proceed to use the phone for about 20min and note the battery percentage , i then lock the phone and leave it in standby again with edge data enabled and push email... after closing all tasks but the battery percentage will drop by up to 10% in those two hours while battery monitor pro reports an estimate usage of 100+ mah ..compared to the same running conditions it was in when just unplugged and consumed almost no power. this isn't always the case though sometimes the phone will only drop 2% or less per hour with the battery monitor pro reporting usage of 25~35 mah ... As you can see this bug actually affects standby time more than nonstop usage and that is probably why the benchmarks havent been affected.. also im not sure if its normal but when the phone is experiencing the high usage and i look at the process cpu usage the events and suspend process are consuming around 15~20% cpu... this checked immediately after unlocking the phone using watchdog task manager pro.
    while i understand all the measurements are estimates .. i really feel the effects of this as with the same usage i can't be certain if ill get the 14hours battery life i need or 10.. what is the normal power consumption for an android phone in suspend as I've noticed my brothers HTC desire consistently consumes 10~15mah in standby with a similar set up..

    again thanks for the great review..
    my international SGS2 is running stock with no root , XXKF3 .
    Reply
  • willstay - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    I have been using SGS2 for two months now and this is my 3rd Android. In the past, I always flashed closest to stock ROM, now after 2 months, I think google should consider touchWiz kindof UI as default. It is really minimalistic with just few tiny bit feature that makes it way better than stock - folders and page scrolling where I can put important apps in page 1, system apps in page 2 and so on.

    One consistent touchWiz feature to swipe contacts left for message and right for call is a must have.

    I must be having over sensitive eye that comfortable brightness level I use during day (indoor) is zero and for evening and night, I am using app called "Screen Filter" to make it dimmer. (I know this is only me - for my laptop I had to hack drivers to make it dimmer than allowed normally).

    When idle, processor goes back to 200 MHz and normally with wifi off, cellular net off, SGS2 lives through the night depleting only 1% of the battery. When I only use it for phone and sms, I get two days. Most of the time when I have access to desktop, I turn off wifi and push mail. My usual battery indicator runs as follows - fully charged before going to sleep - 99% when I wake up - I turn wifi and push mail on and by the time I move out to office it is 97% - wifi off in office but sometimes on when I move out of my desk to run SIP client and get my desk extension routed to phone and by lunch time it is 90% - push mail on and cellular net on during lunch time 86% - when I reach home it is from 80 to 75% - that is when my phone gets highest load of games, browsing, wifi, pushmail until I plug for charing around 11 pm and before I plug in it is usally 30%. For comparison, the lowly Nokia 1280 I am using for backup ran for 15 days in single charge and there was still 1/5 bar left in it.

    "light weight seems to imply a certain level of cheapness" - people will soon start to understand weight has no correlation with quality and when devices grow bigger and bigger, they will appreciate lighter weight design.

    As for me, this is my first Samsung and I am impressed!! Unfortunagely SGS2 has short life it seems - I am so impressed with this light weight, thinness, SAMOLED+, touchWiz that I am getting SG-Note at whatever cost when it comes out :)
    Reply
  • shamalh108 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    hey willstay.. wow ! please help me , how are you getting such astonishing battery life ? what Rom are you on ? is your phone used at all during the day ? i simply can not get that kinda standby consumption between my few use periods during the day.. i love my phone and right now its just the battery life that's frustrating me.. why are the reports so varied .. any info you have would be welcome :) Reply
  • ph00ny - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    I'm also getting a full day of usage like the user above. I ran stock rom forever until i ventured over to the some of the newer custom roms and i'm getting slightly less battery life with the newest sensation 1.6 rom (2.3.4) compared to stock and cognition 1.07. Reply
  • willstay - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    I am using default ROM but flashed kernel for rooting. I guess it must be rouse app. I've found Location And Security -> Use Wireless Networks eats up around 7% of battery through night (which otherwise is only 1%). Sometimes service called MediaService (after I've played songs through Btooth) eats up around 25% through sleep hours. Once I used very nice network bandwidth monitoring app to find individual data usage, it was sipping 25% during sleep hours (I install this app only when I need it). Pushmail on low signal cellular network eats battery like hell - my phone gets warm at the back. Interestingly, always-on low light digital clock of app NoLED eats only 20% through night. For most of the bug related drainage, flushing RAM helps.

    If I were you, I would temporarily uninstall few apps at a time to find the culprit. You may be able to short list possible apps through battery usage tool of the phone too.
    Reply

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