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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  • 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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