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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  • shamalh108 - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Thanks alot, going to do that today, however if you read my post above im not sure its an individual app causing it. Maybe i should root so i can wipe the battery stats and recalibrate, besides that im also going to purchase the offical extended battery from samsung, i dont mind losing slight slimness:) Reply
  • ph00ny - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    I didn't even bother with rooting for a month or two until i wanted to try out chainfire plugins. Even in stock form, battery life was great. certainly better than my captivate.

    One thing to understand about SAMOLED screen is that it uses 0 power on black pixel and more power on white pixels. So maybe try out a darker themed wall paper and also check to see if you have widgets that have tendency to use up more juice than an alternative

    Also for an example, samsung's stock music app uses roughly half of Google's music app power consumption. It gets worse with spotify (offline mode of course)
    Reply
  • Remeniz - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    The trick is to adjust the power saving features to suit and make sure very little is going on in the back ground. I only run GPS if I need too and the WiFi gets turned off when i'm out and about, unless I know i'm in a WiFi zone and want to browse the www.

    I get at least a days use out of my SGS2.
    Reply
  • supercurio - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Note:

    "When idle, processor goes back to 200 MHz"

    Idle - screen on or an using a wakelock to keep the device on its the case.
    Otherwise the whole CPU is turned literally OFF − everything frozen in RAM.

    And in this situation, the baseband, Wi-fi chip or an external timer will wake up the CPU and restore Linux kernel in a working state when needed, like if you received a new mail, or a phone call.

    I precise that because most people believe the CPU stays ON all the time but it's the opposite, with standard usage, the CPU is ON only a fraction of the day.
    Reply
  • Lucian Armasu - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Brian, I don't think it's fair to compare the "tablet" version of A5 with the "smartphone" version of the Exynos and all the other chips. Even Nvidia's Tegra 2 has either 50% or 100% higher clock frequency for its GPU in the tablets, compared to the one in smartphones.

    It's very likely that all tablet chips are more powerful than the smartphones ones, and for all we know the iPhone 5 GPU will only one 1 GPU core instead of 2 like in the iPad 2, or they'll be clocked at a lower frequency.

    I know you'll review the iPhone 5, too, but I think you're setting a too low expectation for the Exynos and the others compared to the "A5 chip". You know what I mean? You should've at least thrown a Xoom or a Transformer in there to see how it fairs against the Tegra 2 phones.

    I hope at least you'll correct this in future reviews. Great review otherwise, though.
    Reply
  • privater - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    An iPad 2 can run sun spider 0.9 with 1980 score (4.3.5)
    If the Exynos is superior on every aspect of A5, the result is difficult for me to understand.
    Reply
  • Lucian Armasu - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Just as I mentioned above, it's not fair to compare the tablet versions with the phone versions of the chips. All the latest smartphones get around 4000 in the Sun Spider test, but all tablets get around 2000 in that test, so even on the CPU side, it's still not a fair comparison. Reply
  • Mike1111 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Great review!

    But why are you so late with the review of the INTERNATIONAL version? I mean I would get it if you decided to wait for the US versions, but waiting almost 4 1/2 months and then publish a review of the international version only a week before the US versions get released? Seems strange to me...
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Brian said in the other reviews comment sections that he was waiting to get ahold of a review unit. I did offer mine if he was nearby but he's nearly on the west coast and i live in the opposite side of the country Reply
  • shamalh108 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Another pity is that even games from gameloft which are supposed to be adapted to the SGS2 cause significant heating of the phone.. for example the Asphalt 6 available for free in Samsung Apps .. it would be great if more games were coded to make better use of the SGS2 gpu ... Reply

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