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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  • 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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