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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  • VivekGowri - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    I literally cannot wait to read this article, and I similarly cannot wait for SGS2 to launch in the US. Reply
  • ImSpartacus - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    You guys don't get early access to drafts? Reply
  • niva - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    I own an original Galaxy S, until it's been proven that Samsung updates to the latest Android within a month after major releases I will not buy anything but a Nexus phone in the future (assuming I even go with Android). By the time that decision has to be made I'm optimistic there will be unlocked WP7 Nokias available. Reply
  • Havor - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Seriously , whats the problem, I was running 2.2 and 2.3 when they came out, could have them sooner, I just dont like to run roms with beta builds.

    So you never heard of Rooting and Custom Roms?

    Its the nature of companies to have long and COSTLY eternal testing routs, done mainly by people with 9 to 5 jobs, as delivering buggy roms is bad for there name, but then so is not updating to but its lots less hurtful, as most people dont care or know any better.

    Next to that if your phone is a phone is customized with extra crapeware by your provider it can be that it takes months before you get a update even do Samsung delivered one a long time ago.

    The rooting scene is totally different, its done by nerds with passion for what they do, and yes the early/daily builds have bugs but also get mouths quicker reported and fixed by the scene.
    And imho are the final updates just as stable as the factory builds.

    Dont like how your Android is working?
    Stop bitching and fixed your self, its not that hard, as it is a OS platform, just make sure you can root your phone, before you buy it.

    The following website explains it all.
    http://androidforums.com/galaxy-s-all-things-root/...
    http://androidforums.com/galaxy-s-all-things-root/
    Reply
  • vision33r - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    If it's your personal phone, you can do whatever you want. However like some of us here with jobs that let us pick phones. One requirement is the phone has to be stock and no rooting allowed.

    Samsung is about the worst of the 3 makers in terms of software updates.
    Reply
  • niva - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Seriously calm down, I've heard plenty about rooting and custom roms but phone hackery is not something I'm interested in right now. I don't have the time or energy for it. I shouldn't have to manually go through rooting and updating my phone, especially when security issues are involved.

    I like the way 2.2 is working on the SGS. I bought this phone from a friend who upgraded and it's not something I would've paid the retail price for. I've not run into anything so far that's made me actually bother with the rooting and manual upgrade process. I've not read into rooting the phone or updating it, but I'm sure if I get into it this will take me a long time (hours/days) which I shouldn't need to sacrifice to run the latest version of the OS.

    From the political standpoint the blame is both on Samsung and T-Mobile apparently in terms of getting the new revisions out.

    From my personal standpoint I despise all companies who do not use the default Android distro, running skins and secondary apps, on the phones they ship out. While some of the things they do are nice, it slows down their ability to keep up with android revisions.

    On the other hand, my wife's Nexus (original one) updates faster than internet posts saying Android 2.3.x has been rolled out. It's friggin awesome. She had one problem with battery draining really fast after a recent upgrade but I managed to fix that after a couple of hours of forum searching and trying different things.

    So it's simple, if I will buy another Android in the future, it will be a Nexus phone, where I know from personal experience that everything works in terms of having the latest and greatest. Notice the Nexus S is made by Samsung, it's for the most part identical to the phone I have, yet gets the updates immediately and doesn't have the known security problems I'm exposed to.
    Reply
  • ssj4Gogeta - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Well, the international version got 2.3.3 around ~3 months ago here (and earlier for other countries). Reply
  • poohbear - Tuesday, September 13, 2011 - link

    vision33r u dont know what you're talking about. People bitch and complaina bout software updates, but how are the quality of those updates? when its updated too soon there are bugs and ppl complain, updated later ppl complain about the wait times. I remember last year Motorola said they're not updating their XT720 to android 2.2., they're leaving it at 2.1. S korea Motorola was the only branch that decided to do it, but guess what? 2.2 was too much for the hardware in the XT720 to handle, and it ran slooooow! XT720 users all over complained about it, but the reality is the phone couldnt handle it. 90% of smartphone users want something stable that works, they dont care about having the latest and greatest Android build. So if Samsung errs on the side of quality and takes more time to release stable quality software, then all the power to them! Reply
  • anishannayya - Friday, September 23, 2011 - link

    Actually, if updates are your hard-on, then you'd likely be looking at Motorola in the future (due to the Google acquisition).

    The entire reason why the Nexus lines of phones are quick to get updates is because the are co-developed with Google. As a result, these phones are the ones the Google developers are using to test the OS. When it is ready to go, it is bug free on the device, so Samsung/HTC can roll it out immediately.

    At the end of the day, any locked phone is plagued by carrier bloatware, which is the biggest slowdown in software release. Just buy an unlocked phone, like this one, in the future.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    It's awesome to see this article finally
    I'm glad François Simond aka supercurio contributed to the article

    Btw that slot on the left is for the hand strap which is very popular in asia for accessory attachments
    Reply

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