WiFi, GPS

The SGS2 has both 2.4 and 5 GHz WiFi connectivity courtesy of Broadcom’s newest combo chip, the BCM4330. It is the logical successor to BCM4329, which we saw adopted darn-well almost universally in the previous generation, from the iPhone 4 to SGS1. BCM4330 still is a single spatial stream combo solution, but what’s different is that alongside Bluetooth 4.0+HS support is an on-chip power amp for 5 GHz WLAN in addition to last gen’s 2.4 GHz power amp (or another version which had both). There’s also still FM receive and transmit support.

That puts SGS2 in an incredibly small list of smartphones that include 5 GHz WLAN support, which is critical going forwards as the 2.4 GHz ISM band gets even more crowded. I’ll spare you my usual rant about how at every conference and trade show 2.4 GHz turns into a completely unusable nightmare.

As with every other radio, we have to do the receive sensitivity dance and make sure nothing is broken. I tested the SGS2 alongside an SGS 4G at my house with both an Airport Extreme (5th Gen) and WRT54G-TM boosted to 184 mW. SGS2 WiFi reception on 2.4 GHz is darn near identical to the previous generation.

There’s something deceptive about this however, and it’s that although Samsung has chosen to go the usual compressed-dynamic-range route with cellular bars, the WLAN bars seem to be more linearized. Thus where I’m used to seeing every other smartphone show max (until you’re right about to fall off), the SGS2 actually doesn’t lie to me and shows fewer bars. Until I ran around and looked at RSSI in dBm, I suspected SGS2 had WLAN sensitivity issues where there don’t appear to be any. One small thing I did notice is that SGS2 (and BCM4330) seems to only connect at long guard interval (eg 65 Mbps maximum for single stream, 20 MHz channels), where SGS1 and BCM4329 connected at 72 Mbps short guard interval.

In practice, actually using the 5 GHz radio on SGS2 is a bit challenging, since Android 2.x has no proper prioritization for 5 GHz over 2.4 GHz when presented with the same SSID running on both bands. I’d obviously like to see the less-crowded 5 GHz band used before the more crowded 2.4 GHz band.

WiFi Performance

Performance on 2.4 GHz with BCM4330 in SGS2 is scorching, at 34.6 Mbps when downloading a 100+ MB PDF over the local network. On 5 GHz performance drops a bit for some reason.

GPS

To say that SGS1’s GPS was a disaster is a bit of an understatement, at least on the variants that I got my hands on. What’s worse, for a lot of those phones, GPS is still broken to this day. Thankfully Samsung learned from that experience and didn’t make the same mistake twice, and SGS2 has a different GPS entirely and much better time to first fix as a result.

I mentioned it earlier, but SGS2 uses a SiRFstarIV GSD4t GPS this time around. It’s a bit interesting that Samsung is using a discrete GPS considering the fact that Exynos 4210 has its own integrated GPS baseband.

 

I measured time to a warm fix at around 3–5 seconds with the AGPS data already downloaded, which is pretty in line with modern devices. From a cold start, it’s anywhere between 10–15 seconds, though sometimes faster. I’ve seen faster on some other phones I won’t name, but GPS works this time around, and works well. I took the SGS2 on a 7-hour long road trip with me and used its GPS continually with no issues.

Call Audio

Inside the SGS2 is an Audience 1026 voice processor, which rejects noise which is common between the primary microphone at the bottom of SGS2 and secondary microphone at the top. Discrete noise canceling solutions are pretty par for the course lately, and it’s good to see SGS2 not excluded from that trend.

Inside the SGS2’s excellent ServiceMode menu is an option to enable and disable Audience processing, which naturally we explored. I recorded a call placed from the SGS2 in the presence of very loud background noise with Audience turned on and off, and you can hear the difference between the two, running through the same test. Only at the most extreme ambient volume level is background noise noticeable on SGS2.

Samsung Galaxy S II - Noise Rejection with Audience A1026 by AnandTech

Samsung Galaxy S II - Noise Rejection with Audience A1026 Disabled by AnandTech

Call quality on the SGS2 is a bit more interesting, I placed a test to the local ASOS and recorded it over line-in as we’ve done before. Inside ServiceMenu the device will even show what type of voice coder is used given present network conditions, which is AMR-NB on AT&T.

Samsung Galaxy S 2 - AMR-NB on AT&T by AnandTech

Here the SGS2 doesn’t sound quite as good as other phones I’ve recorded on UMTS, unfortunately.

Speakerphone Volume

Speakerphone is the last thing on the list, and unfortunately at maximum volume during a voice call, the SGS2 doesn't measure extremely well. This is puzzling, since for navigation and other system sounds, the SGS2 is very loud. Clearly something isn't set properly, and the SGS2 has the potential to be louder on speakerphone for calls with appropriate tweaking.

Speakerphone Volume

Cellular Connectivity - HSPA+ and X-Gold 626 Audio Quality Explored by François Simond
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  • ph00ny - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Btw you can launch search by holding down the menu button Reply
  • Aloonatic - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Just curious, but have MS given up on the smartphone market? Or have I just missed out on all the new (or soon to be release) WP7 devices?

    At this rate, I'm just going to have to go with Android and a SGS II, even though I'd love a WP7 phone, but what there is out there are just all old handsets, and I'd have to change carrier to get one now too, as T-Mobile (UK) don't seem to sell them at all any more!?!?!?111!
    Reply
  • dagamer34 - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    If I had to guess, OEMs are working on their new handsets, but want to load them with Windows Phone 7.5, which only RTMed officially a few weeks ago.

    My best guess is we'll see some more phones around October or so, with a Galaxy S II shaped WP7 device.
    Reply
  • Aloonatic - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Well, October is what I figured too, but... We're already over a week into September and there still aren't any "coming soon" 7.5 devices to be seen anywhere, so I'd be surprised if October (as in the start of October) is anything but wishful thinking.

    It starting to seem like MS just aren't that bothered. Where's the "ooh, look at this coming soon phone" stuff? The SGS 2 like WP7 phone has been mentioned all over the web for months, but there's nothing remotely official, and with only the odd photo shopped image from net dreamers.

    It's a shame, as I'm not a fan of Apple, their products or how they behave. And I've tried Android and been annoyed by their poor updating system, where too many companies have been allowed to let year old hardware languish at the back of the update queue (if it's lucky) while the new devices get all the attention and you're left with juddering menus and in some cases shocking security holes.

    Maybe it's just me, and my problem, for hoping that WP7 might offer a solution to my woes, but MS are just leaving this all waaaaaaayyyyy too late. By the time they get to the party someone will be handing them a bin bag and asking them to help clear up.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    What do you mean? It was in the video presentation for the mango announcement month or two ago

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABO_LyD_SXs

    right around :40 he whips it out of the pocket. I guess he couldn't wait to use it as his daily phone
    Reply
  • Aloonatic - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Oh, so they have a few units the they showed on a video presentation that who saw exactly?

    Yes, I may have been exaggerating slightly before (and I know that that doesn't stand on geek boards) and we've all (well, a reasonable percentage, as I am sure that at least 1 person reading this hasn't) seen the "leaked" video that no one *wink wink* should video and get out.... But really, there's nothing to be seen here. Those videos are no more proof of a finished product than a concept car at a motor show.

    I'm just disappointed that they hare dragging their feet on this product, and really don't seem to care either.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    This was posted on a lot of major tech blog/news sites. As for devices, there are quite a few announced devices but they're all waiting for the mango update Reply
  • vision33r - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    Samsung phones are outdated in one quarter. They release small updated features to the same platform.

    The Galaxy line had 4-5 different variant versions within the same year.

    This makes update very difficult for them and also buyer confusion.

    I'll stick with HTC, since Samsung takes forever to fix software and issue timely updates.
    Reply
  • ph00ny - Monday, September 12, 2011 - link

    which device outside of the US carrier branded ones didn't get updates as soon as HTC devices? In fact, which android device manufacturer doesn't release 4-5 different variants within the same year? Reply
  • aegisofrime - Sunday, September 11, 2011 - link

    Had mine here in Singapore for about 3 months now, and you Americans will be joining the party with plenty of custom ROMs and kernels to choose from :)

    So yeah, welcome to the party!

    This forum will probably be your new best friend now:

    http://forum.xda-developers.com/forumdisplay.php?f...
    (Galaxy S II Original Android Development)
    Reply

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