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Samsung Galaxy S2 review - Apps, Calling, Battery and Verdict

By Edward Chester



Our Score:


Other Samsung additions include the hubs, of which there are four: Music, Game, Readers, and Social. Music provides access to a music download service provided by 7Digital. The interface is simple but effective – so long as you know what artist you're searching for – and the selection is extensive. Prices also seem reasonable. Most albums sell for £7.99 and tracks £0.99.

Samsung Galaxy S II 16

Game Hub provides access to social games powered by Mobage and not one of them even remotely captured our imagination or interest, while Premium Games can also be downloaded. These are provided by Gameloft – one of the big names in mobile gaming at the moment – with titles such as Real Football 2011, GT Racing, and Avatar. All are graphically quite impressive, though we're yet to find one of these more ambitious 3D titles that really provides as much fun as the simpler physics-based games you'll find in abundance on the Android Marketplace.

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Readers Hub brings together books, magazines and newspapers via the Kobo, Zinio, and PressDisplay services. Each requires its own account but once signed up you get extensive selections of all the above and they all provide reasonably easy interfaces for finding the content you want.

Samsung Galaxy S II

Turning to our standard tests, managing contacts and making calls on this phone is a cinch. Sign into your Gmail, Facebook and Twitter accounts and you'll find your contacts populated with all the information therein, making it a breeze to get your phone fully synced-up with your social life. However, when it comes to calling this phone is frankly disappointing. The earpiece is too quiet, it rattles slightly when pushed to maximum volume and the speaker is also rather weedy. You get by in normal environments but a phone for all situations this is not.

Start tapping out an email or message and the excellent keyboard – helped immensely by the extra space provided by the wider screen – soon allows you to bash words out at a good pace. We did find one issue, however. When adding special characters – numbers, symbols and the like – it breaks the convention of defaulting to the number screen when you press the '?123' button. Instead it remembers the last one of the three special character screens you last used. This regularly caught us out and would make us want to install an alternative keyboard.

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Otherwise, emailing and messaging is as excellently handled as we'd ever expect of an Android phone.

Samsung Galaxy S II

Browsing the web is a superb experience thanks to the sheer speed of the device. There are no particularly clever features, except when doubling tapping the screen to zoom in – it zooms to the size of the element you double tapped rather than a standard easy-to-read distance. This is borrowed from the iPhone. You of course get Flash support and this is one area where the extra speed of that processor really comes to the fore with videos playing back flawlessly and not bringing the handset to a standstill.

Multimedia support is also excellent with DivX, Xvid and mkv all ready to roll straight away. 720p video plays back flawlessly as well and looks simply glorious on the large screen.

Samsung Galaxy S II

Also impressive is the camera, which can shoot 8 megapixel stills and 1080p video. The app itself is easy to use with key niceties like touch-to-focus and plenty of scene modes included. Results are noticeably better than your average 5 megapixel camera phone though as ever are still some way of dedicated compact camera quality. Nonetheless, comparing to the similarly specified LG Optimus 2X, the Samsung comes out on top. Detail in good lighting has them looking fairly even but the Samsung did a much better job of producing an evenly lit, wobble free shot with the flash and a brighter more detailed dark shot without the flash.

1080p footage is nice to have but you're probably better off dialling it back to 720p for better performance and smaller file sizes - the lens/sensor simply aren't good enough for the difference to be worthwhile and the higher framerate at lower resolutions makes for nicer viewing anyway. Unfortunately we kept the wrong file for our sample to upload to youtube so you're only seeing the camera work at 480p but even here you come out with a clip that's nice to watch with a smooth natural looking picture.

With all that power under the hood it's no surprise that battery life isn't this phone's strong suit, though it doesn't fare any worse than its high-end smartphone competition. Intensive use will kill it in a day easily but keep everything turned down to minimum and it'll stretch for four days without too much problem. Essentially it comes down to the rule that you'll need to charge it every other night for normal use.


The Samsung Galaxy S2 (Samsung Galaxy SII i9100) is clearly the smartphone of choice for those who simply want the most power. Its 1.2GHz dual core processor and bold-and-brash 4.3in screen really combine well to create a truly captivating, fast and eye-popping smartphone experience, especially if you like watching video on the move. It's not perfect. with call quality being particularly poor - and we prefer our phones a bit smaller and more ruggedly built, but nonetheless its strengths are so compelling as to still earn a firm recommendation.

Carrier pricing updates & information supplied by WhistleOut


May 19, 2011, 7:11 pm

Got one of these bad boys arriving tomorrow. HTC frustrated me with their lack of internal memory, and their recent trend of trying to lock down the OS. If only the innards of this phone were matched with the shell of the Sensation....


May 19, 2011, 7:41 pm

A phone with poor call quality gets recommended?

Has someone on Trusted Reviews been on the sherry?

Its looking increasingly likely my 2nd Android will be the HTC - While I know so many people raved about the first Galaxy S when I finally got my hands on it it felt light, cheap and plastic compared to the rock solid and superbly built HTC Desire 1. This review just makes me feel it would engineer much the same response but bigger.

Thankfully new devices are coming thick and fast to the Android camp so by the time I do update I will have a slightly wider choice of phones and one with an excellent call quality ;)


May 19, 2011, 8:06 pm

First thing that i have to mention is that in my opinion this review just seems to reeks of apple fanboy talk.
Seriously stop mentioning the iPhone already :S it's a good phone but it's not that good! i think its a good but overpriced phone created by a control freak company.

I can't say much about the call quality so far because i haven't called that much with my S2 but i did already once call outside when it was windy and i had no problem having a conversation.

2 the size being too big is just something personal and if someone doesn't like the size they should get a smaller phone but i dissagree with the size being a con.

3 i agree with the battery cover being thin but i don't consider that as a con, i'd rather have the thin battery cover than the ridiculous glass back cover of the iPhone 4 u seem to love so much.
Premium? yeah right not only is the iPhone heavy it's back cover cracks easily too. You call that premium? No thank you i'll stick with my thin flimsy S2 cover :)
I accidently dropped my S2 yesterday from at least 1 meter high and i was afraid of damage, but all that it caused was a very tiny little scratch u wouldn't see if u don't look carefully enough.
Do this with the iPhone and i wouldn't be surprised if you would get the same result as in the picture in the link below.

I am very happy Android has taken the top spot in the world of OS's and i hope they retain that spot for good.

David Horn

May 19, 2011, 8:28 pm

I have one of these phones and have never encountered issues with call quality. In fact, I've been very impressed with the phone doing a decent job of noise cancellation even in very noisy environments. Perhaps you've been given a dodgy one?


May 19, 2011, 8:35 pm

I don't agree that the lack of HDMI port can be considered a slip up when the micro USB port can be used for this purpose if you have the right cable (as you said in the article). That's just good design, not opening the case up with any more holes than absolutely necessary. Some other devices reviewed recently lack this feature all together but that wasn't commented on.

Call qaulity is highly dependent on network coverage. With good signal, I have had great performance in call and only as bad as others when signal was bad.


May 19, 2011, 8:40 pm

Ouch, that must have hurt.


May 19, 2011, 8:49 pm

Given, after their review of the original Galaxy S they probably had to buy one :)


May 19, 2011, 9:23 pm

What i also forgot to mention is that Edward compares this to the iPhone and complains about the call quality of the S2. It could indeed be the network connection or a dodgy S2, but that does not mean it has bad call quality.
I am also surprised that you compare this to the iPhone because if there is any phone that has some serious call quality then it is the iPhone! remember antennagate :)

@Happydude I agree with you i forgot to mention it but indeed a phone shouldn't have more holes than necessary. Besides HDMI is not something most people think of when buying a phone, the average consumer rather thinks of things such as surfing on the web to all sorts of sites like youtube or facebook.


May 19, 2011, 9:33 pm

Well, to be fair to TR - The Galaxy S 2 borrows a LOT of elements from the iPhone. I'm certainly not complaining, that's sometimes a very good thing! But it makes total sense to compare the phone to the iPhone.

Not only is the iPhone usually the industry standard - but the GS2 emulates it quite enough to be compared to it without complaint.

Besides, just because you don't think the iPhone is good enough to compare to other phones, doesn't mean other people think the same. In fact, most people compare most phones to the iPhone of their own accord, so why shouldn't TR? They're going to keep the majority happy, and do what makes the most sense, whether you like it or not.


May 19, 2011, 9:39 pm

Great review! Let's hope smartphone technology keeps innovating at this rate.

However, I don't know if I just couldn't find it or not, but I don't seem to be able to see anything on Video/Camera performance. There's the obvious usual reference images after the review, but it would be nice to read about it (also, there isn't any indication on video performance.) I've heard the camera is great, but it would be nice to hear it from you guys, too!


May 19, 2011, 10:52 pm

Just to comment on the call quality 'issue': No problems at all with my handset (SGS2, obviously), and I live in a part of the country that is not exactly known for its superb network coverage.
And the flimsy back-cover really only is an issue whenever I take it off and bend it around like mad. Now, seriously, how often does anyone do that?


May 19, 2011, 11:04 pm

Surely if it can't get the basics right and be a good phone then it should be heavily penalised?

I hope you can clarify if this call quality issue is a dodgy handset or actually a problem as I will never buy a phone that doesn't get the basics right, just like I wouldn't ever buy a motorbike that doesn't work on the road but is amazing on a racetrack.


May 19, 2011, 11:11 pm

@Benham I agree that it's a bit annoying everything gets compared to the iPhone non-stop...even though it has a ridiculous glass back and drops calls like an angry girlfriend. -- but I think trustedreviews in general and certainly Edward steer clear of the Apple fan-boy(-ism?) that you would get from say Gizmodo or Engadget.


May 19, 2011, 11:12 pm

First review of the phone I've read where the call quality was poor. Endgadget, techradar, mentions differently


May 20, 2011, 12:26 am

@ Jake Still it does not mean that the iPhone is the benchmark of the mobile phone world. At one point it might have been, but it has been surpassed and obliterated by phones like the Atrix, LG's 2x and the S2.

Also what your saying here " Besides, just because you don't think the iPhone is good enough to compare to other phones, doesn't mean other people think the same" is just bull and makes no sense at all because you didn't see me saying that other people think the same now did you!?
And learn to read because i didn't say good enough i only said its good but not that good. As in not that good to be the benchmark of the mobile phone industry anymore.


May 20, 2011, 4:36 am

This is the problem with reading reviews written from a personal perspective. Ed knows that the call quality 'issue' is not going to be a problem for 90% of users, and he knows that the flimsy nature of the rear cover can only be appreciated when it's removed (he even says it explicitly). Ed is looking for factors that differentiate this phone from the competition, and thankfully most phones these days are so good that these factors are barely negatives at all. Unfortunately, merely mentioning them in a negative light lends the impression that they're more serious than they really are.

It's a hard life, trying to communicate with the public. Kenneth Clarke, anyone?


May 20, 2011, 7:23 am

benham, nobody has gone on about the iphone more than you ,are you regretting your purchase already send it back and get an iphone instead.

@TR i gues touch wizz has improved not one mention in the whole thread.


May 20, 2011, 12:37 pm

The call quality issues mentioned in the review must have been network related. I've had my SGSII for two weeks now and there is nothing wrong with the call quality at all, it's been perfectly clear and with no negatives. The phone itself is by far the best I've ever owned and is amazingly fast.


May 20, 2011, 11:35 pm

@ betelgeus: right and you believe the nonsense your saying to me? i don't know what kind of drugs your on but i love my S2 and i wouldn't use a iPhone even if someone offered it to me for free! If you love the iPhone so much go buy one :)
Android all the way !!!


May 20, 2011, 11:42 pm

Well i take the comment i made about Ed back then, it would be nice if they started comparing the S2 to the Sensation for example.


May 21, 2011, 2:13 am

Just to clarify, the call quality issues mentioned were not network related. The earpiece volume was low in a number of test calls which had good signal. It also had a crackling quality at high volume that was most definitely the handset. That this may have been a one off issue is perfectly possible but network issues were not to blame.


May 21, 2011, 2:25 pm

Fair enough. I imagine that must have been a dodgy handset then as I've found mine to have no call problems whatsoever and this is the first review I've seen mention anything like that.


May 23, 2011, 1:17 am

I've been doing a lot of obsessive research in to call quality and have found that only O2 and Orange have decent quality for iPhone 4, 3G and 3GS.
I wonder if it's the same for Android phones now, considering that the iPhone4 antenna design is amazing and the signal is a lot better than most Android phones of the past.
Though I see you were using Orange so it might've been a bad handset?

It doesn't support HD Voice, too, which is a shame! Every phone should support it now.


May 25, 2011, 1:55 pm

Thanks for commenting, Ed. Fair enough.


July 9, 2011, 12:23 am

While a making calls on a mobile may no longer be its prime function, I fail to see how it can score so well if call quality is an issue. A bit like buying a car and listing all its attributes only to finish off with "well the ride quality was crap".

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