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Samsung Galaxy S2 review




  • Recommended by TR

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Samsung Galaxy S2 Front Screen
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Front Screen
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Back / Battery Cover
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Camera
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Lock Screen
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Homescreen / Widgets / Apps
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Right Side
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Left Side
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Screen Off
  • Samsung Galaxy S II 9
  • Samsung Galaxy S II 5
  • Samsung Galaxy S II 6
  • Samsung Galaxy S II 7
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 App Launcher / Main Menu
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Notifications
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Keyboard / Messaging
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Contacts
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Ebook Store
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Web Browser
  • Samsung Galaxy S II
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 SIM slot
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Camera Sample 3
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Camera Sample with Flash
  • Samsung Galaxy S II Camera Sample 1
  • Samsung Galaxy S2 Camera Sample 2


Our Score:



  • Incredibly fast
  • Dazzling 4.3in screen
  • Excellent video playback
  • Web browser supports Flash
  • Light for its size


  • Too large for some
  • Plastic build doesn't feel premium
  • Poor call quality

Key Features

  • 1.2GHz dual core processor
  • 4.3in Super AMOLED Plus display
  • 8 megapixel camera
  • Android 2.3 Operating System
  • Manufacturer: Samsung
  • Review Price: £477.00

Dual-core smartphones are coming thick and fast now and one of the most lauded contenders is the Samsung Galaxy S2 (or Samsung Galaxy SII i9100 to give it its full name). Following in the footsteps of its exceedingly popular predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy S, the new model packs in a whopping 4.3in AMOLED touchscreen, an 8-megapixel camera, and a super speedy dual-core Samsung CPU that runs at 1.2GHz!

Check out our video review of the Samsung Galaxy S2:

You wouldn't guess the Galaxy S2 was packing all this heat from looks alone. At just 8.5mm thick it's a true size zero of the smartphone world. That said, thickness is the only dimension where this phone does undercut the competition; when it comes to width and height, it's larger than most. Indeed the 66.1mm width and 125.3mm height make this phone feel just a little unwieldy - you have to grip it with your fingertips rather than it sitting comfortably in the palm of your hand. It's very much a personal preference thing but we did find this phone a little too big.

Samsung has thought about this usability issue though. Rather than making you stretch all the way to the top edge to lock and unlock the phone, you can unlock it using the central button on the front. Also, the power button is housed on the right edge where it falls more easily within reach – it is still a bit of a stretch though.

Samsung Galaxy S II 13

We have few complaints when it comes to styling, but here too are not particularly blown away. The front is clearly an homage to the iPhone 4 with a mostly seamless expanse of glass except for the earpiece grille and central button. It's classy and minimalist, though doesn't quite have the allure of the LG Optimus 2X, for instance, with its curved screen edges. Meanwhile the back is a mix of glossy black plastic and a finely chequered black plastic, which does a good job of hiding fingerprints and scratches but doesn't feel all that great in the hand. The latter finish adorns the battery cover, which prizes off via a thumbnail notch on the left edge, and is alarmingly thin and flimsy.

Samsung Galaxy S II

You don't notice this when the back's on, as the support plastic underneath keeps it held nice and firm, but take it off and it feels more like you're peeling the top off a yoghurt pot than opening the back of a £500 phone. Indeed, with its thin profile, the whole phone feels a little delicate compared to the robustness of something like the iPhone 4. Certainly we'd be particularly paranoid of this phone coming a cropper if you accidentally sat on it.

Samsung Galaxy S II 11

Otherwise, we're talking about a typically well equipped Android phone with a headphone jack on the top edge, a volume rocker on the left, microUSB on the bottom and microSD nestled next to the battery under its cover. You get 16GB or 32GB of storage onboard and can add up to 32GB via the memory slot. There is one further slip up, though. Quite simply, there's no HDMI port. It's not something that's particularly useful for everyday use but being able to plug your phone into a TV is a neat way to view pictures or video. With the help of an adapter you can use the microUSB port for this purpose but these currently aren't easily available.

Samsung Galaxy S II 12

Emerging from the blackness either side of the central Home button when the phone is activated are light-up touch sensitive controls for Back and Menu. They're responsive and fall within easy reach.

The particular version of Android on show here is Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread, which isn't quite the latest (2.3.4 adds video chat) but the Galaxy S2 suffers little because of this, and an update should come relatively soon. As usual, Samsung couldn't resist giving the interface a bit of a visual tweak.

Samsung Galaxy S II 17

The most obvious change is that the main desktop/homescreen (the one the home button takes you to) is the left most one (as opposed to the middle one) with six others available off to the right and none to the left. If you swipe as though to access a screen to the left of the homescreen, it just bounces off rather than looping through to the right-most one as you'd expect.

This is downright annoying as it means you can only access one other screen within one swipe of your finger, whereas if you're free to swipe to the left and right you can access two pages within one swipe. It may sound very picky, and indeed if you tap the tiny dots that run along the bottom of the screen you can access all the homescreens in one motion, but it's just such a silly little usability failure. And one can't help but think Samsung has done it simply to make the phone look/feel more like an iPhone, without thinking about the usability.

Another annoyance is the lock screen. Once you've activated the screen with the touch of the central home button or side power button you can unlock the phone by swiping the picture in whatever direction you want. Great! Except because there's no visual indicator to tell you how far you need to swipe, it can take several goes for it to successfully register that you're trying to unlock the screen, otherwise the picture simply snaps back into position.

Samsung Galaxy S II

From here on in, though, this phone is a breeze to navigate, and has a particularly good homescreen manager. Just as with other Android handsets, you can simply drag apps to and from the various homescreens or add folders of apps and widgets to them. However, Samsung has upped the usability by splitting the screen and having the homescreens presented as shrunken versions of themselves in a carousel arrangement at the top, making it easier to see where you want to place things. You can also resize widgets using a simple grab-the-corner-and-drag method. You can't start an app folder by simply dragging one app on top of another though, as on the iPhone and Sony Ericsson's latest Android phones.

Samsung Galaxy S II

This same visual style is also used to let you rearrange the apps in the main menu (App Launcher). While this customisation is welcome, it's rather annoying that you can't simply choose to have all your apps in alphabetical order, as most Android users have become used to. After all, with all those homescreens as well, having to organise the main menu just means you have two things to keep on top of.

Also of debatable benefit is the addition of 'tilt to zoom'. By holding two fingers on screen and tilting the phone back and forth you can zoom in an out of the usual selection of apps such as the picture viewer and web browser. If ever there was a feature to represent the word 'gimmick' in the OED, this could well be it. Thankfully you're under no obligation to use it.

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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