If you have been reading this website, you will realize that I finally bulked up (or bulked down, depending on how you view it) from my Blackberry 8820 to a superphone, the Samsung Galaxy S II. When I was walking to the store to pick it up, I had butterflies in my stomach and I could not wait till it was in my hands. I did a lot of work to acquire this phone and so I was overjoyed to finally have it. With that being said, here’s my review and I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible .
When people first saw my new phone, the first thing that people said was “Isn’t that phone big?” or something along those lines. I was completely blown away as to how many people said that. In retrospect, yes it is big but isn’t size relative? I mean, when the first iPod Touch came out, wasn’t that a big mp3 player compared to the norm? Yes it has a 4.3″ Super AMOLED Plus screen that provides amazing clarity but to me, it’s not big. In fact, this phone is the thinnest and lightest in the Canadian market coming in at 8.49mm and 117g which in my opinion, makes up for the “bigness” of the phone. To put that into perspective, the iPhone has a 3.5″ screen and weighs in at 137g with its thinnest point being 9.3mm. To the casual observer this may not be a striking difference but compare it side-by-side and you’re looking at apples and oranges. They’re both fruit but strikingly different qualities.
I’ll admit that at first it was a little awkward to handle, but like transitioning from a physical keyboard to a virtual one, the end result has left me with no regrets. The ironic thing is, when I go back to my iPod Touch, it feels incredibly small but when I go from my iPad to my Samsung Galaxy S II, I don’t get that same feeling.
Another major difference between the Samsung Galaxy S II are the buttons on the bottom. Most Android smartphones have 4 buttons compared to the SGSII’s 3 which usually goes Menu, Home, Search and Return. I prefer the 3 button scheme that Samsung used on the GS2 because it’s less cluttered and there’s a definable center to it.
I haven’t used the first iteration of the Samsung Galaxy S, but supposedly the new interface, TouchWIZ 4, is a drastic improvement from its predecessor. Most notably, the aesthetics and performance have been improved. I can’t speak much to this because I don’t use the default interface as I have installed an application called GoLauncher EX to replace it. I am currently fiddling with it and finding it quite versatile so I will keep you up to date on that one. Just recently though I updated my SGS2 from the stock 2.3.3 that Bell provides to a custom ROM called Sensation ROM 1.9 that has upgraded me to 2.3.5. The most notable improvements are the battery life (very significant) and when you scroll to the top and bottom, it flashes to let you know it’s reached the end. The call screen is more refined and allows for easier access to contact information. Overall, I’m in love with the software and thus the interface.
As I mentioned above, I’ve upgraded my phone and with that upgrade has come significant battery improvements. Before it would last me from about 10am-2am and the battery would be in critical mode. Thus when I would be heading out that night without my power cord I would recharge it before hitting the town. Now with the upgrade I have no worries as to whether it will last the day or not. On a power hungry day I’ll be down to 25% and on regular days it’ll be closer to 50% battery life left.
Building on the software aspect of this phone, I was surprised to learn with the release of ICS, that a lot of the features that were innovative on it, were already a part of the SGS2. One feature was the “Reject a call with a text message”. This is a really cool feature and was already on my phone when I got it. It comes in handy for sure. I also enjoy the screen after the end of a call where it gives you the option of sending a message or calling again to that same contact. Another “cool” feature in ICS is being able to uninstall apps from the launcher. On my SGS2 I can do hold the apps and click uninstall. I can also drag apps from my home screen up to the top to remove it from the home screen.
Overall I am very happy with my SGS2. The only problem I had with it was the battery life but since that’s been resolved it’s been a dream to have. I still use my iPod Touch as it’s a great music player which I do believe Google still needs to improve on but since I like having two devices anyways I’m happy. Google is making strides with this, with the introduction of Google Music and so it will be interesting to see how it shapes up in the future.
If you have any questions about the SGS2 please don’t hesitate to ask and if any of you have comments about your experience with the SGS2 add them here. Until next time…