Samsung Galaxy S II Review [India Edition]

Samsung Galaxy S2

Ever Since Samsung Galaxy S II was announced, it had become one of the most anticipated Android smartphones of all times. I have never seen such interest in any other Android device till now and why not – Samsung Galaxy S2 comes with the best hardware and software possible right now in the market. Well, how does all that add up, does SGS II stand up to those great expectations? You will find out in the review below.

Package Contents:

Samsung Galaxy S II, Battery, Travel Charger, Ear Buds, Headset, microUSB data cable, Leather Pouch and Quick start guide.

Samsung Galaxy S II India Box Contents

Price: INR 30,999


Samsung Galaxy S II India Specs

Samsung Galaxy S II Review:


Let’s first talk about the build quality of the Galaxy S II. It is a solid thin yet big smartphone, which most you might find it quite large in your palm. Apart from the flimsy battery cover and the placement of microSD card slot – I don’t really have a problem with its build quality. Everything is neat and done to perfection by Samsung.  Now, coming back to the two problems –battery cover is a big issue, it is fragile and whenever I am planning to remove it for something – the fear of breaking it pops up my mind.  The placement of microSD card slot is another issue as you need to take the battery out each time you switch SD card.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is 8.49mm thick, which makes it the thinnest smartphone one can buy outside Japan, where NEC Medias rules with 7.7 mm thickness.  Most of the material used on the sides and back of the display is of plastic. As expected, Samsung has used Gorilla Glass over its Super AMOLED Plus display. The presence of Gorilla Glass saves your display from everyday scratches and even occasional accidents. It also saves you the cost of a screen protector, but many of you might want extra precautions, which is not a bad idea. This sheet of glass also covers the capacitive buttons, the sensors and the front Cam on the top of the screen. The only disruptions on the front of the SGSII are the home button and the earpiece.  These capacitive back and menu buttons are backlit, but go off very soon. That did bug me. They should go dark only when the display goes on sleep. [Sleep timing can be changed]. The menu capacitive button also works as the search button when pressed longer.

On the left side, there is a volume rocker, and other side you will find the power on/off button. Sides are clean and sleek. Yes, dedicated camera button is a miss by Samsung again, and might bug some of you.  On the top of SGS2 is the 3.5 mm headset jack and at the bottom is the mic and the microUSB/Charging/HDMI port. On the back is the expected 8MP rear camera with flash.

Last point for now in hardware, SGS II is unbelievably light and without battery it was almost like feather weight in my hand :P. Samsung has put in serious work to make its weigh so less with all these features tucked in.

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The Super AMOLED Plus is awesome, as you would expect. Viewing angles are nice, color pops out clearly and I didn’t find the yellow tint problem in the lower part of the display. With 4.27 inch display size, Samsung has a lot of room to play with and it had used it effectively in messages, phone, and music apps.

Display comes with 800 x 480 resolution, which might not be the highest of the resolution but personally I don’t care. That little more resolution is not going to make or break the phone. Everything is sharp as it is supposed to be and users are not deprived of anything because of this resolution.

Color output on SGS2 Display:

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Samsung Galaxy S II
Processor Performance:

Samsung Galaxy S II comes with a 1.2 GHz Exynos dual core processor and its power is literary visible in the normal phone actions. While playing games or working with phone apps, everything just works like a charm, I personally hate all the waiting while opening big apps or loading time in games, but thanks to the processor in Galaxy S II, I no longer have to wait.

In the daily chores, SGS2 will not test your patience. As I have already said that I am not a big fan of numbers personally, but it is my duty to point out that SGS II gets some great results with benchmarking apps. Starting from the well known Quadrant and Linpack to Smartbench and Nenamark, Galaxy S II gives you the best results.

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While many of you might argue about the need for a dual core smartphones, when 1 GHz single core phones work just fine, but trust me – I have been using HTC’s myTouch 4G with Qualcomm 1GHz processor as my main device for long time and after switching to SGS2 – the change was quite obvious – note {I have the same 60 apps on both the phones and both come with manufacturer customizations}.

Battery Life:

These days all the good smartphones are plagued with the not so good battery performance, but then it is a matter of setting your bar. I think that if your phone works fine for 24 hours after charging – including the heavy WiFi usage, calls and casual gaming then its good and that’s what I was expecting  from SGS2. Yes, it will last one full day after doing the above stuff, but don’t expect more than that.

Samsung has put-in a 1650 mAh battery and it gives a decent performance, but in the long run companies should start putting efforts in battery-tech too. While everything else in the smartphone arena is getting obsolete within six month, we are still using those old-age batteries.

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You may bundle any number of core processor in your smartphone but if it is not able to do your everyday tasks nicely it is no good than a brick. If I remember correctly original Samsung Galaxy S had some serious issues with its GPS, and it seems company has gone past those in its successor. Although there have been reports in various forums about the persisting GPS problems in SGS2 as well, but I never faced a problem with GPS location lock-in, which was pretty fast.

One missing piece in terms of location apps is the absence of any offline maps/navigation software. Most of the manufacturers have been pre-installing such apps eg :- as Motorola coming with MapsmyIndia as a part of their MotoNav, HTC too has Locations, but Samsung hasn’t bundled any such apps. Due to the absence of Google’s very own Navigation in India as of now, these apps are very helpful.

Bluetooth: No issues with Bluetooth and it worked flawlessly during my testing.  Coming to the actual Bluetooth Hardware in Galaxy S II, Samsung has installed the latest version of Bluetooth Core Specification – 3.0 + HS, which supports theoretical data transfer speeds of up to 24 Mbs, though not over the Bluetooth link itself but over WiFi [802.11 link]. I did not have another device that has Bluetooth 3.0, so unfortunately I was unable to test the data transfer speeds.  You can try this if you and your friend/family have another SGS2 – If it works.

WiFi: In other connectivity features, Samsung Galaxy S II comes with 802.11a/g/b/gn and WiFi Direct. WiFi Direct lets you connect to other WiFi direct devices and share connect – it works similar to Bluetooth pairing but here you can connect to multiple devices and make a group and it is much faster. Normal WiFi connectivity has been excellent with SGS II and has no break up or connectivity lags etc.

As you would expect any Android smartphone with FroYo or above, Galaxy S II also comes with WiFi Hotspot feature, which lets you share your 3G connection with other devices by making an ad-hoc WiFi network.  You can connect up to a maximum of eight devices via WiFi tethering in Samsung Galaxy S2.

Let’s talk about the last part of this section, but pretty important part of any smartphone “Sound”. When I started this review, I had seen several early adopters talking about the crappy quality of sound in the smartphone, but frankly I was not disappointed. If not better, it was at-par with other smartphones available in the market. If you are a hardcore audiophile, you might feel disappointed but for an average consumer, it should not be an issue, but then it’s my personal opinion. One thing that is truly irritating is the position of the phone’s loudspeaker, if placed at flat hard surface; it almost stops all the sound coming from it. The Samsung supplied headset with Galaxy S2 is the same which you will find in most of its other smartphones. It has a decent sound output, but after spending 30K, I would expect Samsung to bundle a little more premium pair with the phone.


Manufacturing Nexus S has given Samsung some clear benefits like getting Gingerbread source-code before any other manufacturer. Company has made use of it pretty well, original Galaxy S has got the Android 2.3.3 update in major markets apart from US, and most importantly SGS II comes with Gingerbread pre-installed, whereas competitors like Atrix and Optimus 2x are still selling with FroYo on board.

Although Samsung Galaxy S II is yet to receive Android 2.3.4 update, which will enable video chat on Google Talk, we are happy with 2.3.3. As expected, company has installed Touchwiz 4.0 user interface with its own tweaks in the OS. Truthfully, I have never been a fan of Touchwiz, but surprisingly the updated version of UI clubbed with the dual core power inside, works smoothly.

SGS II will be the first phone, which has such an operational fluidity; it simply flies through menus and homescreens like anything. When you use Galaxy S II, you will see how far Android has reached since its inception over three years ago. Leaving out few glitches, software has become polished. You can’t have a perfect phone, but SGS2 is surely a great step in this direction. After using this, I don’t know what will be my expectations with other smartphones that I will be reviewing in the future. Anyways coming back to the topic of the day, the first thing you notice about Samsung’s tweaks on GS II is the lock screen; it is different but not great as a lock screen, but it does have some great addons in the form of missed call, playing track and new text message information right on the lock screen, the second you drag them – they take you directly in the call log or open SMS.

Other than that some other great tweaks include, the right swipe to call and left swipe to text in contacts. Every contact has a history of past communication, synced detail from social networks and other stuff, some of it was also present in the original Galaxy S.

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Useful Tweaks in OS by Samsung:

Long press home button: Opens six recent app with Task Manager Link

Turn Over: Flipping phone display towards the floor mutes everything

Tilt-Zoom: By putting two fingers on the display and tilting the phone zooms in/out

Panning: While reorganizing icons and widgets on the home screen, you will simply pan left or right to move between the different home screens. It works like magic and it’s so easy.

Data Network Mode Switch: Active or deactivate 3G network directly from power off long press menu

Screenshots: By pressing Home button and power on/off button at the same time.
Keyboard: Because of the big display size, Samsung has got a lot of space to play with while designing the onscreen keyboard, and it has given Galaxy S II the best virtual keyboard, which I have seen in an Android device till now. Nothing very fancy about it, but it makes your typing fast and error free. Company has simply tweaked the stock Gingerbread keyboard to make its own, but still for me it was better than Swype. Yes, company has also pre-loaded Swype, so you have two options while choosing your input method.

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Pre-installed Apps + Hubs: Samsung SG2 comes pre-loaded with a few apps, nothing extra-ordinary there apart from the useful Polaris Office Suite. Other than that you will get Social Hub, Game Hub and Readers Hub on the device. Music Hub is still not present on the Indian version, though company has promised to bring it in collaboration with Hungama in India. Game Hub is not so great right now, but Readers Hub is something you can watch out for. It is a mix of three different apps – Kobo e-reader, PressDisplay e-papers and Zinio e-mags. You can subscribe in any of these and pay using your credit card.

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Browsing and Sharing: With such a big screen, web browsing is a delight. Added with the pan+zoom feature, you can go on browsing for the full day [not literally: P]. Browser performance is superb in both speed and page rendering. You can adjust the device brightness from the browser menu itself and you get every possible option, I won’t get into the details of it and yes Adobe Flash works great in browser.

Samsung Galaxy S II

Call Quality & Data Speed:

Samsung Galaxy S II support HSPA+ network, which means you can buy any of private telecom operator SIM cards and expect rocking speeds on your phone. While normally Airtel never gives good speed on its 3G connection and I was able to get 5-6 Mbps, that’s a lot. I was expecting more on Reliance GSM or Tata Docomo.

Coming to Call quality, the sound and call quality is above average, and there weren’t been any known issues, but sometimes I did found the volume from ear-piece lower than expected – maybe I need an hearing-aid these days.

Samsung Galaxy S II

Samsung Galaxy S II features 8 MP rear and 2MP front camera, which is pretty much the standard thing these days.  But the included camera is no standard, it produces some nice shots, quality is great and you will not be disappointed at all. Samsung has also tweaked the camera app and you get the settings/camera and flash switch on the left, while capture button, gallery shortcut and camcorder switch are on the right.  One of the issues that many SGS2 users have been facing is the pink coloring in images taken from the camera, we too faced that issue, find the example image below.

It shoots 1080p HD video and they play smoothly on the device, but one thing that was clearly visible while recording the video was camera sensor’s laziness in adapting to the lighting condition when changed suddenly, it takes seconds to realize that light has changed.  On the other hand, Motorola XT720, which records 720p video, was much better than SGS II in changing as per the lighting conditions.

While, Galaxy S II camera might be great for stills, but it needs some work in video recording. Samsung has also integrated the native video calling support, which is normally absent from Android smartphones, so you can call your friends with Nokia smartphone using the video calling feature on 3G network.

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Camera Samples:

First shot shows the pink coloration problem, second is the full digital-zoom shot, third is normal, fourth is normal and fifth is again full zoomed-in. [Clockwise]

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Samsung Galaxy S II

Wrap Up:

So, finally we are here at the conclusion of this review. Leaving out some odd problems, Samsung Galaxy S II turns out to be the best smartphone you can buy right now in any market across the globe. If you have a budget of INR 30K, look no further Galaxy S2 is your best bet. Its large display might take some days to get used, but after that it’s going to be an awesome experience and trust me on that.


  • Extremely Light and Thin
  • 1.2 GHz dual core Exynos gives blazing fast performance
  • HSPA+
  • Super AMOLED Plus display

  • Fragile Battery Cover
  • Missing Dedicated Camera Button
  • No NFC

PS: I know even after writing so much, I would have missed many things, which you can point out in comments and I would be glad to reply.


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