Samsung Galaxy S II I9100 Review


Samsung Galaxy S II

Quick Jump: Introduction > Design > Display > Performance > Software > Browser > Camera > Network > Battery > Conclusion


Samsung Galaxy S II, the successor to Samsung’s successful Galaxy S has been released in April 2011 and it has been the widely talked-about Android smartphone since then. Touted as the best Android smartphone available in the market right now, Samsung Galaxy S II indeed has all the high-end hardware and software justifying all the hype that has surrounded its release. Let’s get into the full in-depth review.

And before we can get into the actual review, make sure you read the full specifications of the phone.

In short, Samsung Galaxy S II is a powerhouse, powered by a 1.2GHz Samsung Exynos dual-core processor and sporting a huge 4.27-inch screen with Super AMOLED Plus display (480 x 800), 1GB RAM, Android 2.3 Gingerbread OS on top of the Samsung’s proprietary TouchWiz 4.0 UI, connectivity options like 21Mbps HSPA+ (4G), 3G, A-GPS, Bluetooth 3.0, Wi-Fi b/g/n, FM Radio, DLNA and MHL. Galaxy S II has various sensors like light, proximity, gyroscope and accelerometer sensor etc. In some regions the phone ships with a built-in NFC ship though the one we have now (Indian version) doesn’t have it inside. Coming to cameras, the phone has two, a 2 megapixel camera on the front for making video calls, and an 8 megapixel camera on the rear that can record 1080p HD video. Powering the whole device is a 1650mAh battery.

Build & Design:

The first thing you notice about Galaxy S2 is its thinner rectangular design unlike the Galaxy S. In fact Samsung Galaxy S II is the second most thin smartphone (measuring 8.49mm) in the world next only to Japan’s NEC MEDIAS N-04C measuring 7.7mm thick. The 4.3-inch AMOLED Plus display is protected by a Gorilla Glass which looks better than that on the original Galaxy S in resisting scratches and fingerprint marks. The textured back battery cover and a curvy bump near the bottom on the rear side gives a nice feel when you hold it with your hand even though the phone is very light. The battery cover is made up of plastic possibly to reduce the weight. If you use HTC and Nokia phones regularly and love the metallic back cover on those, you might have a problem with the plastic chassis on the Galaxy S II initially though we are sure you wouldn’t feel the same after using it regularly.

On the front, the phone sports a 2MP front-facing camera at the top as well as proximity and light sensors to its right. The light sensor does very good job in detecting the light levels and adjusting the screen brightness accordingly. The volume rocker and a power/lock key are present on the left and right side of the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S II Review Samsung Galaxy S II Box Contains Samsung Galaxy S II front viewSamsung Galaxy S II Side View  Samsung Galaxy S II Rear Camera    Samsung Galaxy S II Review

Samsung Galaxy S II Battery & SIM slot Samsung Galaxy S2 battery cover Galaxy-S2-boot-screen Samsung Galaxy S II Vs Galaxy S Comparison

There’s a multifunction jack present at the bottom, called a Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) which works both as a microUSB port as well as an HDMI-out port. You need to buy a MHL-to-HDMI adapter (like the one that has been recently released for the HTC EVO 3D) to be able to take advantage of this feature. There’s a microphone located right next to the microUSB / HDMI port at the bottom. The 3.5mm headphone jack is located at the top of the phone along with a secondary microphone for noise cancellation, located right next to it.

On the back of the phone, there is an 8 megapixel camera along with LED flash and you can also see the loudspeaker grill on the curved bump near the bottom.


The 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display on the Samsung Galaxy S II, we have to admit, is brilliant. It is much better the Super AMOLED display on the original Galaxy S though the resolution is still the same (480 x 800). If you are wondering what are the technical differences between the AMOLED and AMOLED Plus; The Super AMOLED (used in the Galaxy S) makes use of PenTile matrix to form an image where as the Super AMOLED Plus display (used in the Galaxy S II) uses the normal RGB matrix, using more subpixels than that on the former. The result is an impressive display of crisper text, colors, graphics and wider viewing angles.

Readability under direct sunlight is decent on the Galaxy S II, better than its predecessor we can say, thanks to the Super AMOLED Plus. The display has a power-saving mode meaning that, it will automatically adjust according to your usage thus saving some battery.


Samsung Galaxy S II is powered by a 1.2GHz Samsung Exynos chipset and a 1GB RAM (out of which 833MB is usable). With such a high configuration (according to the current) you would expect the phone to be faster. It indeed is! Be it installing or firing an app, scrolling through the screens or you name whatever you can do on this beast, it all goes so smoothly. Thanks to the 1.2GHz Exynos processor, the device can play 1080p HD videos without any issues. We were able to play widely used HD video formats like DivX/Xvid .avi, MKV, MP4 the playback looked very sharp and vivid mainly due to the Super AMOLED Plus display that the device is sporting.

Here are the few standard benchmark tests that we performed on this device:

Quadrant gave us a highest result of 3487 (on average it was around 3200 mark) while Linpack gave us results consistently around 55 MFLOPS, the NenaMark2 graphics benchmark around 45 fps on average and finally benchmark test results of Neocore were 59.8 fps.

Samsung Galaxy S2 Quadrant result Samsung Galaxy S II Neocore bencharking resultSamsung Galaxy S II Linpack  Samsung Galaxy S II Nenamark2

Samsung Galaxy S II Smartbench 2011


Samsung Galaxy S II GT-i9100 OS Version

Samsung Galaxy S II runs Android 2.3.3 Gingerbread OS on top of Samsung’s custom TouchWiz 4.0 UI. The user interface has been updated with some new features and improvements compared to the earlier Galaxy S mobile phone. Though Android lovers would always prefer to have the pure stock Android OS on their mobile phones, manufacturers try to customize the look of the OS by adding their own UI on top of the OS. It has always been the case, be it the HTC Sense UI on the HTC Androids or the Motorola Blur on the Motorola’s Android based smartphones and the TouchWiz on the Samsung droids. While the HTC Sense is the better amongst others, TouchWiz and Blur are fast catching up.

TouchWiz 4.0 UI is clean and impressive. The homescreen has seven panels and they can be rearranged or if you want, you can even remove one or many of the panels under zoomed-out view. Widgets can be added or rearranged using the newly included panning feature. To get started with panning, you need to hold the widget that you want to add to a particular panel and tilt your phone. Samsung Galaxy S II cleverly identifies the motion using the gyroscope and scrolls through panels for each such tilt, drop it on the panel where you want it to be.

Samsung Galaxy S2 Icons Redrawing

The app pages can be sorted either by grid view or list view. However we couldn’t find a way to rearrange the app pages like placing all similar apps at one page to manage the clutter.

Samsung Galaxy S II Apps Grid View Samsung Galaxy S II Apps List View

Samsung has added their usual share of hubs like Readers Hub, Social Hub and Game Hub etc. Other than the Readers Hub that has the Kobo reader, Zinio and PressPlay apps pre-installed, other hubs may not interest you much.

Another useful pre-installed app is the handy Kies Air app which lets you control your phone’s files on your PC via Wi-Fi (provided the PC and the phone are on the same Wi-Fi network). You can even send text right from your browser using the app.

Samsung Galaxy S2 Kies Air app Samsung Galaxy S2 Kies Air app

Voice talk, powered by Vlingo is an another interesting app that has been newly introduced in the Samsung Galaxy S II. It can be launched by double-tapping Home button. In theory, this should be a really handy app for usage on the go like sending a text hands-free while you are driving. But we reckon, the app needs more development than its current form to perform better. The app also doesn’t work unless you have an active network data connection.

Samsung Galaxy S II Voice Talk

Samsung has made it really easy to take screenshots on the Galaxy S II. You just need to hold down the home button and press the power/lock button on the right side of the phone. There’s an improved task manager that can be accessed by long pressing the home button. Samsung has almost kept the default Gingerbread keyboard except for few changes like replacing the comma button with a button for voice input.

Samsung Galaxy S II Task Manager Samsung Galaxy S II Keyboard

Holding the power button once will lock your device though you can see the alerts like new messages, missed calls will be previewed on the lock screen. Swiping on the corresponding alerts will directly take you to the actual details (call logs, inbox etc.,), same as that in case of the Galaxy S.

Samsung Galaxy S II lock screen

Holding down the power key for few seconds will pop up the phone options window which include options like activating / deactivating silent mode, data network mode or flight mode along with the Power off option to shut down the phone.

Samsung Galaxy S2 Phone Options

When you pull down the notification bar from the top, you will see the options for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Sound and Auto rotation in the notification panel.

Samsung Galaxy S II Notification Panel


Browsing experience on Galaxy S II is very good. The webpages load faster, the text is crisper and the colors looked good. There is a new tilt-zoom feature being incorporated using which you can zoom in any webpage holding the page using both of your hands and tilting it. Flash content renders well and the AMOLED Plus display enriches the viewing.

Samsung Galaxy S II browser screenshot  Samsung Galaxy S II Tilt-Zoom



Samsung Galaxy S II has an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash on its back. Samsung has customized the native Android Gingerbread camera app to suit the needs of the user. The app has a customizable left menu where users can add shortcuts to the functions that they access more often. By default the shortcuts for switching the camera, flash and camera settings are included on the left. On the right we have the button to switch between the still / video mode, the capture button on the middle and a button for reviewing the recently captured images/videos at the bottom. The app has settings like ‘Anti-shake’ mode that lets you take good snaps even when you have a shaky grip on the phone. Panorama mode does well to stitch consecutive images together to produce a Panorama image.

Samsung Galaxy S2 Camera Options  Samsung Galaxy S II camera shortcuts

Still images taken with the camera are decent. Sometime the colors come out a bit over saturated especially at outdoors, but overall the captured images looked very good on the phone. The only minor complaint we had was that the phone lacked a dedicated physical camera button. But again, as said earlier, you will get used to it eventually sooner or later and stops complaining.

The camera produced some good 1080p videos with good details and frame rate. Overall, it may not be a replacement for your digital camera but would certainly offer all those capturing abilities that you wish you to see on a smartphone.

Samsung Galaxy S II camera review  Samsung Galaxy S II camera review  Samsung Galaxy S II camera review

Samsung Galaxy S II camera Panorama Mode review

Network & Call Quality:

Network reception is good and the voice call clarity is ok. The built-in loudspeaker is loud and clear but some may have a problem with the position of the loudspeaker. It has been placed at the bottom left on the phone’s back, where we usually place our fingers and we could easily end up blocking the loudspeaker grills and thus muting the sound in the middle of a call. Galaxy S II comes with new motion control features which will make the phone muted when you turn over such that the phone’s display faces the floor. This can be disabled or enabled under the ‘Motion Settings’.

Samsung Galaxy S II Motion Settings

Battery Life:

With such a huge hardware inside it, you would expect the phone to suck in the battery quick. But Samsung Galaxy S II’s 1650mAh battery does a good job in providing you a day’s worth of battery life with a one-time recharge and with low to moderate use of the phone’s various connectivity options and some occasional gaming and watching videos etc. But if you are one of those who would love to watch videos, or use phone’s 3G and GPS features etc., a bit heavily while on the go, be sure to carry the charger adapter with you, though in most cases all you need is a one-time recharge during night to get through the whole of the next day. But then, be aware that the phone gives a nasty beep kind of sound when it gets fully charged, the kind of sound that could easily destroy your sound sleep. We couldn’t find anyway to disable this though. In our tests the phone took approximately 3 hours to get fully charged right down from zero percent.

Samsung Galaxy S II Battery Usage


Samsung Galaxy S II is truly an amazing device, inarguably the best Android smartphone we have today, take our word for that! It is already available in most of the regions worldwide though folks in the US may have to wait a few more weeks to see the carrier-bound versions (could differ a bit from the original international version) of the Samsung Galaxy S 2. The unlocked version would set you back Rs. 29,490 (MRP) in India and around £470 in the UK where a new white Galaxy S II version would be launched very soon. Rating: 4.75 / 5

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