Samsung Galaxy S2

Samsung Galaxy S2

Samsung Galaxy S2 - There are other contenders in the mobile phone dual-core battle, such as the LG Optimus 2X and the HTC Sensation, not to mention the iPhone 5 expected this summer, but Samsung have set the bar very high indeed with the launch of the Galaxy S2.

Physically, the S2 may not have the premium metallic finish of the iPhone 4 or the HTC Sensation, but it has a robust plastic casing that makes it lighter than a metal phone and unbelievably thin too. The plastic casing fits together tightly though, so it should take a fair bit of punishment, and it won't show the scratches like its metal friends. The phone may be thin, but it has a large footprint, big enough to fit an enormous 4.3 inch screen. This is one of the highlights of the device, being the first of a new type of display: Super AMOLED Plus. The WVGA resolution may not have quite as many pixels as some, but the brightness and contrast of the Super AMOLED Plus more than makes up for it.

The S2 is an Android phone, running the latest Gingerbread flavour of Android, coupled with Samsung's own proprietary TouchWiz interface. Arguably slightly less refined than HTC's Sense user interface (featured on the HTC Sensation), this is nevertheless a very user friendly package. In combination with the ridiculously fast dual-core processor and the responsive capacitive touchscreen, it provides one of the best user interfaces available. The iPhone interface may be simpler and slicker, but power users will enjoy the increased options and choices available on the S2.

There are several useful pre-installed apps on the phone, including a document viewer and editor, voice recognition, a file manager and task manager. Being an Android phone, you have access to over 150,000 apps from the Android market and you can also access a small number of apps from Samsung Apps.

Contacts are tightly integrated via Samsung's Social Hub with social media (Facebook and twitter) and email accounts, for a consistent full-functionality messaging system. Searching through contacts is very easy too. A virtual QWERTY keyboard with predictive text allows fast and accurate typing. The keyboard features Skype, which lets you slide your finger around the virtual keyboard, with the phone working out which letters you intended to press.

Call quality is good, with the added benefit of noise reduction, and signal quality is fine too.

The S2 has an 8 megapixel camera with LED flash and autofocus. This isn't a match for the very best camera phones (such as the Nokia N8) but it holds its own, and the addition of a flash is a definite improvement over the original Galaxy S. It also features Full HD (1080p) video recording and even offers video calling. A photo and video editor app is included.

GPS works extremely well on the S2, locating position quickly and accurately and using Google Maps 5.0 to show your position and find related information. You can use all the features of Google Maps, including Streetview on your phone.

The S2 is a great phone for web browsing, thanks to an excellent web browser, with zoom, a large screen and very fast data access. This comes either through Wi-Fi or via the extra-fast HSPA 3G connection, which can download at speeds of up to 21Mbps. Flash support lets you watch video on web pages.

As well as Wi-Fi and 3G, the phone can connect via USB, HDMI and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Samsung's Kies software is used to manage the phone from a PC.

Batterylife is better than many high-end smart phones, thanks to the provision of a heavy duty Li-ion rechargeable battery.