Make Canoe my Homepage

Samsung Galaxy S2 review

- November 28th, 2011

I’ve been on a Mac since my Apple IIe back in the 80s, and on an iPhone since the first version in 2007. It’s not an understatement to say that the device quickly became as close to me as an appendage, and I upgraded to the 3GS and the 4 after their release. I sold my iPhone 4 and was ready to upgrade to the 4S…when I realized I was just not as excited as usual about the upgrade, as it had gotten a bit routine to me.

I’m not here to hate on Apple; Siri looks amazing and all, but considering my line of work as one of the creative minds behind the GetConnected brand of TV shows made me realize that maybe I never quite gave Android the fair shake it deserves. So, I moved on to try some Android phones, and when Virgin Mobile sent us the Samsung Galaxy S2 to try out for the month, I was more than excited to put it through its paces!

The first thing you’ll notice is the big, glorious screen on the Galaxy S2. This phone is clearly bigger than the iPhone’s 3.5″ screen by almost an inch, but its curved back and slim design feels fantastic and inviting in the hand. The screen uses Samsung’s Super AMOLED technology which actually doesn’t use the screen (and saves the battery a bit) for the colour black, meaning you don’t get that washed up looking black that so many screens offer. Do make sure you go to a store and feel it in the hand, particularly if you have smaller hands. I’ll admit that the plastic didn’t thrill me at first, but it’s definitely solid. And don’t be fooled by the thin battery cover, as it’s very difficult to snap!

The Galaxy really impressed me with its power and punch, and I found surfing the web to be quite snappy and, dare I say, quicker than the iOS experience. Text and images rendered nicely on the screen, and there was very little lag switching apps and such. Speaking of apps, the included apps are a mixed bag. As with all Android phones, you might find the music app or the gallery app to be unsatisfying and even confusing but there are a lot of apps on the Android market to install in place of the included ones. Some, like the included browser, are actually pretty good.

A lot of criticism of Android is directed at the inconsistent interfaces you can encounter, from HTC’s Sense to Motorola’s MotoBlur, but Samsung’s TouchWiz is the most iOS-like and intuitive of the bunch. If you put in the time to customize and tweak the setup you can find most of what you need to have the software react to how you would like it, and the Galaxy S2′s robust internals really supplement that. But the key is investing the time to learn the Android interface. An iPhone can be set up in a few hours tops; The Android can take a solid day or more to really set up and get to know at first.

And yes, you might have heard of the new Android OS coming out, dubbed Ice Cream Sandwich. The way updates work on Android is that the OS gets integrated with each carriers’ skin (in this case, TouchWiz), then it goes through the carriers and gets sent down the pipes. Samsung already stated that they’ll roll out those updates in Q1 2012 on their current line and this phone is a monster seller so it’s surely going to be done soon. If you must have Ice Cream Sandwich you’ll have to wait for the Galaxy Nexus (stay tuned for a review soon), but with the Nexus you don’t have some features like the MicroSD card, the camera has less megapixels, and there’s no clickable home button. Strangely enough, one of my criticisms about the S2 was that I got so used to the soft keys for the menu/back buttons I kind of wanted that for a home button, but it does feel more familiar to have that big home button on the bottom á la iPhone.

That said, I think with some of the features such as Virgin’s 4G speeds, along with handy little add-ons like the ability to add and swap MicroSD cards to bolster the storage on the phone, now is a great time to have a look at Android. There are dozens of choices for Android phones. However, if you want a solid performer that balances form, function and power you will not be disappointed with the Samsung Galaxy S2. The staff had to pry it out of my hands to send it back!

Subscribe to the post

22 comments

  1. Karan Sehdev | November 29, 2011 at 10:28 am

    Ordered mine yesterday, can’t wait to get my hands on it! Looks awesome from all the reviews I’ve read and numerous awards it has accrued.

  2. Steve Jobs | November 29, 2011 at 11:08 am

    Was it a Galaxy S2 4G or Galsxy S2 LTE?
    Also the Galxay Nexus comes out in 10 days which blows this one out of the water.

  3. Derp | November 29, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    @Steve Jobs: not really, didn’t you read what he just said about the nexus? It might have a solid edge in some aspects, but blowing it out of the water is an overstatement to say the least. The S2 is a great phone and you won’t be disappointed with it. I love mine.

  4. jones | November 30, 2011 at 5:09 am

    apple is always top cant be compared with other phones the king of phones

  5. 2012AndroidLover | November 30, 2011 at 11:46 am

    I agree with @Steve Jobs. If you want an Android 4.0 phone now, Galaxy Nexus is the one to go. If you want an iPhone, iPhone 4S is the only choice.
    Just check out the page and click on the specifications tab you’ll understand: http://www.bell.ca/Mobility/Products/Galaxy_Nexus/

  6. Todd | December 2, 2011 at 6:22 am

    I know people hate on RIM. But I’m very interested to see what the new BBX phones from RIM has to offer. Since BBX is brand new they will want to be pushing a lot of updates. And since the new OS uses a micro-kernal RTOS, the network stack is separate from everything else, so carriers don’t need to validate the whole OS, just the network stack (if it changes). This means OS updates roll out faster than iOS and Android!! I think it’s foolish to count RIM out just yet.

  7. Ben | December 2, 2011 at 7:53 am

    Folks I hate to tell everyone the G behind the number doesn’t mean it is faster. All it means is that this generation of that model with upgraded features. Example 4th generation 3rd generation. Thats all I wanted to say.

  8. PH500 | December 2, 2011 at 8:30 am

    SAVE YOUR TIME AND A LOT OF HASSLE… stick with iPhone! :)
    Not sure where the writer came up with setting up the iPhone takes a few hours, it’s the most simple to set up… took me 15min tops. I’ve had a lot of phones, NONE come close to the iPhone. I know a few people that have had Androids and they all switched to iPhone because I was long done what I had to do before they were…. For me NOTHING even compares to iPhone…

  9. LeavingiPhone4 | December 2, 2011 at 9:25 am

    I’ll be getting this phone today and selling my iPhone 4 on ebay. Biggest reason for me is no more iTunes!! Seriously when are they going to kill that app, one of the worst ever.

    Now, without jailbreaking my phone, I can easily move files, movies, music around without hassle. I’m not locked to one freaking computer!!

    Check out apps like Kies Air for doing this syncing.. and you’ll cry (if you aren’t already) when you think of iTunes.

  10. wasrimnowdroid | December 2, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    So, in all the years I’ve been using mobile devices (from the Motorola White Brick to Crackberry Torch), I can honestly tell you that I’m impressed by the Galaxy S2. I bought one “out right” from Bell, and I did feel it, touch it etc etc –it was the screen and speed that sold me. From having crackberry’s and an iPhone 3Gs, I wanted a better experience …and the Samsung provided this. Love Canadian technology, but RIM is such a floundering ship right now..they have no direction –no care. Apple –great company, great technology –not so good on coming out with something..”new”. Droid’s have come a long way –and I can honestly tell you that I will be staying with this phone for quite some time. Get to a provider that will let you feel it, touch it and use it for 15 mins. Then decide. I did. SOLD!

  11. niks | December 3, 2011 at 5:19 am

    I have both iphone 4 and galaxy s2. But in many features iphone 4 can beat samsung s2…. Galaxy s2 have poor 8 megapixel camera than iphone 4′s 5 mrgapixel camera and iphone screen quality is better then galaxy s2. I just used galaxy s2 for two days n now i want to sell it….

  12. Stee | December 3, 2011 at 11:56 am

    This article actually convinces me to stay with iPhone.

    The only positives it points out are that is uses less battery to create black, and it has a slightly larger screen…..umm, if having a bigger screen gives you a woody then buy a tablet

    The cons – according to this article (not my opinions):

    - feels like cheap plastic…..because it is plastic

    - takes much longer to setup, and then even more time to actually learn how to use it

    - camera/video is not as good as the iPhone…..does it even do video ?

    - inconsistent Android interfaces across mfg’s; this translates into potential long term compatibility issues for app publishers

    - included apps are inconsistent, and most will have you wanting to search for improved alternatives in a much lesser selection to choose from

    - I consider having to juggle external storage cards a minus, if you can simply purchase a phone up front that has more storage than you’ll ever need for a single night’s outing.

    - before the article is even finished it’s suggesting you might not want to buy this phone yet because you might want to wait for an Android upgrade coming out next year – ? Huh ? It’s so good you want to wait for an improvement first ?!?

    This line is the kicker:
    “A lot of criticism of Android is directed at the inconsistent interfaces you can encounter, from HTC’s Sense to Motorola’s MotoBlur, but Samsung’s TouchWiz is the most iOS-like and intuitive of the bunch.”

    Translation: none of them are as intuitive as iOS – they’re all still desperately trying to copy the iPhone

    Yes, as part of the normal leap-frog progressive engineering cycle competitors will eventually offer some intriguing enhancements, that will challenge Apple to counter with even more innovation. We need Apple to have competition in order to maintain the pressure to continue pushing the innovation.

    But don’t kid yourself. There’s a reason why Apple always places the first mark in the game of X’s & O’s….because the other companies are always playing copy & catch-up to Apple. If that wasn’t the case, then these other companies would introduce something truly unique and new once in a while…..but they don’t….they simply offer enhancements on what someone else has created.

    Stee

  13. Stee | December 3, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    By the way, like the author, I too have been using Macs since my college days with an Apple IIe.
    I have worked on just about every model of Mac rolled off the assembly line, and I was one of the original Newton owners….the grand predecessor of all these Smart phones today (even though it obviously wasn’t a phone).

    I work for what I am told is now the largest computer company in the world….which sells Windows based machines (including my own employer provided workstation), and I am in Network Security so I eat sleep and breath unix based systems…..when not photo or video editing my iPhone clips on my MacBook ;)

    While I am admittedly a pro-Apple consumer, I am not a crusader. If it wasn’t for Bill Gates and the glorious security vulnerabilities of Windows, I wouldn’t have a job.

    In other words I have a lot of experience on all platforms and feel I have a very objective perspective.

  14. Android mafia | December 4, 2011 at 7:28 am

    My old Iphone feels so last year (or years) I’m so hooked on Android now as it seems fresh and exciting. I think only the Steve Jobs fanboys will stick with Apple.

  15. el pig | December 5, 2011 at 7:56 am

    The reasons I went to a Galaxy S, and now a Galaxy S2, are 1) I was bored looking over the fence Apple have built around their own little world. 2) I was annoyed by the bloated, nasty piece of shoppingware – iTunes. Any self respecting tech marketing company should be thoroughly ashamed of it. And 3) a smartphone with an average graphics processor and 3.5″ screen is woefully inadequate in this videomediacentric age. So I’ll consume the SGS2 for a while, and then sample the Galaxy Note. Of course, if, sometime in the future, Apple can address the three issues listed above, I’ll happily consider buying an Apple phone. But then, Apple wouldn’t be Apple anymore, would it?

  16. Stee | December 7, 2011 at 7:40 am

    I get a kick out of people who have jumped on the anti-Apple bandwagon…you do realize you’re the umpteen millionth person to use the word ‘fanboy’ right ? Stop trying to sound all counter-culture and rebellious like you actually started the movement. Get in line with the rest of the sheople. You’ve just disclosed you’re as much a B-type personality as the group you’re so bravely attempting to ostracize.
    Try coming up with an enhancement to the argument, rather than regurgitate the words of so many others that have already come before you.

  17. dayle | December 14, 2011 at 1:21 pm

    Samsung galaxy s2 is so much better than the iphone because it dont use itunes which is a piece of shit and also the screens led the camera is better when downloading apps twice as quick so much smoother so quicker to boot up it does anything u want it to and when you speak to the phone it actually works go on you tube and type Samsung galaxy s2 v iphone 4 or 4s i would say all the videos say Samsung is better

  18. David Jones | January 5, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    The galaxy s2 is a superb phone, I have one and use http://galaxys2apps.net/ to find great apps for it! Hope this helps :)

  19. open-minds | February 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Ah, the high school flame war…
    I too have dabbled and bathed in the glorious world of the iphone and recently jumped ship to experience something new. Enter the Galaxy S2. I’ve had it for some time now and all i.can say is that it’s beyond refreshing. is it better than the iphone 4? Im not sure.. It defends on what YOU like, not me. Both are beasts and function like no other device I’ve encountered however they’re different. Flaming and flexing muscles reminds me of high school. if you’re curious, try them both and see what works for you. God knows it’ll be easy to find one in this day and age. Both are wonderfully and right now, Im quite happy with the S2. What a device! Then again, im sure ill be saying the same after i give the iphone 5 a go.

  20. TechFan2012 | February 3, 2012 at 8:27 am

    I could say that 2012 was Samsung’s year. The company did so well with the Galaxy S family, especially with the S2. Almost everybody owns a Samsung srmatphone. I have seen the S2 compared with others devices http://www.phone-vs-phone.org/

  21. Scott | February 6, 2012 at 10:25 am

    I do not recommend this phone the screen is not gorilla proof like the sales rep told me. Bought mine on December 20, 2011. One month in my screen cracked from one of the corners across my srcreen. I spoke to samsung to replace the screen and no go not in there policy. I sent out my phone for repairs cost me $250 out of pocket. Samsung will not cover any damage to the screen. I have a few freinds with the myself and one other has had the same problem. I’ve also spoke to people at the Bell store and they always have people coming in with the same problem cracked screens. Don’t get me wrong the functions of the phone is great just be extra careful with handling the phone. Screen is crap.

  22. Jay Rubinstein | January 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    The screen on my Samsung just cracked before my eyes without even touching it. Samsung’s glass is crap and they refused to repair it under warranty. When I went back to Staple’s to complain they said I should have bought their extended warranty. They stated that this was a big moneymaker for them. Anyone want to join me in a class action suit against Samsung for misleading advertising. By the way did anyone get a full copy of the warranty?

Leave a comment

 characters available