Search the Site

My Social
Powered by Squarespace
« Leica M and Lens Caps | Main | Billingham Hadley Small Review »

A (slightly biased) review of the Samsung Galaxy S2 Phone

My employer decided to give its employees new smartphones. Mostly because we've been begging for them the last couple of years. Unfortunately, not the one(s) we (or perhaps I) have been asking for.

In my line of work I come across customers with wireless networks that need (some sort of) security in place. The only real question I get during those projects is; "Will it work with an iPhone or an iPad?" In my entire career, I haven't had a single question of that kind regarding Android or Windows Mobile phones.... There's no denying it; the iOS devices from Apple are huge. Even in the corporate market.

So, no corporate iOS device for me. Instead, they shipped the Samsung Galaxy S2 (listed as iPhone look-a-like) to me.

I unpacked the phone almost immediately, and you know what they say about first impressions?.... Well, my first impression of the Samsung Galaxy S2 was plastic fantastic. Which isn't bad under certain circumstances. E.g. when a phone costs €100 - €300, you can't expect much from a smartphone (that's listed as an iPhone look-a-like). Checking the online prices for a new simlock free Samsung Galaxy S2, without any carrier subscriptions, I gasped.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 costs nearly €600 (€598,95). For that amount of money you have the following specs;

  • 16GB RAM
  • Large touchscreen (more on that later)
  • Wifi
  • 3G
  • GPS
  • Apps
  • etc.

Compare those features to the iPhone 4S features, AND price... Looks like the iPhone isn't that expensive after all. The 16GB iPhone 4S costs €599 at this moment. So, for the same price you can get a more solid iPhone, with some 'features' that the Galaxy doesn't have. Like;

  • No upgradable memory (the Galaxy accepts microSD cards to expand it's internal memory). So far I haven't run into this 'feature'.
  • No changeable battery. Again something I haven't missed. Like one actually holds on to a phone more than three years?

So far, only theory. I hadn't switched on the phone at all till this point.

First use

Switching on the phone for the first time surprised (positively) me. At first, the screen is really large, bright and colorful. After the Samsung intro I had to setup the phone. Since I had no SIM inserted yet, I had to configure WiFi first to connect to the world.

To use WiFi, I had to enter the WPA2 key to my WiFi network.. How many symbols can one place in an onscreen keyboard?? Talking about information overload.

Keyboard Information OverloadAfter the initial setup I could use the phone, or at least try. The screen is so enormous that I can't reach across the entire screen. I don't have the smallest hands, but I can't reach certain corners when I'm holding the phone normally.

Screen is to large to reach across it with ones thumbConnecting it to the computer

A colleague of mine mentioned that you should upgrade to the latest firmware / Android version before using the device, so I went on a quest to find the OSX software suite for the phone. The software is non-existant according to the (Dutch) Samsung website. Only Windows / PC software available.
A Google query solved that problem. Seems that there is a Kies software suite for the Samsung phone, that should recognize the Galaxy S2.

Installing the software (a .pkg installer package) is easy. Connecting to the phone not so much. The software kept saying 'Connecting....'.

Can't connect to the deviceSeemed that I needed to install the actual driver as well (which is done from the Tools menu in the Kies application. Why not do that when the actual application is installed??

B.t.w. I find the application name annoying as hell. Kies is the Dutch word for Tooth....

Anyway, after installing the driver I was able to connect to the phone... Only to find another hurdle I have to take. According to the Kies software, my phone can't be upgraded...

GT-I9100 does not support firmware upgrade - WTF!!!How am I supposed to update the phone to its latest software version? A PC with a Windows OS should do the trick, or so I'm told, but one is only to willing to go so far.....


My (intermediate) conclusion about the Samsung Galaxy S2 (iPhone look-a-like) is that it is a look-a-like of the iPhone. Just as long as you don't intend to use it, and only look at it from a far. The phone won't work properly on (or with) the Apple OS X platform. I guess the other phone manufacturers already gave up on creating an iPhone killer....

In the mean time, the Galaxy S2 goes back into its box and closet for the next couple of weeks. Waiting for a decent piece of management software.

Reader Comments (6)

Great notes Willem. I guess the Samsung Galaxy S2 phone will need more enhancements before it could kill the iPhone. I wonder if it is supported on a Windows PC. But having an iPhone look a like with €600 is not bad.

December 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGerard Brightman

Thank you very much for sharing. this is very interesting. :)

December 8, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercash for cell phones

Thanks for this Willem. I guess Samsung will still have a long way to finally make an iPhone killer. And once they finally created one, Apple has a new gadget and iPhone is just a thing from the past.

- Dylan

December 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrochure Printing

Let's keep this in mind as well:
"Will it work with an iPhone or an iPad?" can also be indicative for how bad iPhones and iPad's communicate with the world around them, particularely in a wireless world.

The SGS2 is not a perfect phone, but at least it communicates wirelessly as you may expect it to. The Apples don't. Read the forums about it.
But granted: what they do do, they do very well and more stable than most others.
And yes, I am slightly biased as well ;-)

January 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeter R

Sorry if your SGS2 is collecting dust in your cupboard.

To interact with my PC
I use Winamp to sync my playlist both air or wire.
Gmail,facebook and outlook contacts, calendars, reminders, etc syncs automatically over air.
Dropbox syncs my mobile pictures and desired files to all 3 of my computer terminals as well as a web folder automatically.
ODIN updates the firmware to my original/customized firmware.
If i'm geeky enough i can install a full desktop version of linux on it.
I can play Dirt3 and other Xbox, PS3 games on my SGS2 using Onlive.
I can also sync my PS3 controller to it to play these games.
I can connect my memory card reader to my SGS2 using a OTG usb cable, copy the SLR RAW file, process the picture, and post it on facebook all in the middle of nowhere.
When i travel, i can connect bluetooth keyboard, mouse and HDMI any TV to turn my phone into a desktop or a HD movie player.
With a pocket full of batteries I never run out of power. Especialy when i'm using OS maps + GPS in the middle of the mountain.
I can also connect a wrist band to a special port on the side.
It's light and fast that it doesn't lag when i'm updating all my apps.

Stay with your iphone. Keep your life simple.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBLee

For a handset with such a broad range of standout features and specs, the Galaxy S II is remarkably easy to summarize. It's the best Android smartphone yet, but more importantly, it might well be the best smartphone, period. Of course, a 4.3-inch screen size won't suit everyone. it is the best tablet of Apple family.

May 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarlo Francis

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>