As you probably know by now, Samsung had a big event yesterday evening in Barcelona, mere hours before Mobile World Congress kicked off this morning. And there were two devices that took the center stage. There will be another post about the Galaxy Tab 10.1, so for now let’s focus on the Galaxy S II, the successor to the very well received (and sold) Galaxy S.
Alongside its impressive, but not unheard of, hardware specs, the Galaxy S II has some nice software feature additions to the vanilla Android 2.3 Gingerbread experience. While TouchWiz 4.0, the UI layer that Samsung has added here, is, at a first glance, very similar to its predecessor (TouchWiz 3.0, as seen on the original Galaxy S), this time Samsung has also added a lot more services to differentiate their offering from the competition.
The Social Hub, Music Hub, Readers Hub, and Games Hub are a big part of this push. Standing out among these is the Readers hub, which is a one-stop shop for books, magazines, and newspapers. The book purchase and viewing is powered by Kobo, and the magazine part is there thanks to Zinio. Support for all items is international, which means that you can even find some newspapers from Romania to read. That is very welcome news to those of us not in the US, where these things are usually limited to. Newspaper pricing isn’t final yet, but it is said to be about $1 per issue, or $29.99 per month for pretty much unlimited access to newspapers (yet it’s unclear if this will cover all newspapers from across the world, or just a specific country or language).
The Games Hub has both ‘social’ games – think the type that’s popular on Facebook – and ‘premium games’ – these are those for the hardcore gamers. The Games Hub has a built-in store, just like the Readers Hub. And the games really can benefit from that behemoth of a quad-core GPU in this smartphone. Also GPU-related is the fact that the Galaxy S II can both record and play back 1080p full HD video. The Music Hub has an integrated shopping experience thanks to 7Digital, and in it, millions of tracks will be available for immediate download and listening.
The Social Hub pulls in Twitter and Facebook updates, as you’d expect, and merges them into one big stream, but it can also show you emails, for an integrated experience that doesn’t require you to check a dozen different apps just to see what new messages you’ve received. Whether this will be big or not really depends on the specifics of its execution, but if it will be able to act as a ‘good enough’ client for Twitter, Facebook, and email, it may be one of the killer features of the Galaxy S II.
The screen transitions have also received a makeover, although pressing the Home button sometimes results in quite noticeable lag. Of course, this was pre-production hardware (that did not even have the NFC front-end installed), and things will surely improve before the Galaxy S II is in the shops.
The phone really is lighter than you’d expect for its size. It’s also noticeably slim, and the fact that the back plate is not very irregular in shape contributes to the device feeling very good in the hand. I’d say that it’s one of the easiest to handle of the 4.3-inchers, if not the easiest. Samsung realized that having that gigantic of a screen really requires the device to be slim in order for one-handed use even to be conceived of. And it has delivered on that front.
The display is vibrant, as you’d expect, although, without direct comparison to the older Super AMOLED tech, it’s tough to see what’s improved. It does look stunning, and the contrast is exceptional.
Here’s a quick hands-on video showcasing some of the aforementioned features of the Samsung Galaxy S II:
And here’s a full gallery of the Samsung Galaxy S II to feast your eyes upon:
If you liked the post, you might find these interesting too:
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 and Galaxy S 2 Pictures Emerge in the Flesh, in Time for MWC
- Samsung Makes Galaxy S II Truly Official at MWC
- Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 hands-on video at #MWC11
- Samsung Galaxy S II now official in US, heading to AT&T(Galaxy S II), T-Mobile, and Sprint(Epic 4G Touch)
- Hands-on with the Samsung Galaxy S II (Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile)