Fun with multimedia

Written by Gurjot Sachdeva | Updated: Jun 30 2011, 09:15am hrs
Following the immensely popular Galaxy S, Samsung has brought in another flagship model Samsung Galaxy S II, worlds second slimmest smartphone after the Nec Medias. You got that correct; its even slimmer than the iPhone 4. Galaxy S II is light as a feather, weighing 116 grams, which is a good 30-40 grams less than Motorola Droid X2 or the HTC Sensation.

The front panel of Galaxy S II is layered by glass that pans the entire contour of the phone with Home, Menu and Back keys below it. Towards the top of the screen is placed a 2 MP camera for video calls. The rear panel comprises of a grained matte finished plastic casing. Towards the bottom, the phone slightly bulges out and incorporates a small but effective loud-speaker. The 8 MP auto-focus camera with LED flash rests on the top of the rear panel. The wafer-thin plastic rear panel covers a SIM card slot. The top edge has a 3.5 mm ear jack with the power button towards its right. The left side profile includes the volume up/down buttons, while at the bottom you have a micro-USB slot.

The 4.3-inch WVGA Super AMOLED Plus screen is a treat to the eyes. Though the handsets 800480 pixel resolution is less than that of the HTC Sensation (960 x 540p), but deep blacks, colours, sharpness and vividness of the screen is par excellence. We watched high definition video on YouTube and found the display and colour depth picture-perfect. Your eyes can view the contents on the screen effortlessly even in sunny conditions.

The device boasts of Android 2.3.3 (Gingerbread) OS and Samsungs latest custom user interface, TouchWiz 4.0. As soon as you click the Home button, the lock screen welcomes you with your pre-selected image, time/date, and a notification bar for quick alerts. A quick finger swipe in any direction unlocks the phone. Seven home screens of the device can be customised with widgets and shortcuts to apps. At the bottom of the screen, are software buttons for Applications, Contacts, Messaging, and Phone. Dragging the top of the screen downwards displays a notification window. It not only shows the status of inbound/outbound data transfers and downloads but the five tiles allows one to change settings for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, Sound, and Auto-rotation functions.

One interesting feature of the TouchWiz 4.0 was an additional unique way of zooming (besides the pinch zoom) docs, images and webpages. You just need to place your two fingers on the screen; then moving the phone back and forth will cause the view to zoom-in or zoom-out.

The virtual keyboard incorporates keys that are well spaced out but you will still prefer typing in the landscape mode over typing while the phone is in vertical position. Adding numbers and punctuation marks gets a bit frustrating as you need not only switch the keyboard to the symbol mode but also have to scroll its 3 sets (1 set viewed at a time) to hunt for the right character. Besides, features such as predictive text input can be activated from the keyboard settings.

Samsung Galaxy S II has an impressive 8 MP auto-focus camera. Auto-focus, macro view, face detection and blink detection are some of the features to assist the camera. The highest resolution at offer is 3264 x 2448p. However, we soon realised that the camera could not do much in indoor low lit areas. Even with LED flash on, the images felt just slightly short of perfection. The 2 MP front facing camera captures your perfect non-pixelated image for video calls/conferencing. The camera can also record HD videos at a resolution of 1920x1080p. We would have been pleased further had an option of trimming videos was at offer right after recording as in case of iPhone 4 where you can trim the video from a desired frame.

The call quality is definitely not the best in class, as person receiving the call often complained of low voice volumes. Keeping the call on loud-speaker gave audible sound volumes for office/home environments but taking or making calls in noisy outdoors was not that a good experience. Also, the positioning of loud-speaker on the lower rear bulge of the phone lowers the sound output when the phone is kept over a surface as the phone rests on that rear bulge covering the speaker altogether.

The battery of the Galaxy S II lasted a good full day of normal usage. This included calls, Web browsing, music sessions and e-mailing. On a weekend, when we tend to use a smartphone more for Web contents and playing multimedia, the battery was to be charged by evenings. Overall, the average battery back-up is close to six hours which is good if not the best in class.

In essence, light weight, sleek design, best features, Android 2.3 and vivid display make it a perfect lure for the smartphone users. Must buy!