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Hands on: Samsung Galaxy S ll. Is it really the best smartphone ever
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Hands on: Samsung Galaxy S ll. Is it really the best smartphone ever

On first look you could easily mistake the Samsung Galaxy S ll 4G for an Apple iPhone 4..its predecessor the Galaxy S looked so much like the iPhone 3GS Apple sued. but once you pick up the S ll it becomes clear this is no iPhone knock off.

The Samsung GalaxyS ll 4G is a big black slab reminiscent of the monolith in 2001 A Space Odyssey. It is just as ephemeral..at 117 grams ( oz) and 8.49mm ( in) thick the Galaxy S ll almost isn’t there.

But don’t let the thin profile and light weight fool you..this is one powerful device.

Display: 4.3″ Super AMOLED Plus
Screen resolution: 480 x 800 pixels
CPU: dual-core 1.2 GHz processor
RAM: 1 GB
Internal memory: 16 GB
Expandable memory: up to 32 GB (microSD)

No argument the Super AMOLED plus screen is the best in the business..bright, good contrast and ultra deep blacks..it is so impressive you can forgive the colours being slighty off and the fact that qHD (960 x 540) resolution is fast becoming the norm among top-tier smartphones and that the GSII’s 800 x 480 is therefore a bit behind..but, fantastic viewing angles do compensate.

 I have never been a fan of Samsung’s Touch Wiz interface but, version 4 is a bit of an improvement and I do like the active widgets that come with it..they allow you cram a lot of information on to a home screen. I also like the Reading Hub especially since the bookshelf is driven by Kobo which is my favorite e-book store. The rest of the hubs don’t have a heck of a lot to offer.

Performance is terrific..moving between screens is fast and as smooth as silk. Apps even big games load quickly and operate really well..the big 4.3″ screen real helps with multimedia stuff. Videos are a joy to watch.

The front facing camera is better than average for video calling and the main 8MP camera takes really good pictures in good lighting conditions and it is very fast..shot and saved almost instantaneously. 

The video camera works well in good lighting conditions and takes really good 1080p HD video but expect problems (as with all camera camcorders) fast moving subjects moving horizontally across the screen.

To this point you would think I am agreeing that the Galaxy S ll 4G is really the greatest smartphone ever. Sorry! On paper this is a great phone but Samsung has sacrificed ergonomics for design. For starters putting the power button on the side was a really bad idea..it is directly opposite the volume rocker so I mute the phone every time I try to use the power button. Perhaps the big home button a la iPhone was a good design decision, but I really miss the search button.

Worst of all is the the way the phone feels in my hand. Because it is super thin and just about completely flat I can’t seem to get a good grip on it and I feel uncomfortably close to dropping it. Plus it feels way bigger than it is. I handed the Galaxy ll to seven strangers and after they finished oohing and aching about how thin it is, they all hated the way it felt in the hand.

Form over function has turned a technically superior smartphone into an uncomfortable to hold slab. But, thin sells so, I expect The Samsung Galaxy S ll 4G will do well at Bell where it sells for $169.95 with a 3 year contact and $599.95 with no term and at Virgin Mobile where the price is $169.99 on Virgin’s SuperTab and $599.99 with no contract.

Bob Benedetti

Former RCAF Fighter Pilot Bob worked for CTV Montreal as a Reporter, Producer and Executive producer for 35 years retiring in 2004. Bob started reporting on personal technology in 1995 at CTV and continues today at Home Technology Montreal

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