At Mobile World Congress 2011, Samsung introduced two new members to its Galaxy family. In the smartphones group is the Samsung Galaxy S II, which improves on its predecessor by adding such notable features as a dual-core processor and Android 2.3 Gingerbread.
The smartphone will be available in Europe and Asia this February as a GSM/HSPA+ device. Samsung says it doesn't have any current plans for a CDMA model, and pricing and U.S. availability were not revealed at this time.
The Galaxy S II features a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus touch screen. The Super AMOELD Plus display offers 50 percent more subpixels than the original Super AMOLED touch screen, and we certainly noticed it was sharper. Images and text just looked crisper and smoother, and colors continued to look rich.
Samsung has a habit of proclaiming its devices as the "smallest" and "thinnest" in the world, but this time we really believe it.
The Galaxy S II measures 4.93 inches tall by 2.6 inches wide by 0.33 inch thick and weighs 4.09 ounces. In the hand, it feels like most slate touch-screen devices, but when you look at from the side, you have to marvel at how thin Samsung was able to make this device.
One of our complaints about the previous Galaxy S phones was its plasticy build. There's still some of that with the Galaxy S II, but now, it also has a textured battery door, so at least it doesn't feel as slick as before.
As we noted earlier, the Galaxy S II is running Android 2.3 Gingerbread, but on top of that is the latest version of Samsung's custom user interface, TouchWiz 4.0.
Samsung didn't directly answer our question about what it has done to ensure timely updates, but we plan on cornering an executive at MWC 2011 to get an answer.
That said, TouchWiz 4.0 does bring some enhancements and additional features, including new hubs, such as Game, Music, and Readers, so users will be able to download more content from their smartphones.
The Readers hub (shown here) provides access to more than 2.2 million books and novels, 2,000 global and local newspapers in 49 languages, and 2,300 popular magazines in 22 languages.
The UI certainly looks attractive, but since the demo unit we were shown was very much a prerelease device and didn't have an active connection, we couldn't see what an actual book or the other hubs looked like.
As far as content, the Music hub offers tracks from 7digital and the Games hub is powered by Gameloft.
The widgets in TouchWiz 4.0 have also been given a slight makeover. Overall, they look more attractive, but we also felt a bit overwhelmed by all the information that was provided on widgets. Of course, you can customize the home screens with as many or as few widgets and shortcuts as you want, so we don't necessarily see this as a problem.
The Galaxy S II uses a Samsung dual-core chip. The company didn't really go into specifics about its dual-core processor and how it compares with its competitors, but it's believed the smartphone will use the recently announced Exynos processor.
Our experience was that its general navigation was speedy, but we also encountered some hiccups. Again, since we were shown a prerelease device, it'd be unfair to judge the smartphone's performance at this time.
There's also a 2-megapixel camera on front for video calls.
We should note that Samsung worked with Sybase and Cisco to add a number of enterprise features to the Galaxy S II to make it a more business-friendly device. This includes ondevice encryption and support for Cisco's mobile solutions for VoIP calls, VPN, and virtual desktop.