You'll find your usual complement of Android features in the Exhibit II 4G, like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, multimedia messaging, and a nearly limitless phone book.
There are all the usual Google services to play with, such as Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps with turn-by-turn voice navigation, Google Places, and the built-in music player you can use when you've inserted a microSD card.
Samsung adds its AllShare DLNA, Kies Air syncing apps, and Samsung Social Hub. T-Mobile also adds a load of services, including the subscription-based T-Mobile TV HD. The service costs $12.99 per month after a 30-day trial. Other features are 411, Bonus Apps, Highlight, My Account, My Device, T-Mobile Name ID, Wi-Fi calling, and Visual Voicemail. TeleNav voice navigation is another option.
In addition to that, there are Bejeweled 2 and Tetris demos, the Blio e-reading app, Lookout Anti-Virus, Mini Diary Polaris Office, Slacker Radio, and Zinio Reader. Qik video chat makes use of the front-facing camera.
The 3-megapixel camera with flash takes care of still and videos. The image quality is pretty clear and sharp, though the colors aren't as vibrant as you get from other more technically powerful cameras. Still, the Exhibit II 4G did a pretty good job. Even the front-facing VGA camera is fairly even and clear.
I tested the GSM (850/900/1800/1900; UMTS/HSPA+) in San Francisco using T-Mobile's network. Call quality was very good in my tests. The volume was loud, voices sounded strong, clear, and true, though a tiny bit hazy, and there wasn't any other regular background noise. I did intermittently hear an odd high-frequency whine, though it wasn't disruptive enough to throw off the conversational flow. It was more or less the same story on the caller's end as well, with strong volume and a clear background line, plus voice quality that was a tad muddy around the edges.
Samsung Exhibit II 4G call quality sample
Speakerphone was very loud for both parties when I held the phone at waist level, a plus in this case since this regular test caller has noted that other phones slice volume in half. Still, my voice sounded distant and echoey to my caller, who added that she didn't want to maintain a longer conversation over it if she didn't have to. The echo was also apparent on my end, but less so, and the line remained clear, without background interruptions or blips.
As for speed, the Exhibit II 4G performed well on T-Mobile's HSPA+ network. The CNET mobile-optimized site loaded in 14 seconds, but the full site loaded in a speedy 19 seconds. It was just 4 seconds for the highly optimized ESPN mobile site, and 15 seconds for the desktop version to load. Out of the real world and into the world of diagnostics, things weren't quite as impressive. I used Ookla's Speedtest.net app in various locations throughout San Francisco. Download speeds ranged from a low of 0.20Mbps to a high of 4.69Mbps. Upload speeds were typically slower, peaking at 1.68Mbps. Although these numbers pale in comparison to Verizon's 4G LTE speeds, which regularly reached the 20Mbps range, the real-world experience was satisfying.
Those who are accustomed to dual-core processors will notice a little bit of lag when navigating around the Exhibit II 4G, but it's very minimal given the 1GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, and didn't detract from the phone's usability.
If you're all about bang for the buck, the Samsung Exhibit II 4G could be your next Android phone. It may not look as upscale as Samsung models like the $50 , but for $30 on contract and $200 off, it delivers irreproachable value. The cameras are quite decent, call quality is solid, and HSPA+ speeds are there. It's also packed with some very useful apps, like Qik and T-Mobile TV. It may not be top-of-the-line, but if it's an affordable, reliable Android Gingerbread phone you're after, this one's tough to beat for the price.