With the rapid-fire release of one smartphone after another, it's easy for once-great phones to quickly become obsolete. Luckily, the Samsung Galaxy S II is one device with staying power, and its appearance on U.S. Cellular's network is a slam dunk.
There are two things to be aware of: this is a 3G phone on U.S. Cellular, and the cost is a little steeper than on other carriers: $229.99 after a $100 mail-in rebate, and with a new two-year activation. It's also costlier than other U.S. Cellular phones at the time of the review.
Editors' note: This review focuses on the differences between the Samsung Galaxy S II on U.S. Cellular and the Samsung Galaxy S II on other networks. You can read up on the full feature set here.
Design and features
The Samsung Galaxy S II maintains the same design as the T-Mobile and Sprint versions of the phone. It starts with a trim, rounded rectangle candy bar design, and has a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED screen that's just beautiful, rich, clear, and vivid. (AT&T's model has a 4.3-inch screen. Its Galaxy S II Skyrocket variation has the larger display.)
There's a nice, strong 2-megapixel camera on the front that's great for video chats, but the best lens yet is the 8-megapixel one on the back, which continues to take excellent shots on every Galaxy S II variation we've seen. Auto-focus and an LED flash help out.
The processor is of the Sprint variety: a 1.2GHz dual-core Exynos processor, versus T-Mobile's 1.5GHz dual-core ticker. It nevertheless creates a speedy environment for internal processing. If the 16GB of internal storage isn't enough for you, a microSD card slot behind the back cover can accommodate up to 32GB more.
Samsung and U.S. Cellular added a slew of apps to the phone, which is fine if you enjoy having presets when you unbox a new device. AllShare is Samsung's DLNA app for sharing media to compatible devices. There's also Amazon.com, Amazon MP3 store and app store, and the Kindle shortcut. Audible, an audiobook store, is also present. So are CityID, Daily Perks, IMBD, and a couple of HD game shortcuts. You'll find Samsung's media hub and social hub; U.S. Cellular-branded mobile TV and ringtone store; plus a memo pad and a photo editor. Polaris Office will help you get things done, and a Zappos shortcut will enable your next mobile shoe purchase.