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Samsung Galaxy S II has dual-core processor, we have hands-on

The Samsung Galaxy S II improves on one of our favourite phones with a dual-core brain, Android 2.3 Gingerbread, and flashy Super AMOLED plus screen.

The Samsung Galaxy S II reboots one of our favourite smart phones right up the jacksie, adding a dual-core processor and squaring the case's corners. 

The Galaxy S is a fun and powerful phone, but its successor looks to improve on some of our least favourite galactic features. The iPhone-wannabe case design has been smartened up, for example, with some of the understated cool that Samsung brought to the Google Nexus S. The back-lit touch-sensitive buttons and black case give the Galaxy S II a smartly monolithic appearance.

The Galaxy S II's 1GHz dual-core processor powers the latest version of Android for phones, Android 2.3 Gingerbread. 3.0 Honeycomb is out too, but it's intended for tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1.

A 4.3-inch screen is the Super-AMOLED plus type, which claims to be even sharper and more vivid than the Super-AMOLED display on the original Galaxy S. We've seen the screen in action, and not only is it as sharp as a freshly-trimmed toenail, it floats fantastically close to the surface of the phone. And if you fancy sharing your media on an even bigger screen, the phone supports Wi-Fi Direct, and DLNA for wirelessly streaming to your telly.

An 8-megapixel camera does double duty as an HD video camera, and the phone also supports HD video playback at 1080p and 30fps.

Samsung has smartened up its desktop-syncing software, Kies, which is a relief because it used to open the door to software hell. The new version introduces wireless syncing for your music and other files between your phone and your computer, so you can ditch that USB cable. But since syncing was massively unreliable in the original software, even over a cable, we'll have to give this feature a thorough test before trusting it to work.

Samsung's tweaks to the Android user interface have also had a refresh, with some tweaks to its social-networking widgets, for example. It's another area with plenty of room for improvement -- we weren't that impressed with its efforts on the first Galaxy S. But since the phone has access to zillions more widget options from the Android Market, it's not something we're losing sleep about. 

Like its star-dusted astronomical name-sake, we don't know yet when the Galaxy S II will come crashing into shops, causing untold gravitational disruption over millennia. In the meantime, have a look at our hands-on preview -- and stay tuned for more pictures and videos over the next few days.