Jessica Dolcourt is a passionate content strategist and veteran leader of CNET coverage. As Senior Director of Commerce & Content Operations, she leads a number of teams, including Commerce, How-To and Performance Optimization. Her CNET career began in 2006, testing desktop and mobile software for Download.com and CNET, including the first iPhone and Android apps and operating systems. She continued to review, report on and write a wide range of commentary and analysis on all things phones, with an emphasis on iPhone and Samsung. Jessica was one of the first people in the world to test, review and report on foldable phones and 5G wireless speeds.
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Samsung, more than any other phone maker, knows how to run with a good thing. T-Mobile's version of the Samsung Galaxy S II is the fourth of this family we've seen, after the unlocked version, and iterations for Sprint and AT&T. The good news is we've been impressed with each one.
The first time we laid eyes on T-Mobile's Samsung Galaxy S II, it was under glass, so it wasn't until a T-Mobile launch party last night that we were able to wrap our fingers around it.
Like the HTC Amaze 4G we also saw last night, the Galaxy S II has the distinction of being one of the first two phones to run on T-Mobile's HSPA+42 network, with theoretical data speeds reaching 42Mbps down.
Also like the Amaze 4G, the Galaxy S II for T-Mobile comes with a 1.5GHz dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon S3 processor. The chipset makes the phone slightly thicker than its AT&T and Sprint siblings, which run on Samsung's Exynos 1.2GHz processor.
In addition, T-Mobile's model has a 4.5-inch Super AMOLED Plus touch-screen display (larger than AT&T's 4.3-inch version and the same as Sprint's) and runs Android Gingerbread 2.3.5, the absolute most recent build there is at this time. Other specs include 16GB of internal memory; a 32GB expansion slot; a 2-megapixel front-facing camera; an 8-megapixel rear-facing camera with flash, auto-focus, and a ton of settings inside; and a Micro-USB charging port that also doubles as an HDMI-out port, so long as you have an MHL HDMI adapter. There's DLNA support as well.
In the hands
Although we know our way around a Galaxy S II by now, we did appreciate that T-Mobile took the time to give its model a slightly unique character with its more rounded edges. The gorgeous Super AMOLED Plus screen always stands out for its high-contrast ratios that make colors pop, and its clear, bright screen, even when in power save mode.
The phone was comfortable to hold, though the screen size most definitely qualifies it as a jumbo phone. We were once again able to appreciate the high photo quality, the resizable widgets, and TouchWiz's easy access to Wi-Fi settings and more. As a fun party trick, you can press and hold the bottom of the application tray and the home screens. The multiple screens will blur when you move your arm to and fro.
One thing we weren't able to test out was T-Mobile's network speed, at the carrier's request.
We'll still have plenty to scrutinize when we give the handset a thorough once-over, but considering the unlocked version won an Editor's Choice award, and the Sprint version, the Samsung Epic 4G Touch got high praise, we're confident this model will live up to its promise.
The price is about right, too--$229.99 with a $50 rebate and a new, two-year service agreement. It's a little pricier than Sprint's model, which comes in at just about $200, so it's a sure thing T-Mobile is charging more for the extra processing zip and amped-up HSPA+42 speeds.
You can get the Samsung Galaxy S II starting October 12 at a T-Mobile store, or October 10 from the carrier's Web site.