Galaxy S II

Samsung Galaxy S II OS, Interface and Apps Review

The Samsung Galaxy S II comes with one of the fastest interfaces, with the TouchWiz 4.0 and Android coming in with the 1.2GHz processor, and the 1GB RAM to hold a lot from within!

The Android OS with the TouchWiz 4.0 gives a brilliant interface, with something that makes the user experience very easier and better. When compared to the Sony Ericsson, HTC and LG phones, the TouchWiz is played a lot more and resulted into a custom user interface which you can fall in love with, at your first few hours of usage. Plethora of options, arranged in a well mannered fashion, the multiple home screens, the mix of colors, the list of pre-loaded apps, the Android Market (yeah, really worth a mention), a few Samsung apps, the Social hub, and if the list is extended, it would never end!

samsung galaxy s ii hub

When the SGS II was started up for the first time, we saw 7 home screens which could be slided left-to-right and vice-versa, and they were beautifully filled with the widgets of social sites, news apps, mail, bookmarks, finance and a few shortcuts to folders. Overall, you can set up the stuff you want on the home screens, and make changes to the wallpaper, can place a live wallpaper with all the glitter moving on the background. Unlike the other Android phones, you can edit the multiple home screens by long pressing the screen and there you get the list of options and widgets in the bottom, with the movable home screens above it.

samsung galaxy s ii homescreen  samsung galaxy s ii homescreen  samsung galaxy s ii homescreen

In the earlier versions, i.e. Samsung Galaxy S, Ace and LG Optimus 2X etc. you need to edit the single home screens and move to the next by starting it all over again. Samsung and Android together brought in a lot of apps already, before you start using it. The best ones include the default Gmail, the Social hub, the readers hub, the game hub, latitude, Google talk, news and weather app, Voice search and voice command, FM radio and the other basic office applications. Mind you, this is an Android phone so you would have to see the abundance of Google services and apps, but none are worthless.

samsung galaxy s ii homescreen menu  samsung galaxy s ii add widgets

Talking about the specifications that come internally, the Dual-Core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex processor speeds up the phone, and the Galaxy S is snail speed when compared to the SGS II. The device is optimized in such a way that the multiple app usage, switching the apps while they are still running, and anything that might put a load on the speed, would still be handled well and there is a minimum lag while performing any tasks.

Comparing the interface with one of the best around – the HTC Sense, the TouchWiz 4.0 still needs some touches to make it look more appealing, but it is still good enough. The apps list can be seen in either a grid view or in a list view, the grid being an option of choice where you can have the several pages with arranged apps in various categories. The personalization options have a big list, where you can take the usage of the phone to the next level. Voice commands and the Sensor-powered gestures are a couple things we are quite impressed with – after a heavy usage of Galaxy S, where these were not present.

Motion Specific Options

A section called “Motion” in the settings, is a bliss. Wide range of options where your actual movement of phone in the hands would shake off things in the interface. Let’s check each option of its –

  • Hold down the application icon and move the phone physically left or right, and the app icon would roam around in the direction you move the phone – This is called Panning. In this option, you can move the icons on the home screens, or do the same while editing the app pages, and arranging the app icons.
  • Turn Over – This is an option using which you can silent the incoming calls, and any sounds being played in the phone, instead of using your fingers to press the volume button and silent the ringtone for an incoming call. When you are receiving an incoming call, just turn the phone upside down and back to normal and the ringtone gets silent.
  • Tile – Using this option, hold 2 fingers on your SGS II screen and tilt the phone back and forth, to enlarge or shrink the images while you are browsing them in the gallery, or while browsing the web pages in the Android web browser.

samsung galaxy s II panning  samsung galaxy s II double tap  samsung galaxy s II tilt  samsung galaxy s II turnover

No Android smartphone would be able to manage with 7 homescreens filled with shortcuts and widgets, but the SGS II does that well. There is barely a lag seen, thanks to the 1.2GHz Exynos chipset of Samsung. This is added by 1GB of RAM, where we see 837MB available. The benchmarking tests (we did one, shared in the images below) did show the results having SGS II having a score more than double than that of the standard Android smartphones – Galaxy S, Nexus S, LG Optimus 2X etc.

samsung galaxy s II benchmark  samsung galaxy s benchmark

Android 2.3 Gingerbread and the Android Market

The Samsung Galaxy S II has the latest version of the Android OS, i.e. the Gingerbread and with this, there is a certain improvement from the previous versions, which the users who had a good hand on Froyo, would understand. For those who would have a first time touch on Android, this is the best version of the Android OS you would be using. There is an Android market, with the free and paid apps available in various categories. Can’t compare the Android Market and the Apple App Store, both are nearly the same – Download, Review, Rating, Categories etc. The main page of market shows a carousel of the best apps that you can download, and there is a section where you can check the applications that you downloaded.

android market galaxy s ii  android market app page  android market my apps page

The Lock Screen

Sammy and Android, just like the other brands and OS, have tried to be innovative even with the lock screen. The unlocking pattern is different, you can set the shape gestures as password, or without that the lock screen looks beautiful with the wallpaper of your homescreen replicating here, and apart from that the notifications of missed calls, unread SMS, and the notification tray showing the battery, network and the other notifications on the top (though the notification panel cannot be pulled open when the phone screen is locked). While the phone is being charged, you would see the charging status and the battery percentage on the bottom left of lock screen. The call screen has the contact’s latest social share, you can check the example below – The facebook status of the contact who is calling.

samsung galaxy s II lock screen notifications  samsung galaxy s II calling screen

Messaging

Messaging in the threaded view, would split the screen when you are on a landscape mode. Changing the font size is possible, and the background color can be set to either white or black. There is an option to limit the number of text messages per conversation, and the limit of multimedia messages. Delivery reports, and automatically retrieving of the messages, MMS creation mode and a lot more options. So the blackberry users who would always boast about their messaging and QWERTY would get a smash on the face. Messaging section in the SGS II is a charm.

samsung galaxy s ii messaging input page  samsung galaxy s ii messaging settings  samsung galaxy s ii messaging setting

Swype and typing

The default Samsung Keypad is what represents the normal touchscreen keypad, nearly similar to the iPhone keypad. But Swype, the best way to type using the touch interface, and one of the features where SGS II (infact all the Android phones) beat the iPhone. There are quite many swype settings that can make the experience a lot better and easier. You can select between the swype response speed and accuracy, select the swype language, predict text and suggestion of words while you are swyping the fingers over the keys, vibration on pressing of keys, auto capitalization and auto spacing between the words.

samsung galaxy s ii skype samsung galaxy s ii swype settings

Program Monitor

This is a widget that you can place on any homescreen, and it would alarm you with its glittering red color if the phone is using too much of RAM and won’t be able to handle more. A list and count of running applications is also shown. Here are the features the Program Monitor has –

  • Active Applications – Shows the list of apps that are active, running the background, the RAM being used by each app, CPU usage, and the apps that are putting a load on the CPU – become red colored in the list.
  • Downloaded apps – The list of the downloaded applications, with the size of each app and you can choose to uninstall any app directly from there.
  • RAM Status – This shows the RAM being used, out of the 837MB given totally for usage. When you see that a lot of RAM is being used, you can choose to Clear Memory by closing the inactive and background apps, and this would free the RAM, in the end making the phone faster.
  • System Storage – This shows the phone memory capacity and usage, SD card memory capacity and usage, and the USB internal storage.

program monitor active applications  program monitor downloaded apps  program monitor ram status  program monitor system storage

Listing out a few other bullet shot points about the apps and interface –

  • Download section to list out all the data, files etc. that you have downloaded from the internet. You could have used different browsers to download them, and they could be at different locations but from the Downloads section, you can have an access to all of them.
  • The same Program monitor that we talked about, would be available as the Task Manager in the apps list, so you don’t need to use it as a separate widget.
  • Apart from the Gmail app that comes pre-installed, there is also a Samsung mail client using which you can login to any mail account of yours and check for a better interface.
  • The notification panel has a lot of stuff to show, the options to control the sensor, the connectivity etc. It has the Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GPS, Sound and Auto Rotation.

samsung galaxy s ii notification panel options

There are a lot of options that you would see in the Settings section, most of which would be related to the connectivity of the phone. We would be reviewing that separately.

Overall, it is a sleek and beautiful interface. We give a 4/5 for this, better than the 3.5 that we gave for the Galaxy S II design.

12 Comments

12 Comments

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  5. Andres

    October 16, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    This week I bought a Samsung Galaxy S II. I have a problem and I looking for help. The problem: the phone don’t stay connected to the bluetooth of my Mercedez. The bluetooth of my phoneis on, is visiible, already paired with the car. It’s work fine for some hour. As soon I park my car, maybe I found that is not connected again. With others Samsung celular I never had that this type of problem. Once I program the phone with the bluetooth of my car, is connected for life. What is my problem with this celular? Help me

  6. Joseph Baiye

    July 26, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    my galaxy s hangs regularly after upgrading to gingerbread 2.3.2. pls advice what shld I do to get it running smoothly as it was before the upgrading. tx

    • NeaL Pradeep

      July 27, 2011 at 9:42 pm

      update with 2.3.4 XXJVQ for best speed and no issues!

      • Riyan

        August 6, 2011 at 11:29 am

        yeah that right..my GS too

  7. Serguei

    July 25, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Regarding the last picture in the article, why doesn’t it show internet connection via 3G? I want to know if it’s active and to be able to turn it off if I need to. It’s so easy and obvious thing to do.. I’m surprised Samsung didn’t do it.

    • NeaL Pradeep

      July 25, 2011 at 10:41 am

      you will have to configure apn setings!

    • Chetan Bhawani

      July 25, 2011 at 11:23 am

      In the Mobile Network settings page, you can do that in the Network mode – Select “GSM only” for the non-3G network, and select automatic if you want the phone to select 3G when available, and the Edge when 3G isn’t there.

  8. MUKESH Kumar Singh

    July 24, 2011 at 10:22 pm

    After using the iPhone for four years, now I’m using the S2 since 5th June. I’m of the view that majority of web reviews are stage managed and mainly focusing on the hardware side of the device. So, here is my review as a normal user, who mainly appreciates the functioning side of the device. I’ve compared the S2 with the iPhone mainly on angle of User Friendliness. Off course, S2 has many better features but iPhone is better to use on the day to day basis. Hopefully my feedback will help Samsung to improve this much hyped product. Till now, I have experienced the following short comings or the incompetency in S2:

    A USER’S REVIEW OF GALAXY S2

    1. Start from the shop… Samsung is unable to provide you a Screen Protector in the box of S2! It’s a must accessory and would cost them a very meager amount. Protector is NOT or easily available in the market even if you are ready to pay for it additionally. Samsung should make it mandatory for it self to provide a Protector for all type of its mobiles. 2. The S2’s mobile case is the next bad thing a buyer is noticing at the time of purchase! It has a great designing bug! Samsung has absolutely ignored its user friendly quotient! I failed to use it even for a minute and rejected it at the first stance! Not because of its material but the reason is its design. What a poor lady hand purse type of shape, inconvenient to keep it in pocket and keep out from the case to use every now and then!

    3. Now, the operational part of S2…

    Samsung is not providing the Hindi Compatibility. Why? Android 2.3.3 is very much supportive of Hindi, which is the national language of 1.21 billion Indians! But Samsung ignored Hindi in its Indian market version also. You may recall that while Froyo (2.2) only had support for 26 languages, Gingerbread is empowered with a whopping 57 languages. Hindi, India (hi_IN) is very much there in this extended list of supported languages of 2.3.3! Then why Samsung’s S2 is deliberately NOT having Hindi Support? Its note worthy that the Samsung is enjoying a large foot print in the Indian market. Yet, they ignored Hindi. Only God knows why! At least professionals at Samsung Support India don’t have any guess about this apathy! HINDI COMPATIBILITY SHOULD IMMEDIATELY BE PROVIDED BY SAMSUNG IN S2!

    4. I’ve found that there few more bugs with the S2! First is with the built in GMAIL App. You can NOT copy anything from the attachments of your Gmail account using this App, be it of any type of file! You will witness similar COPY/PASTE failure with majority of materials while moving through the built in Google browser. Google’s Transliteration (not the translation) Tool is also not working in its own browser! Samsung needs to find out a remedy of it. It requires immediate resolution from Samsung or Google or both.

    5. With S2, you will confront with similar COPY/PASTE problem elsewhere also. For example: suppose you want to send two or more contact numbers of one person from your address book which are stored under one contact to some body else through SMS. Then you can’t do this without copying each contact number independently to the note pad and then to clipboard of your SMS protocol, that too, only after going in EDIT mode of the contact. This is quite tedious route for such top end smart phone from Samsung and needs betterment!

    6. In the SMS protocol of S2, there are few bugs also! Suppose you receive a long SMS from someone. S2 will show the full text in your mobile. But if you want to forward this lengthy SMS to someone else, then the whole text of SMS will first convert into a Multi Media Massage (MMS) and then it (the SMS) will be sent to the recipient as an MMS. Now, your SMS thread will show it as SENT and but the receiver will NOT get this SMS (Converted into MMS) in their ‘In-box’. This bug also needs to be solved on priority by Samsung!

    7. Its note worthy that the iPhone can send a SMS of unlimited characters. And when the limit of an SMS exceeds, the remaining text moves to the second or third or fourth or fifth packets, but never hesitate from sending the long SMS. The Charges for long SMS will be decided on the basis of these packets by the service provider. This is desired in the S2 also. Long SMS converted into MMS may save the cost for the sender by that is waste as the recipient is not getting the MMS in all type of mobile handset. If you want, you may develop an option for MMS or SMS before sending but please empower the S2 for sending the long SMS.

    8. There is one more issue with regard to forwarding of the SMSs. Suppose you have five SMSs in one Thread of your S2, and you quickly wanted to forward Two or Three of them to some body else. Then you can not select these Two/Three SMSs to be copied to your Clip board in one stroke and then send it as a combined one! This feature is available in the iPhone but not in Samsung’s top end mobile S2. In S2, one has to Copy/Paste these selected SMSs one by one. Samsung/Android should try to develop these user friendly features and update the phone as soon as possible.

    9. In your built in Weather update feature, one can just get the updates of 10 cities. I believe, iPhone is not having any such limit! Also, in this nice App, there shall be feature of auto update at the defined intervals.

    10. S2 is having a NICE feature of Black Listed numbers for calls and SMS. But its capacity is quite small. It was made large if not unlimited. 11. Now, the design part of S2… Location of USB port for charging the S2 is also not designed at the user friendly place. Its top location like of the Galaxy S is perfect. That gives us perfect grip to carry on the use of device while keeping it in hand and also charging.

    12. FM Radio is a good feature of S2. But it has a handicap with it too. It’s unable to work without the headphones attached to it. I can understand that the headphones are working as an antenna for the device. But it means that one should always carry the headphone in pocket! Suppose, you missed it at your home or in office or in your car and after a while you want to listen the Radio then you can’t do it. In technical term this may not an issue but from user’s point of view it’s a lacuna. This could have been avoided at the design stage by compromising a little more weight and slimness of the device. Probably, this might have led to some antenna radiation issue also and then a better hardware solution would have been developed by the R&D experts!

    In conclusion, may I submit that in spite of having several new features, S2 is not better then an iPhone especially in term of user friendliness! Samsung is supposed to come out of these challenges! Will the Samsung care?

    Lastly, I feel sorry for those professionals who are working in Samsung India (Support) that they are very severely handicap to serve the patrons better..! I extend my sincere sympathies with such people who bear the pain of being so much dependent on their Korean masters..! All of them had told me that my concerns are genuine but can only be rectified by the Koreans and hopefully by the time next update will be released. But most unfortunately they have NO idea that how much this may take!

    Regards,
    Mukesh Kumar Singh

    Description of my handset: Samsung Galaxy SII Model No: GT-I9100 (Version: 11.05.20.01). Browser: Google.com Baseband Version: I9100DDKE4. Kernel Version:2.6.35.7-I91100XWKF3-CL276555 root@DELL101#2 Build Number: GINGERBREAD.XWKF3. Current Firmware Version: PDA: KF3 /PHONE: KE4 / CSC: KF3(INU).

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