This Samsung Galaxy S ll is quite a lovely phone. The screen is a nice easy to read size with crisp graphics. The WiFi is very fast, In fact it seems to me using the WiFi is faster than any other device I’ve used recently. It would be hard to prove that, however. One thing I am very impressed by is the 8 megapixel camera. It’s undoubtedly the best I’ve seen on a phone to date. If you look at the bee at the top that is a crop (not zoomed in) of a section of one of the images taken with the Galaxy S ll. You can see the wings of the bee very clearly. And I was a bit unsteady as I tried to get close to the bee without scaring it away. You can see the entire image in the photo album here:
I generally keep the default settings but one I feel really makes a difference is changing the ISO to 400. I assume this imitates a faster shutter speed of a film camera. The higher the ISO number the more sensitive the image sensor is to the amount of light present.
I discovered this while i was taking pictures on a rainy day. This one is using the default ISO which I think is 100:
While looking around for useful and fun Android Apps I discovered Magnify.
You don’t have to have old eyes to have trouble reading that darn small print. You can now hold your phone over your Aunts medicine label and actually read it without squinting. This has so many practical and fun uses that even a NON-geek friend of mine was impressed when I showed it to him. You basically hold the phone at least four inches over the target, tap the “eye” to force a focus. It does that quickly letting you read those darn tiny words. And you can also take a photo – with or without flash. It’s quite a nice app. Here’s some images I took:
If you wish to see the images from the album just click on them directly. It will take you directly to the album so you can zoom in and examine in detail.
Before i leave this topic I’d like to point out that because I connected my gmail account with the Galaxy S ll phone and I have Google+ every time I take a picture I have it set up to “instant upload” to Google+
This is incredibly convenient – especially for me. Each instantly uploaded photo is placed in a private album. When I go to my G+ account I can then move each image to whichever album I wish. In my case it’s generally to the album dedicated to the phone I am reviewing. I’ll be doing a future article on G+……..
WiFi * 3G * 4G
The Samsung Galaxy S ll has 4G, 3G and WiFi. I have always had some trouble getting a good Sprint signal at home. I think I am in a digital hole or something. After all, I do live in a Metropolitan area, not in the boondocks, so I’m not sure what the problem is. It does get a bit better away from the house. Compared to past Sprint phones the signal on the Galaxy S ll is much better and I do get fewer dropped calls. I’m explaining this because I’m not sure if an issue I am having is the phone or my lack of Sprint signal. I was under the impression that the Galaxy S ll was supposed to “automatically” switch to 4G if the WiFi signal gets out of range. It certainly seems to always be on 3G (I mean I have it turned on and doesn’t go off. But then it’s for data).
In this screen-grab WiFi is on. I’m told I can’t have WiFi on if I wish to use 4G:
4G disconnected and 3G is on…probably because a photo is being uploaded.
This screen-grab shows that the signal is not found. The phone does not seem to be able to automatically switch between WiFi and 4G. I have to manually tap the WiFi button to turn it on. And at home I have a very healthy WiFi signal. The Phone doesn’t have to try hard to find it.
At home when I tap the 4G button it does go into ‘4G scanning’ mode. In moments it disconnects because, as I have said, I have crappy Sprint signal at home. But no switcheroo to WiFi.
The Galaxy S ll comes with a music player. I uploaded a few mp3’s and the phone put them in a folder it called “Bluetooth” because I suppose that was the method I used. The music player just seems to know where those files are and I can play them from the list. Unless the song comes with it’s own image one of several images are supplied as background. A tap on the screen gives me other features, like the slider to move the song along and randomizing the play list,
When playing music I love that the GUI is added to the nice pulldown menu so I can access it (pause or go to the next song) without having to find the app. Very nicely done. I plugged my headphones in – sound is good.
You can now turn your smart phone into Mr. Spocks Tri-Quarter. Sort of. Try Metal Detector. The Sweet spot seems to be around near the camera. Wave it around and find hidden metallic objects. It really does work. When it gets RED and vibrates you’ve hit IT!!
With AndroSensoryou can examine all sorts of technical details of the phone and your surroundings. I was able to get the screen to register all ten on my fingers. Yes, this stuff is Exciting!!
With Speedtestyou can see how fast your connection is.
Opera Mini continues to be one of my favorites on any phone. And they keep improving it.
Here is Opera Mini with tabs (see that “2” on the bottom of the screen? Two tabs are open). It’s very easy to add and switch between tabs. And Opera is Very Fast on this phone.
Nook works very nicely on the Galaxy S ll. Even on a smaller screen the reading is comfortable and easy.
Careful tap and drag will get let you select text. I love that I can highlight this or add a memo. Turning down the corner bookmarks that page.
Sometimes I turn the page just to see how lovely the animation is.
The Nook shop
There’s two ways to connect the Galaxy S ll to one’s computer via the USB cable. If you plug the cable in to your computers USB port it is immediately “seen” as a ‘camera’. This is how it shows up on my Ubuntu:
This is the notification on the phone that it is USB MTP-connected. If you only wish to see the photo’s on your phone this is an ok process.
On the other hand if you want complete access to all the files on your phone you must connect it like a storage device. Before plugging in the cable, go to the settings, then the USB Utilities.
You are then instructed to connect the USB cable from the phone to the computer.
then tap the “Connect USB storage” button and your computer will see a storage device open a file manager as usual and move around whatever files you wish. When you are done just go back to the screen on the phone with the green android fella and tap on the words telling you to disconnect from the PC.
You can also Tether the phone to the computer simply by going to the settings – “Tethering”. Plug the phone in via USB cable, Tap yes to tethering and BAM, little blue icon appears at the top of the screen indicating that you can share the phone’s WiFi with the computer. Instructions are included.
If you are dying to see the Large Hadron Collider experiments working on your phone install LHSee.
I’m still not sure what to do with this (not being a physics PhD), but I just like the Idea that I can see collisions on a smart phone.
PressReader, an App I’ve reviewed before works great on the Galaxy S ll. On the main page you can either read OR listen to the entire issue of that newspaper. Just tap the “audio” icon:
This brings you immediately to the front page of that paper. As the audio is reading the article you can change the volume, go to the next article or previous if there is one and you can see how long it will take to listen to the article.
When you are done listening you can read the usual way
Being a HUGE fan of the Showtime TV program, Dexter it should come as no surprise that one of my favorite Apps is Dexter. It lets you choose wallpapers, watch episodes, and previews, get Dexter notifications, read about the cast, and make your own amusing picture with that delightful Dexter flavor.
The Samsung Galaxy S ll phone is quite a delightful muffin. Or was that Dexter’s donut? No, really, it’s a honey. I can get lost in the live wallpapers and the fun apps and the fabulous camera. Wow!
No phone is perfect and the Samsung Galaxy S II, while coming close, really only fails in the bundled software. Samsung has little tweaks all over the interface which are largely fine. The dialer, which includes quick name lookup, is nice and the other tweaks are either improvements or simply brand the Samsung Android experience more closely to them.
The real failure is the inclusion of Vlingo. Vlingo is a voice controlled assistant. Have you heard of Apple/iPhone’s new Siri? Vlingo is Siri’s mentally challenged cousin. It was one of the first and in our very humble opinion it’s one of the weakest. It has problems understanding what you say even when you stick to the letter of the suggested commands. If you tell it to dial someone, and by some minor miracle it gets the right person, it then asks you which of their numbers to dial. Showing you their name repeated for each number but without showing the actual numbers. So it’s a guessing game! Which you loose.
Since this isn’t a Vlingo review let’s just say that if for some reason you don’t absolutely love it – it’s too bad. Because Samsung/Vlingo provided no way at all to turn this off. Which is a crime since Android’s own Voice Dialer and Voice Search work very well and actually make sense. But if you double tap the HOME icon (which I do all the time to go the the launcher screen and then to the home screen of the launcher) instead I get Vlingo. Even if I tell it to not obey that double tap it does anyway. When I’m on a Bluetooth headset there is no way to use Google’s own included voice tools. Vlingo just steps in front of them and fails to understand anything I ask of it.
Where to Buy
The Samsung Galaxy S II is available from Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T under their various brandings. $199.99, $229.99 and $199.99 respectively.