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“Better late than never” – that’s what those who were eagerly waiting for the Samsung Galaxy S2 must be thinking as the next-generation Samsung handset, which was demonstrated at Mobile World Congress in February of 2011 and released in Europe early in late May in Europe. Today, Samsung is partnering with AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint to announce variants of the Galaxy S2 platform for these carriers. If you read this site, you may already know that Verizon has reportedly chosen to skip the Galaxy S2.

Hardware

samsung Galaxy SII hardware

Samsung Galaxy SII hardware highlights - Samsung slide

On the hardware and software sides, the American Galaxy S2 phones are just like their international/European counterparts. It uses a Super-AMOLED+, a Samsung Exynos C210 dual-core Soc from Samsung, which records 1080p at the highest bitrate on the market – we’ve tested that, and it’s true that 1080p recording is pretty impressive.

samsung Galaxy SII cpu

Samsung Galaxy SII CPU benchmark - Samsung slide

As Samsung pointed out in Mobile World Congress, it is very thin and light. In the back, there is a 8 Megapixel camera. Samsung has added a video editing app called Video Maker which allows users to edit videos… before sharing them.

samsung Galaxy SII video

Samsung Galaxy SII Video Maker - video editing tool

Google video chat is supported and it will be the main video chat from Samsung’s point of view. Skype video may work too, but we’ll have to confirm that.

The Galaxy S2 also has a battery that is 10% bigger than last year’s models from Samsung. It’s great, but in the real-world it doesn’t feel substantially different – we want to make sure that we set the expectations properly.

Work

Samsung Galaxy SII exchange

Samsung Galaxy SII Microsoft Exchange - Samsung Slide

We always say that the value is in the software, so let’s take a look. Samsung has spend some time refining the Microsoft Exchange experience – although it did not feel much different when I tried it in July. On-Device encryption is now hardware based, which is great for business users, as the encryption won’t consume as much power.

Samsung also supports VPN (including Cisco’s) and has partnered with Sybase to help IT departments manage mobile devices. You’ll have to sync with your own IT folks to see if it works.

Samsung Galaxy SII vpn

Entertainment

Samsung Galaxy SII media hu

You can get content on the Samsung Media Hub, which is an online service that is multi-devices. You can buy content once, and consume it on many devices. Content can also display content to any HDMI television. Samsung talks about “DVD quality”, so don’t expect 1080p content on this front. This setup is also compatible with HDCP, the copy-protection industry standard.

Samsung Galaxy SII voice

Samsung has also integrated the Samsung Voice Control Engine which lets users dictate commands for the phone to execute. Kies Air is there to help manage/sync content from a computer to the handset.

User Interface

The Touchwiz interface is cleaner than previous versions, although it did look very similar when I used a Galaxy S2 it this summer. There are also a number of user-interface optimizations that aim at reducing the number of taps or swipes required to navigate.┬áIf you are ready to “commit” to the Samsung platform, I recommend learning some of the new features as they will make your life better.

Social Hub

Social Hub used to be a widget experience, but now, the aggregation of social network content has more of an “app” feel. As it is the case with other application like this, it is possible to see updates, and interact with them directly from the update stream, without having to launch any particular app. It is also possible to sort by “subject” in addition of “by date”

Conclusion

In the end, the Galaxy S2 is pretty much what we expected it to be, and it has been adapted to the different networks for Sprint, AT&T and T-Mobile.

The Sprint version will be called the Epic 4G Touch ($199.99 with contract) and will run on Sprint’s Wi-Max (4G) network. The AT&T version is called Attain, and the T-Mobile one has been named Hercules. They will both will work on the companies HSPA+ (“4G”) networks. Expect pricing for all carriers to be comparable, but do take a good look at the data plan.

Specifications

Note: there are slight design differences between each versions, but expect the overall user experience to be very similar. The AT&T version seems to be the closest to the original one and the T-mobile phone seems to be a bit smaller.

  • 4G – HSPA+ (AT&T, T-Mobile) or 4G WiMax (Sprint)
  • Android (2.3 Gingerbread)
  • GSM Quad-band (850/900/1800/1900MHz)
  • UMTS Tri-band( 850/1900/2100MHz)
  • Screen: 4.3″ Super AMOLED+
  • Processor: Samsung 1.2Ghz dual core
  • Camera: 8MP AF with LED flash + 2MP front
  • Video Record: 1080p Full HD
  • HDMI Out: HDMI via HDTV Smart Adapter with HDCP
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0
  • Battery: 1650mAh

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