Samsung Galaxy S II review

A fine phone and worthy champion – but the new kids have upped the ante Tested at £0

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Samsung Galaxy S2 review: our Best Smartphone, Awards 2011. A fine phone and worthy champion – but the new smartphones have upped the ante.


  • +


  • +


  • +

    big screen

  • +

    dynamic, colourful video

  • +

    new Kies wireless software is neat


  • -

    Lacks premium feel

  • -

    audio can be bettered

  • -

    no longer the latest Android OS

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 is our Award-winning smartphone for 2011. We were big fans of the original Galaxy S, and this Galaxy S2 summer update was a welcome evolution that brought small but brilliant tweaks across the board.

But that was then, this is now, and a host of new Android handsets, and the iPhone 4S, are vying for the crown.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 remains a slip of a phone. It’s featherweight and wafer thin – almost to its detriment, lacking gravitas for all its portability. It has a normal array of connections, but also includes a microUSB that cleverly doubles as an HDMI output (with a £25 cable).

Samsung Galaxy S II

Samsung Galaxy S II

Samsung Galaxy S2 review: Android 2.3

The 4.3in screen is striking. It’s a typical 800 x 480 resolution, but it looks good, which Samsung will attribute to its Super AMOLED Plus display.

There’s plenty of room on that customisable Android home screen for apps and widgets, and moving around the interface and arranging your icons is as easy as any other Android 2.3 phone.

Samsung focuses on grouped ‘hubs’ of content, such as Social, Readers, Music and Game areas. The increasingly formidable Android Market is here, too.

Connect it to your PC and Samsung’s new Kies software will load, letting you wirelessly sync music, video, contacts and more. It seemed a little slow to us, but it is new to market as we write.

While we’re talking wireless, you get DLNA support, too.

Samsung Galaxy S II

Samsung Galaxy S II

Samsung Galaxy S2 review: video performance

Internet browsing is fast – the Galaxy S II has a dual-core 1.2GHz chip – and the screen’s size comes in to its own.

It isn’t perfect compared with some new rivals, though: the screen has a strange tint at times, and scrolling speed through web pages can be erratic, speed-wise.

Another foible is the phone’s insistence that it can’t handle WAV files. It can, but does so by putting them in the file explorer rather than the music player. This aside – and with all the usual formats supported – the music and video performance is good.

There’s plenty of space to James Blake’s vocals and more upbeat tracks sound exciting, with only a lack of punch and precision compared with the iPhone 4S.

Video is handled smoothly, with brilliant colours and deep blacks making a dynamic picture, but newer arrivals offer more subtlety. The light weight and big screen mean it’s easy to watch.

The Samsung Galaxy S2 remains a formidable proposition but the next wave of smartphones has arrived – and it’s providing some tough competition, not least from Samsung's own Galaxy Nexus.

See all our mobile phone reviews

Follow on Twitter

Join on Facebook

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

Read more about how we test