The Korean giant released a powerful phone with as many features as bugs.
Samsung Galaxy S II has been out for about two months already, and no doubt it’s been a commercial success: with over 3 million units sold in only 55 days it’s the fastest selling device ever. The smartphone is the first dual-core device by the Korean manufacturer, but it’s storyline hasn’t been so smooth: first it was launched in February at the Mobile World Congress, later it’s been slightly delayed when Sammy learned HTC was releasing a smartphone faster than their one… so, after replacing the 1GHz processor with a new 1.2GHz overclocked CPU, the terminal reached shelves. And here the problems started…
We’re not speaking of the design that, like the first Galaxy S phone, reminds a lot of the iPhone; nor of the TouchWiz UI, which also looks exactly like the iOS UI, and is currently the main reason why Apple cited Samsung to court.
Materials look cheap and fragile. The display can break with ease (wasn’t is supposed to be Gorilla Glass?) and the back cover is so thin that you need to be careful when you remove it to introduce your SIM card. Most people who bought it use a cover to protect it, making it much thicker than it is: where’s the point in making a thin device if it practically requires a cover that doubles its size?
But the worst bugs appear after some time of use.
My friend Loris, like many other Italian bloggers, bought a Samsung Galaxy S II. Yes, he bought it with his own money, and that’s because Samsung is the only smartphone manufacturer that doesn’t give test samples to the blogosphere, at least here in Italy. So all the reviews that have been published come from devices that bloggers bought at the various retailers, without any discount from the end-users price (another anomaly of Samsung, while other manufacturers usually allow a 15/20% discount for bloggers). I am going to refer to his experience, and to a few tests I managed to perform from friends terminals, since in no way I am going to spend €600 just to review a device when I can test all the smartphones I want from HTC, LG, Motorola, Nokia, …
The first issue is overheating: after a few hours of use the Galaxy S II literally burns. The battery indicator reports a temperature almost always over 40°C and the whole terminal is way too hot to be normal. And other bloggers who bought the same terminal confirm they had similar experiences. This is for sure due to the overclock of the CPU, which also cause the next issue.
Battery life: true that all smartphones have a limited battery life, and you can’t pretend to use it several days after a charge. But this device doesn’t even arrive at the end of the day! When compared with an HTC Sensation, under the very same circumstances (connectivities, homepage widgets, sync frequency, etc.) the HTC lasts much longer despite having a 1520mAh battery versus the 1650mAh of the Galaxy S II. Furthermore the Sensation has a higher resolution qHD display that consumes more resources than it’s Korean contendant.
Another consequence of the processor’s overclock is an audio distortion: both system sounds and audio files play fine when the phone is still cold, but start being distorced after some time of use. Forget about using your phone as an MP3 player, it would kill your battery anyway!
The SuperAMOLED Plus display is beautiful, no doubt about it. The blacks are real blacks, but did anyone look at the whites? Are they really whites or rather blues? Incredible… And many users found annoying circular marks on it too. Thanks Candy for the screenshot below:
And what about the camera? Still photos are ok for a smartphone, low resolution videos too, but don’t even try to capture a video at 1080p or the autofocus will stop working and the whole video will look completely blurred… even the digital zoom doesn’t work at 1080p. What’s the point in having a camera capable to record full HD videos, if these videos can’t be seen afterwards?
We tried to reach Samsung and ask for some explanation, but despite the many emails and attempts to call their PR agency (LGM Network) at the phone none of us has received answers. People at LGM simply don’t reply at bloggers’ emails nor answer the phone!
Dear Samsung, you can write on your specification sheets that you have the thinnest and most powerful smartphone, but we think it would have been better to have a slightly less fast (not overclocked) processor and a couple extra millimeters thickness to mantain the same performances without all the issues your device is currently having. You are good at marketing and therefore sales fly, but users are not stupid and alread start complaining (see for instance these 87 pages of bug reports on a popular Italian forum!). We hope your next devices will be better designed, and that your consideration of the blogosphere will increase too.