Samsung's history in the smartphone game has been pretty quiet – a few budget offerings, some false starts with Windows Mobile and the popular Galaxy S is pretty much it.
With the Samsung Galaxy S2, the Korean firm has taken another step forward by putting all the best technology it can into a ridiculously thin mobile.
The Galaxy S2's main talking point is the Super AMOLED+ screen, featuring a whole host of new tech to make it far superior to even its predecessor.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The raised contrast ratio, better colour gamut and apparent 80 per cent reduction in power over the first version of the screen, all in a 2.1mm footprint, offer the best images we've seen on a mobile.
The design is nice, too – the thickness has been kept to less than 9mm, which means the Galaxy S2 sits really nicely in the hand.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The design aesthetic is very similar to that of the first Galaxy, with the main physical Home button flanked by the two touch-sensitive options for Menu and Back – and both are easy to hit, and respond to a feather-light touch.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The 4.3-inch screen doesn't actually feel as big as you'd think it might given the dimensions, but thanks to the reduced thickness Samsung has beefed up the screen size without a massive penalty.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The Galaxy S2 has also been spruced up with TouchWiz 4.0, a new version of Samsung's overlay for its smartphones.
It doesn't seem to be that different from the outset, but the notifications bar has been overhauled slightly to offer more pertinent functions and widgets are easier to manage from the Home screen.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
Samsung also promised that you could use the gyroscope to enhance the live wallpapers, with them moving around as you held the phone, but we couldn't seem to make that work – we'll have a better play with the settings in our full Samsung Galaxy S2 review.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The rear of the phone shares a design ethic with the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, with the mottled metallic shell underpinning the 8MP camera with single LED flash. We were hoping it would be a little bit better than that for a company with Samsung's imaging heritage, but it's fairly feasible that single LED unit could be brighter than the sun anyway.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The bottom of the phone is the place where a lot of the internals that make this a tech-heavy phone live – in order to keep it thinner, it seems Samsung has had to add a lip to the bottom to fit it all in.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
As you can see, the 3.5mm headphone jack can barely fit in the width of the device – the sub 9mm thickness is really exemplified here.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The Samsung Galaxy S2 has been confirmed as having the 'latest generation of Android on it', with the current iteration rocking Android 2.3.1. Whether or not this will be moving to Android 2.4 in the future, Samsung wouldn't confirm.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The range of applications on this TouchWiz 4.0-enabled device is quite standard from Samsung's point of view – some new toys such as Photo Editor make use of the dual core processing power, but it will be interesting to see what actually lands with the final version of the Galaxy S2.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The Social Hub is the same it's always been on the Samsung experience, but it's a little easier to open and send a message from the integrated inbox. It's no BlackBerry experience when it comes to seeing all your pertinent communication in one place, and we think the Hub should be in the messaging inbox, but this is a pretty well-designed system nonetheless.
The Music Player (which contained some great hits) feels very similar to previous iterations – we're fans of the Samsung Android music player, so this is no bad thing, but with the glut of improvements we were hoping for some visual tweaks and tricks to make use of the dual-core power.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
Pumping a spot of pop balladery out of the speaker wasn't the best way to assess audio quality, but it was loud and embarrassingly clear as music on a mobile goes.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
But screw the music – at least, that's how you'll feel when you see the Samsung Galaxy S2 video quality.
It's simply sensational. We have a lot of fun wowing (and then subsequently boring) people with the video quality of Super AMOLED, and we're thinking of having a specific party just to show off the prowess of the Galaxy S2 when it comes to movies.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
Samsung galaxy s2 review
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The response time of the device is what got us the most excited, as the smoothness and flow of the screen was exquisite. If it sounds like we're going a little over the top, it's because that's the sensation we got when using it, and in today's crowded smartphone market it's nice to see something that's still wow-worthy.
We're hoping the range of video codecs on offer is the same as it was with the first Galaxy, because this would make it into the best mobile media player bar none.
The messaging on the Samsung Galaxy S2 was a little different than before, with a lot more made of the 4.3-inch expansive screen. Swype is once again pre-installed on the device, but both the normal Samsung keyboard and the swiping option are well rendered and work nicely.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The camera, which we've mentioned earlier is an 8MP effort with a single LED flash, seemed to perform well in our test shots – the press area was too bright for any proper snapping with the flash, but the rest seemed clear and very quick to snap.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
The larger camera shutter button – while in no way a substitute for a physical key, which most manufacturers seems to not want any more in the quest for the thinner phone – is easier to hit than on most handsets, meaning you can pretty much just guess at its location without needing to look.
The gaming side of the Samsung Galaxy S2 is something that excites us as well, and we were impressed with the combination of the GPU and Super AMOLED+ screen. Compared to the iPhone version, NOVA looked phenomenal on the display, and the gyroscope was so accurate it gives us great hope for the future of gaming on Android now.
Samsung galaxy s2 review
Overall we're impressed with the Samsung Galaxy S2 – it's going to be a dual-core smartphone force, and it's certainly going to give the LG Optimus 2X a run for its money with that screen.
We want to give this a thoroughly good test in the near future because it's very much a phone that needs to be pushed to the limits, so keep an eye out for our Samsung Galaxy S2 review as soon as we an steal/get sent a review unit.