Samsung Galaxy S II for AT&T review: A legend reborn

Stefan Vazharov, 2 October 2011.
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User interface: Gingerbread and the latest TouchWiz

The Samsung Galaxy S II for AT&T runs Android 2.3.4 Gingerbread, wrapped in Samsung’s own TouchWiz UI. The latest version of the launcher, like we’ve told you before, is nothing short of impressive. We have prepared a video of it in action.

The changes in TouchWiz 4.0, compared to its previous versions, begin at the very lock screen, which you can now remove by swiping in any direction, rather than just sideways. The cool feature where missed events (messages, calls etc) get their own unlock patterns is still here too.

It has become evident, that the AT&T version of the Samsung Galaxy S II suffers a lockscreen security glitch. More about it, along with the remedy, can be found right here.

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The lockscreen can be removed by swiping in any direction

The homescreen got plenty of tweaks too. You get rectangular design for the widgets and a lot of functionality. The process of adding widgets is visually enhanced too with attractive transition effects.

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The AT&T Galaxy S II homescreen

Editing the homescreen panes is business as usual – you pinch zoom-out to display an aggregate view of all panes, which you can then easily rearrange, delete or add.

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Editing the homescreen

Some of the proprietary Samsung widgets allow you to edit them directly on the homescreen. We find this feature to be particularly neat.

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Editing a widget directly on the homescreen

The numbered dots that identify the homescreen panels serve as a scroll bar too. A press and hold on the dots lets you scroll sideways through the resized images of the available homescreen panes in one short go rather than with several swipes.

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Scrolling between homescreens looks great

The app launcher is improved as well. You can now create folders inside it (though given that folders are enabled on the homescreen we don’t see much use for that here).

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The app launcher

Creating folders is pretty easy stuff – in edit mode you drag the icons you want over to a blank folder icon at the bottom of the screen. Then you drag the folder to the screen on which you want it to be placed and pick a name for it.

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Creating a new folder

The notification area has been slightly redesigned in TouchWiz 4, but there aren’t any major changes to functionality there.

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The notification area

The task manager, which Samsung has preinstalled, offers a lot of functionality. Now, with 1GB or RAM and with the new Gingerbread policy of keeping resource-hungry background processes in check, we are not sure you will need to enter the task manager all that often, but it doesn’t hurt having it. It also comes with a handy widget which shows you the number of active applications straight on your homescreen.

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The task manager and its widget

With the Exynos chipset doing its magic inside, the overall user experience is pretty smooth on the Galaxy S II. For more on this, join us on the next page, where we’ll take a closer look at the dual-core Cortex-A9 CPU and the Mali-400MP GPU and their performance.

CPU performance: still better than everything except…another Galaxy S II

The Exynos 4210 chipset is where the Samsung Galaxy S II for AT&T gets its special powers from – just like the I9100. With a couple of Cortex-A9 cores, clocked at 1.2 GHz, and a Mali-400MP GPU to go with a healthy gig of RAM, this phone is nothing short of a benchmark monster. We’ve run a few benchmarks and the results are unsurprisingly good.

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Quadrant • AnTuTu • Pi • Linpack

Things are no different in with the browser benchmarks as you will see below.

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Vellamo benchmark

The Exynos chipset is still faster than anything else on the market. With higher clock speed versions of it in the Samsung pipeline, we suspect that its dominance will continue.

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