Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 review: Gone fishing
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 has the standard set of connectivity features - quad-band 2G and dual-band 3G with 14.4Mbps HSDPA and 5.76Mbps HSUPA.
The Wi-Fi support covers b/g/n with Wi-Fi Direct and DLNA is also part of the package.
There's also Bluetooth 4.0 LE, which builds on Bluetooth 3.0 with the efficient Low Energy mode. It has better range and uses less energy than previous iterations and is becoming quite popular with training accessories (like heart rate monitors and cadence sensors), elbowing out ANT+.
The Xcover 2 has a built-in A-GPS receiver that also works with GLONASS. With both global positioning systems, you get more satellites available, which improves lock times and accuracy both in the urban jungle and in an actual jungle.
Tweaked Jelly Bean browser
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 has a tweaked version of the Jelly Bean Android browser, but Chrome also comes pre-installed, if that's what you prefer.
Anyway, the default browser supports both double tap and pinch zooming along with the two-finger tilt zoom. There are niceties such as multiple tabs, text reflow, find on page and so on. A neat trick is to pinch zoom out beyond the minimum - that opens up the tabs view.
The Web browser comes with Incognito mode, which lets you surf the web without the browser keeping track of your history or storing cookies. You can also switch to a more minimalist UI, which currently is in a Lab stage. It disables most of the browser's user interface and gives you a quick five-button layout to access the basics.
Organizer and apps
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 comes with a number of cool apps preinstalled. The one glaring omission is an Office document editor - perhaps Samsung finally came to terms with the sheer amount of free office editors available on the Play Store.
The S Planner is a skinned calendar that is easy to use with your fingers. The tabbed interface lets you easily toggle between year, month, week, day list and task views.
The S Planner app can sync with multiple calendars and you can switch off individual ones to reduce the clutter.
Samsung has enabled its new S Cloud service on the Galaxy Xcover 2. It can sync contacts, calendar and S memos and back up logs, messages (SMS and MMS) and the wallpaper. You can choose not to back up some of those things and you can set up automatic backups.
The clock app features is laid out across five tabs, each with a different function. The first tab lets you create multiple alarms (each with a distinct repeat time and ring tone), then there are the World clock, stopwatch, timer and desk clock tabs.
The Calculator features big buttons, but you can enable one-handed operation to make things more manageable. The text size is adjustable and if you flip the phone horizontally, you get some advanced math functions too.
The My Files app lets you browse all the files in your phones' memory or on an attached microSD card. The app is launched automatically when you hook up a USB mass storage device (a USB drive, another phone, an SD card etc), which we find to be a nice touch.
The Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 comes with the Cardio Trainer app preloaded. The app can track your workouts by using the phone's accelerometer and GPS. And it's not just running - you can do anything from walking, through biking (even stationary biking), to aerobics and badminton. The app can connect via Bluetooth 4.0 to a Polar heart rate monitor to get better data.
It automatically shuffles all songs in your music collection to provide a soundtrack for your workout and can track you on a map or pull stats like distance, steps, calories and so on. At the end of the workout, it will show how much you've burned by comparing it to the energy value of food.
Stats about your workouts can be uploaded to noom.com. They are protected by a pass code that you can only get on your phone, so your personal data is safe.