T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II review

The final carrier to launch the Samsung Galaxy S II in the U.S. was T-Mobile and with it comes HSPA+ at 42Mbps compatibility and a different different processor. The Qualcomm Snapdragon 1.5GHz processor replaced the standard Exynos 1.2GHz. I found no lag with the Qualcomm, but I think if you really look hard you might find it slightly slower than the Exynos. I stress “look hard” because I believe the average person won’t be able to tell the difference. If you are someone that constantly switches carriers, than you might consider the Sprint or AT&T version instead, but if you are a T-Mobile customer looking to upgrade, than you won’t be disappointed. You can check out the unboxing and initial hands on review here.

Design

The Galaxy S II is one of the sexiest phones around and the T-Mobile version is no exception. It’s a little thicker at .37-inches or 9.4mm. My only complaint is the glossy finish on the sides and back. To me it’s slippery in your hands, and it begs for a case, but I personally don’t like to use cases. I think the finish makes it more prone to dropping. In my testing I never did, but I was extra careful. The only other complaint I have is the power button on the top right. I personally prefer it on the top. Seriously folks, these are minor issues and they would not stop me from buying the phone.

The screen measures at 4.52-inches much like the Sprint version. The extra real estate is really nice, and they got it done without any extra bulk as it feels comfortable in my pocket. I would have preferred a qHD (960 x 540) screen, but I can’t complain as it’s hard to fault the Super AMOLED Plus 800 x 480 resolution screen.

Battery

The battery is the the largest of the three at 1850mAh. I can’t compare it directly to the other U.S. counterparts, but I will say battery life was better than average. It lasted a full day with normal use and I never felt like it was an issue. With average use I am sitting at 40% after 12 hours. I can’t complain about that, but my area has poor T-Mobile coverage so I can’t say how battery would perform if I was constantly connected 4G.

Performance

I am not going to get into all the benchmarks. There are enough tests that show that the T-Mobile version doesn’t score as well as the other variants, and other that do, but all I am concerned with is real life. Trust me when I say this phone performs very well. As I said earlier, if you look hard enough you might notice a slight lag as compared to its other siblings, but the average consumer will be 100% satisfied.

Software

It’s nice to see the latest version of Android when you open the box, and that’s what you get with this one as it has Android 2.3.5. It also has TouchWiz 4.0. I am not a big fan of UI overlays, but TouchWiz is a decent compliment. It adds some nice touches like being able to change the wallpaper for the locksceen, but the built in task manager in Gingerbread is lost as you need to do it the old way going into Settings and Applications, but they do offer a widget where you can kill active apps. The app drawer moves horizontal which is more Honeycomb style, but they also offer the ability to list your apps by name without the icons with a vertical scroll. The dial for quick rotations of the homescreen and app drawer seems to be more for show than actual usability. You will find a number of custom TouchWiz widgets that you may or may not like, but the good thing is you don’t have to look at them if you don’t like them. All in all, it’s a decent compliment and not as overpowering as something like HTC’s Sense.

Also onboard is NFC which we couldn’t use, but since most phones are purchased with a 2-year contract, it makes sense to have a phone with NFC compatibility for future proofing.

Camera

Samsung has really stepped things up with the camera. I am not photographer, but I will say it comes down to your preference. I took a lot of outdoor shots and the contrast was sometimes lacking. The omission of a dedicated camera button is a disappointment, but overall it is a really nice camera and I would have no problem leaving my point and shoot at home. Here are some example photos:

Closing:

If you are on T-Mobile and want the best phone available, if comes down to the Galaxy S II or the Amaze 4G. ┬áBoth are comparable. It comes down to your preference of design and UI. I can’t imagine anybody buying a Galaxy S II and not being happy with it. If you are a carrier drifter you might want to consider buying one of the other variants, but if you are in area that supports 42Mbps, any possible CPU performance will be outweighed by the network speed. If I was a T-Mobile customer, I wouldn’t hesitate is purchasing the Galaxy S II.

» See more articles by Robert Nazarian


  • Zomby2D

    If you hold the home button for a couple of seconds, it will bring you to the built-in task manager.

  • Moe H.

    This or wait for the Galaxy Nexus hardest choice of my life lol

  • greg

    the phone looks nice.