Samsung Galaxy S2, 10 Years Later: Retro Review!
This thing was the start of what eventually turned samsung into the mobile behemoth that it is today fueling a mess of lawsuits with apple along the way and played a big part in the galaxy s becoming the de facto iphone alternative. But let’s back up a bit because if you had a galaxy s2 in america, chances are this particular phone here. Doesn’T. Look all that familiar to you. After all, that’s, because back in 2011, we were still in the age of samsung, making very different versions of its high end phones for various us networks. Some had minor changes like different buttons, others added bigger screens like this, the ludicrously named sprint, samsung, galaxy s2, comma epic 4g touch, but the gs2 most of the world knew was this. The original international version with that big clicky home button down below and a 4.3 inch display first thing: i noticed picking this up. Having used a bunch of 2021 era, android phones is not just the size, but how insanely light it is on a counter being made entirely of plastic. It was 2011 phones in general, and especially android phones and especially samsung phones were usually made out of plastic of varying degrees of chintziness. The back panel of this ebay model has definitely seen better days. The trademark samsung hyperskin texture of 2011 has been worn down. Pretty good here, but the front glass is actually in decent shape. A lot of the design traits of this phone by the way are shared with the samsung galaxy nexus, including the texture of the battery door here and the plastic hump at the bottom of the phone.
This version i’ve got here is the galaxy s2, with nfc support. There are a few different versions of this phone floating around in europe, two running samsung, exynos chips with and without nfc, and a third one that used a ti omaprocessor. Instead, one of the ways you can distinguish them is by looking at the battery, because there’s no nfc antenna inside the battery door, all the wires for contactless payments are instead housed in the battery itself, which is pretty neat not that you’re going to be able to Use such a geriatric phone with any modern, secure payment app but hey having nfc in any capacity, was cutting edge for 2011.. So, alongside that, at the time, blisteringly fast, dual core exynos processor, the biggest deal about this phone was its screen. It was the first super amoled plus panel, meaning that, unlike previous amoleds, it used an rgb subpixel pattern for every pixel, that’s, red, green and blue. Instead of the usual red green blue, green, shared across two pixels, without getting too nerdy, basically meant that you had three tiny sub pixels per pixel. Instead of the usual two, which gave you more accurate, colors and avoided the unpleasant jagginess of the pentile matrix pattern which affected earlier amoled screens, there’s also much less of a noticeable air gap between the panel itself and the outer glass and as a result, this screen Looked better than pretty much anything else of this era with the possible exception of apple’s iphone 4.
, and although the resolution is low by modern standards at 800×480, it actually doesn’t. Look too bad, though daylight. Visibility is definitely a little bit rough. Other notables, with this milestone, android phone, include a front facing camera, which is kind of a novelty for the time. This is one of the first generation of android phones with selfie, shooters and android itself, didn’t even support front facing photography before version 2.3 gingerbread and as you’d expect from one of the very first selfie cameras. It is a total potato what’s, less potatoey is the 8 megapixel rear camera, which was actually pretty good for this generation, obviously very slow to shoot and the lack of cpu power here means no hdr or fancy processing tricks, but it’s possible to get non horrible photos From this camera, though, up close, a lot of fine detail does tend to get smeared away. The other breakthrough feature is full hd 1080p video, which is a big deal for the time, we’d only just gotten 720p in phone cameras the year before. But once again, what lets you down here compared to a modern phone is the lack of decent stabilization and processing. Any kind of movement is hilariously exaggerated, so moving video is going to look like you’re walking through an earthquake compared to the flagships that we have today like a lot of android phones of the time you had microsd support for those glorious, 8 megapixel snaps, but the Gs2 was among the few that actually had a decent amount of internal storage, too 16 or even 32 gigs of storage, depending on where you bought it add in a gigabyte of ram and a removable 1650 milliamp hour battery and you’ve got a pretty solid android spec Sheet for a decade ago, this phone shipped on android, 2.
3 gingerbread and some models even got as far as 4.1 jelly bean before support ended right now there are some custom roms that go all the way up to android 10 through lineage os, but from what i’ve Been able to see performance on them is far from great anyway. This orange uk branded gs2 is right up to date, for i guess early 2012 with android 4.0.4. On top of that is the old old samsung touchwiz ui that dates back even before the bleeps and bloops and whistles of subsequent years you get some basic conveniences like quick settings and the improved ice cream sandwich style. Recent apps menu, if you’re, looking for other modern android perks like lock, screen notifications and camera shortcut keys, though you are out of luck. This samsung ui is really a hodgepodge of various different design elements, depending on which app you’re, using and in addition to a heaping quantity of carrier bloatware. On this orange version, there is a veritable graveyard of now defunct. Samsung services like this makeshift voice, command thing that works about as well as you’d expect for a vintage early 2011 app. I was able to get a google account on here, and this build of android is at least recent enough to have the google play store. Instead of android market, but otherwise it’s not a fantastic experience and i wasn’t even able to update the built in apps without the phone hard locking. So, like the htc desire, we tried a couple months ago, if you’re, using the gs2 in 2021 you’re getting for all practical purposes, a feature phone experience, even the functionality, this phone enjoyed a decade ago, has slowly started to fall away with youtube failing to fire up In either the app or on the web, plus the browsing experience, while not horrible, is plagued by those same https certificate issues that affected the ancient browser of the htc desire.
So you can definitely use it to browse, but it’s a pretty painful experience. Software is definitely the thing that’s aged the worst out of everything about the galaxy s2, whether it’s services being retired or just the reality of using android 4 on the internet of 2021. I remember this phone feeling like a powerhouse 10 years ago, but today, in addition to the clown car visual style, you can definitely tell the difference that 10 years of improvements to things like touch response have made even fresh out of the box. This is a pretty bad experience by 2021 standards, so that’s a quick look back at one of my favorite android phones of 10 years ago, if you’d like to see us, take a crack at putting more up to date, version of android on this vintage samsung hardware. Then let us know down in the comments and be sure to subscribe, so you don’t miss more retro reviews like this, as well as coverage of more up to date.