Saturday, October 1, 2011

Galaxy S II vs Nokia N8, Apple iPhone 4, Samsung Galaxy S

Galaxy S2 is probably the best smartphone available to consumers to date. Consequently I did some research on the device, keeping its mind its close competitors. Below I post my review of the phone for me and others as a quick reference.

Pros -
+ Dual Core 1.2 GHz ARM processor. For comparison, Galaxy S has a Single Core 1 GHz ARM processor. This is very fast for programs optimized for Dual Core (eg. web page browser, programs that manipulates/rotates images like Google Map, image browser, etc.). Even for programs which are meant to run on a single core, the phone will supply plenty of power since the single core speed is higher than most other phones.

+ Interface driven by Android 2.3 coupled with the superfast CPU is very responsive for the end users. There is not a moment when the phone feels that it slowed down even a little.

+ NFC, or Near Field Communication. This is right now only one of very few phones that support NFC. NFC is a protocol, through which the phone can communicate with another phone or device which is NFC aware when they are brought close to each other. It is designed to operate without the requirement of having to manually pair with another device. This tech is used by Google Wallet to authorize payments - where instead of swiping a card, you wave the phone in the authorization machine and (type in your PIN in the phone) to authorize a payment.

+ USB to Go - Not only can you connect the phone to computer as a USB device, you can now use the phone to host USB devices. That is if you have a USB pendrive or hard disk, and you want to transfer videos or songs to the disk from the phone, you can do it without needing a laptop.

+ Camera - The phone sports a decent 8MP camera with dual led flash. The picture quality is good, and it is capable of capturing 1080p videos, which also seem to be of decent quality. If you need a camera with more megapixels, Nokia N8 provides you with a 12MP camera. But megapixels don't mean all, and where Samaung trumps Nokia is in the interface. It is worthy to note here that Galaxy S sports a 5MP camera which takes picture of very decent quality, though for some strange reason it has no flash! Here is an indepth review of the camera with picture samples.

+ Super AMOLED is Samaung's proprietary technology to provide even crisper display at lower power. The phone also has Gorilla Glass, which can stand its share of torture. However don't push it too much, as it may not be completely unbreakable.

+ Android 2.3 with all its goodies, the phone is bound to attract any gadget freak. The interface is crisp, responsive (even to your tilts and shake!) and intuitive - a feast to behold. It already comes with some great software, and it is easy to get some more great applications installed on the phone based on your liking. The ever  increasing appstore has lots of very good free applications that you can load. This already has better variety than Apple Appstore, primarily because Google designed it to be much more friendly towards software developers - with checks to ensure writing apps for Android is fun and not frustration.

+ Other goodies include 16GB inbuilt memory, digital compass, acceleration sensor, support for viewing running Flash based webpages, predictive input of text through touchscren swype, and more.

Cons -
- Back button seems to give trouble for some people, where it goes back twice when you press the button, instead of once. Though this seems to happen rarely, it appears to be a design fault in some phones.

- Random restarts happen spontaneously on the phone. This has been pretty much traced to SD card, and could be due to the positioning of the SD card which pushes the battery slightly out. To resolve that you may insert a piece of paper to ensure the battery is always connected. This could also happen because of other reasons, like corrupted applications on SD card.

- Google Maps voice guided navigation does not work on many countries(!!). This is very strange and slightly troubling, since navigation is one of the primary usage these days of buying a smart phone. While Google seems to be mute on reasons for this, I surmise that this has to do with managing load on their servers. Unlike most other GPS, eg. Nokia Maps or Sygic, Google's navigation works by requesting Google to plot the route instead of doing so offline on the device. The solution seems to be to install Brut Maps, a free navigation software that uses Google Maps data, though there are unofficial hacks to enable navigation in Google Maps for your country.

- Battery - Many users have reported that the battery life might be much lower than expected. This could be due to requirement of conditioning of the battery which may require using the phone for some time.

Apple - provides a stable phone, interface is practically as good as S2. While Apple offers a good platform for developers, this is where Android excels, and hence you can expect to find more free and paid quality apps and games for Android than iOS. iPhone 4 has higher resolution (960x640 vs 800x480), but lower screen size (3.5" vs 4.3"), kind of defeating the purpose and acting more as a gimmick. iPhone has no external card slot, nor USB2GO. Also it does not have support for NFC. For those conscious about looks, iPhone weighs more and is slightly thicker and bigger. Prices being nearly the same, there is a good difference in the features and looks - which makes me swing much in favor of Galaxy S2 over iPhone 4.

Nokia - unfortunately made many big mistakes and now is paying for it. Symbian, the OS in which this phone runs and on which you develop apps, was no where near as developer friendly as Android. It was clumsy to code in it, and it required you to buy a license to even make your apps install without requiring to get a phone hacked. Also the reviews of Nokia Care are generally pathetic, and it appears that most of the Nokia Care centers hire underpaid executive resulting in unprofessional experience, both in terms of attitude of representatives and in relation with damaging your gadget. They also didn't get any kudos for their decision about a year ago to make navigation free, while completely ignoring customers' plea to support all but recent devices back then. All these are not good sign for a company, and typically mean that the organization is interested more in short term profits rather than long term commitment to the customers. My recommendation will be to steer absolutely clear from Nokia till they can get themselves together to fix their issues, which will take time.

Samsung Galaxy S - would have been a phone I'd love to buy, despite it's much slower and has lower RAM, internal memory and camera resolution (picture quality is very good at 5MP). The price is only half or less than Galaxy S2. However that phone does not have certain features, including any kind of flash for the camera, which is a deal breaker for me! Why, Samsung? Anyway, other features it does not have are NFC, USB2GO, out of the box Flash support in websites (though Youtube has special support).

There are some hiccups (mentioned above), and though they are rare it cautions warranty. But if you are looking for best smartphone now, go right ahead, you wouldn't likely be disappointed!


  1. Thanks for review, it was excellent and very informative.
    thank you :)

  2. Even for programs which are meant to run on a single core, the phone will supply plenty of power since the single core speed is higher than most other phones.galaxy s2 wallet