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Galaxy S2 Skyrocket: leader of the pack?
on June 25, 2012
Having been a Blackberry user for several years but also owning an iPod4 64G, I finally decided to replace my 2-year old Blackberry Curve with a smartphone and went for the Samsung Galaxy S2 Skyrocket, cheaper than the iPhone and has had generally positive reviews from users.
I've been using the Samsung now for a couple of weeks. Before getting into details about a few of the amazing features of this excellent phone, here is a summary of what I really liked about the Blackberry Curve and how the new Samsung compares:
1. It was easy to type text on the Blackberry because it has a physical keyboard which even a user with big fingers can cope with. I was put off on-screen keyboards a couple of years ago by the truly appalling and virtually un-usable Blackberry Storm, but the Samsung is really OK in this department even though its keyboard appears on-screen because the key points are so large, and when you finger a key a larger image of it pops up to confirm which key you have activated.
2. The Blackberry's party piece was very easy and intuitive email management, which I need to use all day long for business messages. Well, the Samsung is surprisingly good here too, with the added bonus of a huge screen and the facility to enlarge or reduce text size with a sweep of the fingers, iPhone style. The text clarity is first class.
3. The Blackberry has very long battery life and typically I'd only need to charge it every 4 or 5 days, even with heavy usage. The Samsung does not fare well in comparison and needs daily charging, but there's a number of things you can do to prevent high power consumption like turning off features you're not using and not playing music through it (if using the phone principally as an iPod-like music player is important to you, then this Samsung may not be for you as battery life will be reduced to a few hours).
4. The Blackberry is small and handy in size, whereas the Samsung is 3x larger (but about the same thickness) - however in compensation, you get that amazing huge screen
Here's a summary of the main features of this amazing phone from my non-techie perspective:
* The AMOLED screen on the Skyrocket is definitely its star attraction: huge, bright and clear with fabulous colour definition, it's even better than the iPhone or iPod. Designers have finally copped-on that people don't want ever smaller and smaller phones and no-one wants to watch a movie on a screen 1.5cm square; they want something of a convenient size that they can use and read easily at arm's length
* Despite the substantial size, it's thin and lightweight at only 116g which makes it no problem in your pocket and a big advantage to a smaller person when making long calls (the iPhone for example is around 20g heavier)
* All functions are very intuitive and easy to use - at least as good as the iPod4 with a similar feel
* Calls are easy to make due to the big clear graphics and easy-to-follow menus - however it has some minor quirks like you can't answer a call by actually pressing the green phone symbol, you have to `sweep' across it - but once you learn this, everything is OK. The ear-speaker and voice-mike are both very good and very clear; reception so far first-class with no dropped calls
* The quality of the image from the camera is also exemplary (but make sure the flash is turned on)
* The Samsung has a standard connect-to-computer/mains charger socket, a micro-USB port located on the base-edge of the phone. Finally manufacturers have chosen (not before time) to stop ripping-off their customers by making them buy new chargers with every new handset and begun to standardize - FINALLY!
In summary I'd say if you're looking for a smartphone, the Samsung is a very serious contender. It's beautifully designed, its screen is absolutely amazing - you need to just use it for a couple of minutes to appreciate how good it is - yet it's lightweight. The menus are intuitive and easy to master; it has loads of optional software and aps (mostly free to the user, unlike with Apple); making calls and managing email is a breeze. It's a weather forecaster, a GPS street-finder and a web browser with astoundingly clear screen definition unlike anything I ever used before.
Possible cautions include barely acceptable battery life, and for this it drops a star: if you're a current Blackberry user you'll really notice this, and especially so if you use it as a music player. Also the Skyrocket might be intimidating if you're a technophobe who just wants a simple phone to make calls. But it compares very well in all essentials against the iPhone: it's lighter, cheaper and the screen is better, and most of the aps for which Apple charges you, you get with the Samsung for free.
One final point: make sure you buy a good robust case and a screen protector for it; there's plenty of choice and most of them do the job OK.