Product Type: Samsung mobile phones
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Samsung Galaxy S2 - In Praise Of Used Goods
Samsung Galaxy S2
Member Name: Nibelung
Samsung Galaxy S2
Date: 11/05/13, updated on 11/05/13 (184 review reads)
Advantages: Still a contender. Great screen, good camera. Cheap to upgrade memory. Cosmetic spares very cheap.
Disadvantages: Plasticky. No NFC. Not 4G. No 'missed call' LED
I'll be honest, this second-hand Samsung Galaxy S2 was an impulse bid on e-bay - I already had a perfectly adequate HTC Desire S on a contract not coming to an end for several months. Fess-up time; I was just bored with it, and wanted something more modern that would tide me over well into the next contract period, allowing me the economy of changing to a 'SIM-only' contract which only locks you in for one year, not two, or maybe even PAYG.
To offset the £170 paid for a good condition example (although the previous owner's definition of 'excellent' was clearly not mine), I sold the Desire to Mazumamobile for about £35. OK, I could have got more but that would involve dealing with the 'Great British Public', answering their queries, running the gauntlet of being defrauded by them and having to post everything including chargers, leads etc. Mazuma only wants the phone and they're post-free. I'm building quite a stock of chargers!
The Galaxy S2 turned up, mercifully with a pristine screen, but someone had been removing the somewhat flimsy back with something other than a fingernail, if the biro skid marks and cracks were anything to go by. Fortunately, this phone has a whole wealth of 'after-market' spares, and a new back cost me around £1.95 on e-Bay. Even if you crack the outer glass of the screen, you can get it fixed for about £12 thanks to yet another e-Bay seller. A non-working touch screen is another matter though - kiss £65 goodbye.
Given the number of 'cracked screen but working' versions going for around £50 on e-Bay, I'm tempted to dabble in a little 'seller refurbished' trade myself, especially now that I know the price of fitting a new screen, and know how upgrade them to the latest 'generic' version of the latest Jelly Bean OS, with no annoying network logos and 'bloatware'. Unlocking is also a cheap 'via e-mail' operation.
It having already led a charmed life, I covered the screen with a good quality (i.e. not one of the 10 for £1.99 jobs) screen protector and treated the white case of the phone to a black 'gel' case which leads a lot of people to ask me what my phone is; the overall effect being rather smart and unique to my eye.
If I'm brutally honest, the beauty is only skin-deep when it comes to build quality. The chrome bumper strip that forms the decorative perimeter of the phone is not metal and can soon lose some of its shine. Fortunately, the gel cover hides this but for those that like to keep their phones 'au naturel' it's a consideration. The plasticky nature of the build, common to most Samsungs does make this fairly large phone (it's got a 4.3" screen) quite light and slim. To be fair, to doesn't 'creak' if you attempt to twist it!
Despite being 'two models out of date' at the time of writing, this phone still has many advanced features which should see it through till 4G is universal. Its screen is a beauty, using Samsung's so-called Super AmoLED Plus technology to provide stunning colour.
The mere fact that you can actually remove the back, change batteries and also add further memory storage all without reference to a store, is streets ahead in the convenience stakes compared to some phones 'i' could mention.
Its processor is at least 50% faster than the HTC Desire, itself no slouch, and its 8mp camera is a little beauty, if only in daylight. I've yet to be impressed by those LED flash shots that seem to adorn 50% of the profile pages on Facebook!
It's difficult to separate out unique features of a smart phone from those of the operating system. For example, it wasn't until later versions of Android than 'Éclair' that the facility to become a 'wi-fi hotspot' appeared. Therefore what one smart phone running Jelly Bean can do is much like any other.
Well you can almost guess in advance that I'm 'underwhelmed' by the battery life but this isn't my first smart phone, nor will it be my last, and I've gotten used to charging it every day come Hull or Highwater.
Despite the removable back, being able to change the battery is not a convenient solution as you can really only charge these IN the phone, and then swap them over. What I have done is buy a neat little external back-up battery which you charge using the same charger, and plug into the phone later to give it a boost charge. It doesn't seem capable of doing a full charge on a fully-depleted phone as I rather suspect that once both have equalled out to 50% charged, nothing else happens. However it's a handy little bit of kit that could dig you out of many a hole for £4.99.
Oh yes, Samsung, I've bone to pick with you. Why is it that on every phone of yours I've used, pressing the on-off button with my thumb to save screen usage involves your other fingers on the other side of the phone altering the volume slider, over-riding the fact that you're trying to turn the bloody thing off? Please stop putting them opposite each other.
Yes, and while I'm Samsung-bashing, an LED that indicates when you've received a message or missed a call wouldn't go amiss. It's even harder doming from an HTC, which had one! Fortunately, there's an 'app' called NoLED that addresses this problem by over-riding the screen time-out, substituting it for a powered-up but black screen (almost the same battery drain), which then has a series of programmable icons which float around alerting you to missed calls, texts, WhatsApp and Facebook messages and the like.
The processor is a fast-ish 1.2 Ghz Dual-Core job, OK, not quad-core like some of its latest competition.
It doesn't 'do' NFC - Near Field Communication which means that you won't be waving your phone over a credit card reader any day soon. Well you could try, if you like feeling foolish in a Tommy Cooper kinda way.
It doesn't 'do' 4G, but given that the 'wave-band' auctions are only just over and trials to prevent a 's***-storm' of discontent from Freeview users when they realise that the 800mhz band is perilously close to TV frequencies are only now under way, I'm not rushing into a 4G phone just yet, given that it'll be worn out by the time I can get 4G anyway. Hell, I'm happy if I've got a signal at home for more than an hour at a time - one step at a time Chris!
4G is not also known as LTE for nothing - it stands for Long Term Evolution.
Only 'EE', Everything Everywhere, the T-mobile/Orange consortium have been given permission to run 4G on their existing frequencies.
It does however 'do' 3G admirably, being able to handle HSPA+ whenever it rears its head over the parapet, giving a theoretical broadband top speed of 21MBps.
I've had a slight problem with Bluetooth 'dropout' since upgrading to JellyBean (or was it a coincidence?). After a while when mated to my car dashboard, I lose my ability to make hands-free calls. However, it seems that if I remember to turn off 'wi-fi', the problem goes away. Maybe it was happening every time I drove past an available wi-fi network, and in the case of 3G data at least, wi-fi takes preference on the assumption that it's better and cheaper to use.
Even my version came with 16gbytes of storage built in, which I quickly upgraded with a further 32gb thanks to the microSD card slot.
It use the more usual '*mini-SIM' card, unlike some of the latest offerings that need either 'micro- or nano-SIM' cards, each with progressively less plastic surrounding them, thus you can most likely just swap an existing SIM without having to get another one of the correct size or buy a customised guillotine (yes, honest!).
(*Remember when the full sized SIM was the same dimensions as a credit card?)
Oh yes, and I've had more than one occasion to be glad of the ability to remove the battery, as it's a very effective way of breaking out of a lock-up without waiting for the battery to expire.
The Galaxy S2 is still a contender with many networks pushing quite tasty deals to get rid of old 'new' stock before they find themselves with a phone that's 'two updates out of date'! It tends to indicate that it was class-leader at the time.
Mine may well have been 18 months old when I got it but I love it, apart from its not being new! The fact that it seems to have survived moderate to heavy use, with only a bit of plastic chrome worn off speaks reams I guess. It's easy and cheap to titivate your S2, and even change it from white to black and vice versa - yes even whole cases are available and if I could be arsed I'd do this just to get rid of that tatty chrome on one corner. However, a gel case hides it, is useful in its own right and is a darned sight cheaper!
It's also comforting to know that at this late stage in the phone's 'shelf life', Samsung is still prepared to stand by what must have been buyers of a state-of-the-art phone two years back and let them have access to the latest operating system, either via their UK network or through a utility called Kies. Nerd as I am, I used neither, as these two solutions would still have given me a version knobbled by my current network, but I got there in the end!
Summary: Premium smart phone
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