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MWC: Samsung Galaxy S II – First Look

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Samsung’s slim new Galaxy S II is an attractive option for consumers and business users

Samsung unveiled its Galaxy S II over the weekend, during the run-up to Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, touting it as “the world’s thinnest smartphone”.

On the second day of the show, eWEEK Europe paid a visit to Samsung’s stand, to get some hands-on time with the device and see if it lived up to the hype. The verdict: we liked what we saw.

Sleek and well designed

At less that 8.5mm thick and weighing in at just 116g, the Galaxy S II is a very sleek device, and surprisingly comfortable to hold. With a dual-core 1GHz processor and generous 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus display, the graphics appear particularly bright and colourful.

With this latest addition to the Galaxy S range, Samsung has opted for Android 2.3 (Gingerbread), which the company claims offers a faster, more user-friendly experience.

The Galaxy S II comes with version 4.0 of TouchWiz, Samsung’s proprietary Android user interface. Content on the device is organised into four new ‘Hubs’ – the Readers Hub, Music Hub, Social Hub and Game Hub – designed to increase user interactivity. Users can organise their media files as they wish, for example searching music tracks, listening to previews and creating playlists.

The Social Hub also allows users to combine their contact lists from different sources such as GTalk, Yahoo and Windows Live, and categorise them into groups. In this way they can send group updates to friends about a heavy night on the town without having to suffer the dispproval of work colleagues the following day.

The Readers Hub seems particularly intuitive, and the large screen makes reading text a relatively pleasant experience. Texts are divided into news, books and magazines, and allow users to access media from all over the world. They can even access a newspaper before it is fully downloaded, and the file will continue to download as the user reads.

Enterprise support

While many of these applications are designed to appeal to consumers, Samsung is also touting a host of enterprise applications including encryption, real-time synchronisation and Cisco’s AnyConnect VPN client.

The encryption is implemented on the phone’s hardware, preventing deterioration of the device’s performance, according to Samsung. Data stored on both the internal and external storage can be encrypted. Using Sybase’s Afaria platform, an IT department can enforce device encryption remotely, as well as shutting down and wiping any devices that are lost or stolen.

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