October 18, 2011 | by Andrew Kameka
Camera: Photographs & Memories
The Samsung Galaxy S II 8MP camera isn’t much of a leap in terms of smartphone technology. Like most modern cameras, it takes fantastic photos outdoors when it’s sunny, and even does surprisingly well on a gloomy Miami afternoon. (That’s good, because it has rained practically every day since I got the phone.) The GS II continues Samsung’s trend of customizing the camera app, allowing users to adjust exposure and white balance to get snapshots just right. There are multiple shooting modes, effects, and built-in anti-shake to help curb blurry, out-of-focus shots.
The video portion of the camera is a little more impressive in relation to what other smartphones have done. In sunlight, the 1080p video produced actually looks worthy of the HD tag that smartphone makers slap on their devices today. Colors are accurately captured, video is sharp and fresh, and the frames move along buttery-smooth. Sadly, there doesn’t seem to be a very strong anti-shake feature built-in to video mode, so shaky hands or moving around can lead to the video jerking back and forth.
On the occasion that you don’t have adequate lighting, a powerful LED light can be turned on to go from pitch black to bright. Really bright. I tried testing in dark situations with the LED light perpetually on, but it overpowered the subject, so the person could not look into the camera without blinking or wincing. It would have been great had Samsung included a way to take the power down a notch, so only trigger the LED light if you absolutely need it. Here are some photo and video samples I took of the Galaxy S II.
Conclusion: I’m Happy to be Stuck With You
The difference between being a really good phone and being one that’s truly great is miniscule. I’d say that Samsung and T-Mobile flirt with that border every time I touch the Galaxy S II. The overall experience is positive, but is it the best I could hope for? You could obsess about how this phone doesn’t quite stack up to its brethren in key areas, but the differences are marginal.
The Galaxy S II is a great phone regardless of carrier, and T-Mobile is no different in that regard. This is a phone that may be too big for some, but its lightness and thinness will mask its stature. Most important of all, this is a phone with vastly improved software and responsive hardware tied to an incredibly fast network (in some areas). Samsung promised a phone that was out-of-this-world, and the Galaxy S II delivers something pretty close to the atmosphere.