Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hands-on with the T-Mobile HTC Amaze 4G and Samsung Galaxy S II

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Summary: T-Mobile is rolling out two powerful Android smartphones this week and I had the pleasure of using both over the weekend. Which one appealed most to me and might end up in my collection?

Regular readers know I have been very happy with Windows Phone 7 devices on T-Mobile for the past year, but I am always willing to try new devices and there are two new Android Gingerbread smartphones launching this week that have me seriously considering another SIM card switch on T-Mobile. I have been using the HTC Amaze 4G and Samsung Galaxy S II extensively since Friday and am ready to drop some cash this coming week, but on the device you might not have thought at first. You can check out several images of the devices in my image gallery and in my video first look below.

The Samsung Galaxy S II was announced at Mobile World Congress in February and then released outside the US starting in June after receiving pre-orders in excess of 3 million devices. It has been very successful outside the US and is just starting to roll out here with versions for T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T announced. After reading reviews applauding the device I couldn’t wait to give it a try on T-Mobile and was sure I was going to purchase one for myself.

Then I tried the HTC Amaze 4G that came out and slapped me upside the face with its incredible design. I was thinking the Amaze 4G was just another typical HTC black slab phone, but I have to say I think this may very well be the best designed HTC device I have ever had the pleasure of using as I will describe in more detail below.

T-Mobile continues to use the durable well designed packages we have seen for a couple of years with high resolution glossy images of the device on the outside and a list of the main features on the back. You will find the device, battery, USB cable, USB charger, SIM card, wired stereo headset, and Quick Start Guide in the box.

I knew the T-Mobile variant of the Galaxy S II would come with the largest display of the variants at 4.52 inches, but when I pulled it from the box I admit I was shocked by how light the device was at only 4.77 ounces. Unlike some of the previous Samsung Galaxy devices it doesn’t feel cheap with a glossy black back and instead feels very well constructed with an attractive textured back. The display looks very nice, but doesn’t seem to “pop” out at me as much as other Super AMOLED Plus displays I have seen on Samsung devices in the past.

Specifications for the Samsung Galaxy S II include the following:

Android 2.3.5 GingerbreadSamsung TouchWiz user interface42 Mbps HSPA+ support on T-Mobile’s AWS network1.5 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon dual-core processor4.52 inch WVGA 480×800 pixels Super AMOLED Plus displayPreinstalled 16GB storage with microSD card slot1 GB RAM8 megapixel camera with LED flash and 1080p video recording capability2 megapixel front facing cameraProximity sensor, light sensor and digital compassIntegrated A-GPSWi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g/n)Bluetooth 3.0DLNA supportHDMI support via MHL adaptorNFC-enabled3.5 mm headset jack1850 mAh lithium-ion batteryDimensions: 5.1 x 2.7 x 0.37 inches and 4.77 ounces

The Samsung Galaxy S II has a large display, but does not feel that large in your hand due to the very light weight and thinness of the device. It is an impressive piece of hardware and I am sure those looking for the biggest screen on a T-Mobile Android phone will love it.

The front of the Galaxy S II is dominated by the 4.52 inch Super AMOLED Plus display. I find that Samsung’s AMOLED displays show vibrant colors and intense brightness, but even on maximum brightness this Galaxy S II just doesn’t seem to blow me away as much. There are four touch capacitive buttons (Menu, Home, Back, and Search), 2 megapixel front facing VGA camera, and proximity sensor.

The Galaxy S II minimizes the use of hardware buttons and ports with a single power/lock button on the upper right, a volume button on the upper left, a microUSB port on the bottom, and the 3.5mm headset jack on the top.

The 8 megapixel camera and single LED flash are found centered on the upper back with the Galaxy S II embedded in the center. The battery, SIM card slot, and microSD card slot are found under the back cover. I love the new textured back cover that gives the device a high quality feel and some grip in your hand.

I am not a huge fan of the TouchWiz user interface, but it is very snappy and customizable to a point. As an Exchange user I find that HTC Sense 3.0 blows away TouchWiz for email and PIM apps. There are several Samsung widgets on the device and I did find some to be useful.

There are several T-Mobile apps, such as Slacker, TeleNav GPS Navigator, T-Mobile TV, Qik Video Chat, and Visual Voicemail along with several Samsung apps. For some reason the version of Google Talk on the Galaxy S II does not support video chat using the front facing camera.

The Galaxy S II on T-Mobile has the fastest radio in the US, out of all SGSII devices, with support for T-Mobile’s 42 Mbps network. From my testing in Seattle I experienced a maximum download speed of 26.07 Mbps. Check out this post for details on my testing.

The Samsung Galaxy S II is available now for pre-order and available in stores on 12 October for $229.99 with a minimum voice and data plan with 2-year contract after a $50 mail-in rebate. The full retail price is $529.99 with no contract.

Let’s check out the details of the HTC Amaze 4G »

Matthew Miller started using a Pilot 1000 in 1997 and has been writing news, reviews, and opinion pieces ever since.


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