Samsung's Galaxy S II embraces a new design approach along with cutting-edge technology, according to a teardown by ABI Research. That combination could make it a viable competitor to the highest-end smartphones currently on the market.
"Samsung started from scratch with this phone: almost every component is new," James Mielke, ABI Research's vice president of engineering, wrote in a July 7 statement. "It is the first to use the Samsung Exynos 4210 dual-core application processor (a competitor to Nvidia's dual-core Tegra 2)."
Other changes include a new CMOS-based antenna switch, a lower-power XMM6260 cellular chipset built by Infineon, and a single-packaged multi-band, multi-mode PA from RFMD.
Samsung first unveiled its Galaxy S II prototypes at the Mobile World Congress in February. The smartphone runs Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" on a 4.3-inch Super AMOLED Plus (super active-matrix organic LED plus) screen, powered by that 1.2GHz processor. It first hit store shelves April 29 in South Korea, eventually racking up worldwide sales of 3 million units in its first 55 days of release. Exact U.S. release dates, however, remain unknown.
In all, Samsung has profited immensely from Google Android devices. The Galaxy S line sold more than 10 million units worldwide in 2010, enough to place the company ahead of Motorola and HTC in Android handset sales, and the new Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet has attracted solid reviews.
With that success, though, comes inevitable conflict. Microsoft is reportedly demanding $15 from Samsung for each Android-based smartphone the latter produces, arguing that Google's operating system violates a number of its patents. Microsoft has already managed to extract patent-licensing agreements from Android device manufacturers such as HTC and Wistron Corp., although it faces potentially lengthy court battles with Barnes & Noble and Motorola.
Meanwhile, Apple has fired off a wide-ranging lawsuit against Samsung, accusing the company of violating its intellectual property rights. A newly expanded complaint targets a multitude of Samsung devices including the Galaxy S II and Tab 10.1.
"The original complaint already accused Samsung of -slavishly copying' Apple's designs," Florian Mueller, a self-described intellectual property activist, wrote in a June 17 breakdown on his Foss Patents blog. "The amended one stresses that Samsung -has been even bolder' than other competitors emulating Apple's products."
But the Apple-Samsung battle is an atypical one in the intellectual-property arena. Even as Apple's iPhone and iPad compete fiercely with the devices in Samsung's portfolio, Apple remains a major purchaser of components from Samsung, which seems only too happy to cash the checks. Of course, that didn't stop Samsung from filing its own intellectual-property lawsuits against Apple.