Earlier this summer, I tested and reviewed Samsung's Galaxy S II Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android 2.3 Gingerbread handsets on AT&T and Sprint's networks. I found both to be speedy, reliable and enjoyable to use, whether accessing applications via the carriers' 3G or 4G networks.
I'm well acquainted with AT&T and Sprint's S II devices and all of their new eccentricities, from the TouchWiz user interface with screen capture capabilities and customizable widgets, to the phones' spectacular, low-latency 8-megapixel cameras.
So with that backdrop, I've been using T-Mobile's new Samsung Galaxy S II smartphone for the last five days and I have to say it doesn't miss a beat from AT&T and Sprint's S II's, even though it costs $229 on contract while its brothers cost $199 with two-year deals.
I want to talk about some of the differences I noticed with this handset, which like the Sprint S II, Epic 4G Touch model has a spectacularly crisp, 4.52-inch Super active-matrix organic LED Plus (Super AMOLED Plus) screen with an 800-by-480 resolution.
From a physical standpoint, T-Mobile's model mirrors that of its brethren, except that its titanium-colored plastic back has a less textured feel compared with the other models, which you can see side by side here.
T-Mobile's handset is only 0.37 inches thin, which makes it fit nicely in the pocket. I'd still argue, as I did discussing the Epic 4G Touch, that a 4.52-inch screen is too big. Anything over 4.3 inches is too big in my hand for my usability preferences. This phone and others like it are not for the small-handed.
Overall, if it weren't for the T-Mobile branding on the top of the touch-screen display, it's hard to distinguish between T-Mobile and Sprint's models. Under the hood, there are more significant differences.
T-Mobile's model employs a 1.5GHz Qualcomm S3 Snapdragon processor, compared with the Samsung Exynos 1.2GHz chips fueling AT&T and Sprint's S IIs. So, supposedly it's that much faster, but I'd be lying if I told you I could discern a difference.
All three S IIs process applications-ranging from Facebook and Twitter for Android to YouTube clips-quite admirably. T-Mobile included a lot of bonus applications, some of which are bloatware and some, such as Netflix, Zinio Reader and Slacker Radio, may be convenient to satisfy users' entertainment media needs. I'm a Netflix hog, so I appreciated not having to download the application.
T-Mobile's network, which has always been iffy for me in Fairfield County, Conn., was suspect despite the fact that my area is supposed to be blanketed by the carrier in 4G coverage.
A drive from my home to the Connecticut/New York border showed T-Mobile's network oscillate from 3G to 4G repeatedly with no rhyme or reason. I got anywhere from 2M bps download speeds on 3G to 8M bps downloads on 4G, based on Ookla's Speed Test application for Android. That disparity is frustrating.