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Sunday, December 4, 2011

Galaxy S II Skyrocket Review

Galaxy S II Skyrocket Review:
By: Sam Savitt
“This is probably the best LTE offering from AT&T of the Year…and yes, that includes the LG Nitro"

As the legacy of the Galaxy S II line lives on, AT&T has added the Skyrocket as one of their first two LTE devices, alongside the HTC Vivid. This device packs some pretty hefty specs, and being the part of Sammy’s flagship line, we have come to expect high things from this type of device. Running Android 2.3.5 along with Touchwiz 4.0, the Skyrocket measures at 129.8x.68.8x9.5. The Skyrocket has great hardware, and LTE, but is it enough to keep up with the competition from Verizon?

This device has the classic Samsung setup: Left side volume rocker, right side lock/power switch, headphone jack at the top and micro USB port at the bottom. It is a relatively slim device, and it has pretty decent ergonomics, a bit shorter and wider than most 4.5-inch displays. The back, unlike all the previous GSII models, is not texturized, and is a smooth back plate (it attracts plenty of fingerprints). There is a small hump where the speaker is at the bottom, but it is not very pronounced, and you don’t really feel it when you hold the phone. 

This bad boy packs a large 1850mAh Li-Ion battery to provide for all that LTE use. Inside we have the Snapdragon S3 Dual-Core Chip, clocked at 1.5 gHz, and the Adreno 220 GPU chip. Additionally, it provides 1024MB of RAM to ensure a snappy and speedy performance—and it does. After heavy use of this phone, it has proved itself to be consistently fast, and I have rarely encountered lag. It comes with 16 GB of internal storage, but it is expandable via a microSD card slot, and it does support SDHC cards. NFC (Near Field Communication) is in the device, but unfortunately, AT&T does not have it activated on the device. Word is that they may activate it with ICS, so user can enjoy features like Android Beam and Google Wallet. The Skyrocket comes with all the classic goodies: Wifi
 does not have it activated on the device. Word is that they may activate it with ICS, so user can enjoy features like Android Beam and Google Wallet. The Skyrocket comes with all the classic goodies: Wifi 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.O, and GPS. It also includes an accelerometer, Gyroscope, compass, and proximity sensor.  

The display is gorgeous. Samsung’s sAMOLED+ display technology has made its mark once again. It provides beautiful, bright and vivid colors on the large 4.5” display. On black screens, you can see text with incredible clarity, and although the resolution is lower than phones like the HTC Rezound, the Super Amoled Plus technology is very impressive and conservative.

Software/Battery Life:
Right off the bat, this device is running android 2.3.5 Gingerbread and, on top of that, Touchwiz 4.0, which really isn’t so bad. Battery life on this thing was good, it lasted me throughout the day, and this is in Manhattan, where I am getting an LTE signal. In my opinion, TouchWiz is really a pro, it makes it easier for you to customize your home screens, and is a very minimal, discrete and good looking skin. It doesn’t create any lag either. For the record, AT&T has promised the Ice Cream Sandwich upgrade sometime in Q1, 2012. 

This Thursday, AT&T, unofficially, launched LTE in New York. Because it has not really been announced, these results are not 100% true, and the coverage is not final at all. My Skyrocket was getting a strong LTE signal throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. The closer to the Bronx you get, the lower your signal gets. Regardless, AT&T hasn’t said anything yet, so there will presumably be service throughout the city when made official. The network is still new, but I got some very promising results:

Like the rest of the Galaxy S II line, the Skyrocket has two great cameras. A front facing 2-Megapixel camera, for video chat (or personal entertainment), and a 8-Megapixel LED flash rear shooter. The back camera features auto focus, touch to focus, image stabilization, smile detection, and lots of amusing features like panorama mode. It can film 1080p video, at 30fps, and like the photo quality, the video quality is stunning.

The Verdict:
The Skyrocket is a great device, but it there are plenty of variables that come in to play when choosing a phone. AT&T Customers, listen up. If you live in an LTE city, or/and if you have an unlimited data plan, don’t give it up to get the Galaxy Nexus. This phone is a beast of a device, and the specs it packs are great. Hopefully, with ICS, this will get access to NFC, and personally, I think the device as a whole can compete with the Galaxy Nexus.

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